December 9

Feeling Down? Why You Should Try This Surprising (Green) Solution

How To Be Happy


You’re missing something.

Your days are dull. Your mood hovers at a low point. You’ve reached a dismal place and not moved on.

You yearn for a tinkling of your soul. Something that will invigorate you.

Can I share something with you?

You need to bring plants into your life.

Whether it’s in your garden or home you must get closer to trees, plants and flowers.

Greenery reminds you of the world’s beauty. It promotes communion with something bigger than yourself.

Greenery connects you to nature and combats depression.

There is plenty of evidence to prove it.

Having at least one plant in your life can provide a boost to physical and mental well-being. It can give you a sense of peace, calm and control and add to your satisfaction.

Let me show you why:

Graytown is Bad For You

For the last several hundred years or so humans have seen themselves as being above nature - masters of it and superior to it.

Western Civilisation, in particular, reveres the intellect. The ability to think and be rational is one of the most critical attributes someone can possess. The elevation of man above nature started a long time ago but strengthened as science developed and technology progressed.

The general public came to see nature as dumb compared to science, and so less worthy of respect.

And as populations grew and more and more people moved to cities, nature receded further from people’s minds.

Cities still contain parks. Architects line broadways with trees. People keep the appreciation of the ascetic of plants.

Yet our intuitive understanding of plants’ benefits has all but evaporated. We’ve forgotten how essential nature is to our sense of balance.

City planners give too many cities over to concrete, building rows and rows of offices and houses interspersed by only a few trees. Housing estates are grey and drab and have no soul. Parks are few and far between. Farmers over-cultivate the countryside so that it all looks the same. Wildlife everywhere is in retreat.

Yet you can’t remove yourself from nature without there being adverse effects. More and more studies are showing that plants are essential to our well-being.

The evidence is becoming harder to ignore.

Plants Feed Your Body and Soul

Want to recover more quickly after an illness?

Why not follow the scientists at Kansas State University? In an experiment, they added plants to hospital rooms. The result was the rapid recovery rates of surgical patients. Comparing patients in rooms with plants and without researchers found that those with plants had lower heart rates and blood pressure and experienced less anxiety and fatigue. Moreover, they requested less pain medication and left the hospital sooner.

A study by the Dutch Product Board for Horticulture revealed that adding plants to offices had similar effects. Decreasing headaches, colds, sore throats, coughs, fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Another study in Norway saw sickness rates fall by over 60 per cent in offices with plants.

But plants can also help you focus more too, increasing productivity.

Research at The Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester, England found that students show 70% greater effectiveness when taught in rooms containing plants. Attendance was also higher for lectures given in plant-filled classrooms.

“We evolved on earth amongst grasslands surrounded by trees and plants,” says John Beirne, a horticultural therapy instructor at the New York Botanical Garden. “It is no wonder they make us feel at home – for aeons they have fed our bodies and our souls,” he says.

And there are other benefits too:

In a study at an assisted-living facility, some residents received potted plants and instructions on how to look after them. Shortly after, they experienced an improvement in their quality of life. The study’s researchers believe it could be due to the feeling of control and accomplishment the residents had. Or it could be the companionship they felt with their plants (some of the residents talked and sang to them).

“Any time someone takes ownership in something by doing it themselves, they exude pride in accomplishment,” says Gwenn Fried, manager of Horticulture Therapy at New York University. The theory is that being able to nurture is part of the human experience and brings joy.

Other reasons why plants promote calm are that they have a sense of peace around them.

Your busy day and latest frustrations don’t mean anything to them. They are patient and docile and yet alive and growing. Time moves in slow motion for them, and they live at a tranquil pace. It’s when you speed up camera footage that you realise how active they are.

Plants Promote Peace and Restfulness

How can you bring more plants into your life?

There are many ways. Where you live, what you do at the weekend, and how you decorate your house can inspire your choices.

At the very least, everyone can keep one or two plants in their home.

House plants can help purify the air and improve humidity as well as acting as natural air fresheners.

According to NASA, plants can remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours. VOCs tend to be harmful substances like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.

Other studies have shown that the vapour from Lavender (Lavandula) and Jasmine (Jasminum) can lead to a restful sleep. The smell induces a state of tranquillity that helps people nod off.

If you suffer from depression and anxiety, you want to get some plants for your home. Look for ones that suit your needs. If you don’t have time, get cacti or other similar plants that don’t need much watering.

One top tip is to use a self-watering pot. With this type of plant pot, the plant sits on a bed of rock, and you only need to pour water in the side. Fill the funnel until the gauge says max, wait until it drops to min, let the soil dry out and refill. It’s as simple as that. I’ve used one with the plant I keep in my home, and I’ve never looked back. It’s grown so much now I’ve stopped giving it plant food.

Here’s my plant when I first got it:

Kentia Palm plant

And here it is now:

My house plant

There are plenty of plants that are suitable for houses. If you have a room that receives a lot of light, you could start with succulents, for example. Or for a darker place, try philodendrons.

Don’t worry if you’re not green-fingered; everyone makes mistakes when they start. I over-watered an unfortunate plant, killing it, before discovering my self-watering plant pot.

Mistakes are normal.

The best gardeners learn from their errors, and no one starts out knowing what to do. Nature will forgive you.

If you’re feeling unsure, contact a local horticulturist or garden centre manager they’ll be happy to offer lots of advice. You’ll soon have plants to suit your requirements. Start small. Plants such as African violets (Saintpaulia) bloom all year round with little effort.

My plant is a Kentia Palm; it needs only low light levels and little specialist care, while it adds an element of exotic to my living room.

Time to Get Green Fingered

It’s official: greenery is good for you.

Whether it’s walking in the park, tending the garden or staring out your window at a single solitary tree, getting some nature into your life is a positive thing.

Don’t ignore the inside of your home either. Plants bring nature’s benefits into your living room.

If you’re feeling down and are not sure how to improve your situation, why not get a house plant?

If you’re suffering from depression, why not get close to nature?

Or if you feel lonely and isolated, why not join a local gardening group?

Plants are beneficial to us in many ways. Good for our minds and bodies. There’s no doubt about it. The only question is when you will get yours?

Start today and experience the joy and contentment plants can bring.

Related Video: 5 Surprising Health Benefits of Indoor Plants (4.07 min)

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