As the levels of quality of life and life expectancy get higher, we start to focus more on our health and well-being. Having a therapist, being vegan, or taking supplements is no longer something you can be ashamed of, as these practices are becoming ubiquitous in our environments. We watch documentaries about healthy diets and work out videos. More and more people start caring about their spirituality as they sign up for meditation and yoga classes, or get involved in religious communities. We even start to care about our food being organic and free of chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives.
However, a lot of people are not interested in plant-based diets, yoga, meditation, or working out. As these practices are currently in fashion, we tend to forget, that they can be hard to implement for some people and even unsuitable for others. A fully plant-based diet can be improper for people with certain health conditions and the same applies to any other wellness practice out there. So in order to make sure everyone can take care of their health in the way that is right for them, we need to popularize some less mainstream practices and show that they too are an option.
One of the most overlooked practices that boost our mental and physical health is plant cultivation. The skill of caring for plants is hereditary from our ancestors, and when we put our hands into the soil, all of these instincts within ourselves awake. Plant cultivation makes us calmer, happier, more immune, more physically capable, and just much more healthy, which is proven by numerous scientific studies.
Physical health benefits
The most obvious, yet very significant physical benefit of plant nurturing is the improved air quality. According to the World Health Organization 4.2 million people a year are killed by air pollution. That number is horrific and proves how crucial it is to care about improving the quality of the air we breathe. Thus, a great way to do that is to surround yourself with plants, which store huge amounts of CO2, as a factor of photosynthesis, and also release the precious oxygen we so desperately need. Furthermore, a study from Washing State University shows that the presence of plants in a room lowers the levels of dust and particulate matter, which can lead to numerous health conditions.
Then, it is necessary to mention that plant cultivation promotes physical exercise, especially when it takes the form of gardening and it becomes an outside activity. For example, in order to report a plant, you need to lift the plant, get rid of the old soil, put the plant in a new pot, lift the bag of fresh dirt, put that new dirt into the pot – and before you notice, you’ve done a full-body workout.
Caring for plants is also a great way to reduce the levels of cortisol, which is also called a stress hormone, and in excess, it can be responsible for high blood pressure, weight gain, sleep insomnia, and a lot of other serious health conditions.
Mental health benefits
The physical benefits of plant cultivation are amazing, but this practice primarily improves our mental health, which in this day and age can be an even more important factor. A study from 2015 shows that an active interaction with plants decreased subjects’ stress levels, made them feel more comfortable and less anxious. This phenomenon can be explained as a result of other effects of plant cultivation.
First, providing care to plants induces the feeling of mindfulness, as we tend to get completely immersed and preoccupied with that activity. We smell the scent of that plant, feel the dirt between our fingers, and become aware of our thoughts concerning how we can properly nurture that plant.
Furthermore, the activity of plant nurturing improves our mood, which can then be intensified if we like how the plant smells or looks. A study published in “Neuroscience” found a bacteria in the soil that when in contact with our body, can induce the production of serotonin, which is also called the happiness hormone.
It is also proven that plant cultivation improves our ability to focus and makes us more confident. This is most probably the effect of the activity of caring for someone or something , which often boosts our self-esteem and gives us a sense of purpose. And a study from 2015 shows that having a sense of purpose is necessary for human mental health and even prolonged life span.
In brief, there are numerous health benefits of plant cultivation and if you’re interested in implementing a healthy practice in your life, you should consider caring for plants among other, more mainstream ones. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you turn your apartment into a jungle. First, think about how much space do you have and what kind of plants would be suitable for your current living conditions. Easy plants with which you can start your journey are: snake plants, pothos, aglaonema, aloe, ivy, rubber plant, and all kinds of succulents. Then, after you decided which one is going to be your first plant baby, do some research and make sure you know how to take care of its needs. And then, you’re ready to welcome the new addition to your family to which you can rant, grumble, gossip, and show your truest self without the fear of ever being judged.
No matter what kind of activity you do to take care of your mental and physical health, it is necessary to have one among your habits, because with the constant comparison created by social media and our daily hustle, the cases of depression and chronic anxiety increase, so without these healthy practices, we will not be able to keep up with the ever-changing world.