Plant Therapy For Depression And Anxiety: The Healing Power Of Nature
The current coronavirus pandemic is a particular and rare situation that can make us feel overwhelmed. Here at Aerify we deeply care about mental health, and now more than ever, we want to remind you of the surprisingly beneficial impact of nature on our health, and how it can support our bodies and souls.
While depression is a condition that millions of people around the world already face every day, periods of self-isolation or quarantine can cause additional stress and anxiety.
In addition to therapy and similar treatments, you can help reduce these symptoms by growing plants inside your home. In fact, plants have a natural healing power that can improve mood, and help you manage the repercussions of these kinds of reactions on your life.
About Stress And Anxiety During The Coronavirus Pandemic
Stress, anxiety, and depression can be common in the context of a pandemic and they appear in a variety of physical, psychological, emotional, and behavioral symptoms:
· Avoiding anyone from outside the home because of fear of contagion
· Obsessively monitoring coronavirus symptoms
· Headaches, neck tension, gastrointestinal problems
· Sleep problems
· Lower appetite
· Lower energy, fatigue
· Virus-related worries and insecurity
· Feelings of being overwhelmed by events, powerlessness
· A negative vision of things or daily events
· Feelings of discouragement, insecurity, sadness, anger
· Inability to concentrate
· Irritability, aggression
· Difficulty in taking decisions
· Intense, frequent crying
· Irritability and aggression, conflict with other members of the household
· Alcohol, drug, and medication abuse
Minimizing The Repercussions In Your Daily Life
Use only reliable sources of information and avoid contradictory or sensationalist news reports. Limit the exposure—information overload can aggravate your symptoms.
Take care of yourself with healthy living habits such as proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, and physical activity to let the stress out and eliminate tension.
Observe your feelings, emotions, and reactions, and allow yourself to voice them or write them down.
Give yourself a present every day, small pleasures such as listening to music, taking a warm bath, dancing, reading, etc.
Remain in contact with people that make you feel good.
Focus on your strengths and remind yourself of past winning strategies you used to get through difficult times.
Set limits for yourself: avoid stressors, refuse non-essential tasks, delegate, and let others help you with household chores.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a depressed state, which impairs and reduces the overall quality of life. Different factors can contribute to depression development, including genetic factors, external factors, and even factors such as nutrition and exercise.
The symptoms of depression may be severe or long-lasting, and include:
· Continuous low mood or sadness
· Feeling hopeless, helpless, tearful and guilt-ridden
· Low self-esteem
· Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
· No motivation or interest in things
· Difficulty to make decisions
· Not getting any enjoyment out of life
· Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
· Lack of energy
· Loss of libido
· Changes to your menstrual cycle
· Disturbed sleep
If you have been diagnosed with depression or you are currently experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk with your doctor about it. Your health team will create a treatment plan based on your needs, which will help you improve your quality of life. In addition to counseling-based therapy, your health team may recommend various types of life improvement therapy – plant therapy can be one of them. Talk with your physician about options for managing your condition, including plant therapy, that can be done right in your own home.
How Plants Can Improve Depression, Anxiety, And Stress
Plants can help improve some of the symptoms experienced by people suffering from depression and anxiety by:
· Providing exposure to natural, green elements that increase mood
While connecting with nature has always been proved to help people feel less stressed, indoor plants can have the potential to be healing and therapeutic.
Firstly, plants will bring the beauty and wonder of nature right into your own home. A group of houseplants gathered in the corner of your living room will make you feel as if you have walked into a jungle. By closely watching your plants grow, you will be able to follow this miracle of life, step by step, and develop a deeper connection to nature.
Also, plants make any interior space look more aesthetically pleasing so that you will feel more comfortable in your own home. Their vibrant colors and textures can beautify any room—and looking at something beautiful will surely make you happier.
Moreover, when you touch the soil, some microscopic soil bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae enter your system. They generate serotonin and dopamine, which both produce a feeling of happiness. Furthermore, these "friendly" bacteria are proved to boost our immune system: scientists believe that soil could prevent asthma, allergies, and other illnesses.
And probably, while having plants at home, you will be exposed to more sunlight, the same light necessary for your plants to grow. Consequently, your vitamin D intake will increase, and your bone health and immune system function will improve.
· Creating a calming ritual that gives purpose
It's been proved that having a routine can restore our sense of control over our lives and help reduce anxiety and stress.
Taking care of plants is a great ritual we can benefit from during hard times. It feels good to know that, every day, something is happening at a regular time—it could be watering your plants or just checking on them.
Routines can regularize your life and reinsert a sense of control, in a time when you might feel like you lost it.
· Increasing motivation, confidence, and ability to focus
Growing plants can give a chance to relax and enjoy a quiet, reflective hobby. You have a task to focus and reflect on, which can take away from feelings of anxiety and fear. It helps you be present in the "here and now" and switches off negative thoughts.
Also, nurturing plants gives a sense of accomplishment—taking care of a living thing increases our sense of self-worth and contentment. As the days go by, you will start seeing the fruits of your labor, and it will give you great joy. Seeing your plants grow and thrive thanks to your careful care will help you feel more confident in yourself and your ability to go through life stages. This type of mental stimulation is extremely rewarding and helps boost your brainpower while giving you the satisfaction of a job well done. Seeing your plants growing and thriving due to your work and dedication will make you feel delighted and fulfilled.
Moreover, caring for plants can be a unique challenge that stimulates your mind and gets yourself familiar with taking up and meeting responsibilities. Research has shown that employees are more productive and attentive when indoor plants are included in the workplace.
· Teaching about patience and kindness
Houseplants can teach you a lot about compassion and forgiveness. They are living reminders that you are living too, and sometimes, that needs patience. You need to be gentle with your plants, and this will push you to be more gentle with yourself.
Caring for plants can help you challenge your own emotions. You can feel impatient—wanting plants to grow faster, or better, or bigger. When a plant isn’t doing well, you can be sad, or you can feel guilty because you realize you gave too much water or too much light. Gardening can be intimidating and frustrating sometimes; all you have to do is feeling those emotions without being judgemental to yourself.
With time, you will learn that for your houseplants to grow and thrive, you need to dedicate yourself to know everything about their environment and growing conditions; you have to research what type of lighting and soil they need, learn how to prune and take care of them. It will take time and patience.
· Promoting better sleep thanks to increased oxygen and relaxing scents
Currently, one major downside of spending the majority of our days at home is the lack of fresh air and oxygen. Luckily, houseplants come to rescue, producing oxygen and clean air for all of us.
Placing certain plants in your bedroom can have a calming effect and promote a healthy sleep pattern: you will get plenty of fresh, clean oxygen and transform your bedroom into a more liveable and breathable space.
Some plants can make you relax and breathe easier: they can remove toxins, bad odors, raise the oxygen in the room and remove pollution from the air.
Flowering plants such as Jasmine and Lavender will have a gentle and soothing effect on your mind and body. Their delightful scent, known to be calming and soothing, will help you reducing anxiety and insomnia.
· Reducing feelings of stress and frustration
Gardening is linked to mental clarity by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Plants seem to be "positively distracting" and help in shifting the focus away from the difficulties. For this reason, doctors recommend gardening to people who have had a loss in their lives.
Studies have also shown that gardening manages to reduce cortisol—the stress hormone.
Plant Therapy Ideas
Plant therapy can be used in conjunction with more traditional methods of therapy, such as talking to a counselor, engaging in group therapy, and so on.
Since plant therapy is relatively inexpensive, it is particularly popular with people who want affordable and creative ways to manage their symptoms.
Create a rainbow garden
Instead of growing random houseplants, choose a few different plants with a different primary color to grow alongside one another. You can create a “rainbow” garden that has plants showcasing a variety of pleasing colors and shades.
Grow something difficult
if you are looking for a challenge, consider picking out a trickier houseplant to grow inside your home. This will help increase your focus while giving you something to strive towards as you work on managing your symptoms.
Grow flowering plants
If you have ever used essential oils or perfumes to help you relax, then it should come as no surprise that you can also grow the actual flowers themselves for their relaxing properties. Growing scented flowering plants, such as Lilacs, Lavender or Jasmine, can help you improve your mood, sleep better, and ease other depression symptoms.
[Sources: Quebec.ca, Mayoclinic.org]