While many of us rely on retail therapy as a coping mechanism, purchasing a plant may actually be truly beneficial to improved mental health. Even just the act of purchasing a plant can make us feel good and be a form of self-care.
Registered horticulture therapist and vice president of the American Horticultural Therapy Association Patty Cassidy explains: “People want to have living things in their homes like plants because there also is an emotional attachment.” This may explain that happy feeling we get when we get home to see a beautiful, blooming plant waiting for us.
But it doesn’t end there. There’s been plenty of research done that show that merely looking at green plants have a calming effect and can even reduce anxiety. Beyond that, some plants even serve as natural air purifiers. Most of all, taking the time to tend to and care for a plant benefits our mental health. While some people resist the responsibility or watering and tending to plants, this is why some people are attracted to caring for plants in the first place.
This is where horticultural therapy comes in. This type of therapy aids those struggling with addiction or depression, abuse survivors, as well as elderly people with memory inconsistencies. The psychological theory that underpins horticultural therapy is “biophilia,” which refers to the fact that humans are both instinctively and genetically linked to the natural world, which includes plants.
“We know that nature is life-giving, so there’s that kind of survival instinct that we know nature is really important to us,” says Cassidy. Even if you don’t have access to nature nearby, owning a plant while living in a city or an apartment can help restore that connection to nature that we crave as humans.
Taking up gardening as a hobby is also beneficial for your mental health. The physical contact with the plants and keeping your hands busy can help alleviate stress. The learning process within itself is also beneficial, as Cassidy explains: “It’s a process of experimentation and getting experience.”
If you fear that you don’t have a green thumb, consider purchasing a low maintenance plant as a starter. With time, you’ll learn how to properly care for your plants and you won’t fear killing them anymore.