Plants and Mental Health

It’s no secret that plants can do wonders for mental health. Whether it’s the act of caretaking, the return to nature, or the escape from modern-day stresses, taking care of plants makes us feel good. I thought it would be fun to delve into some of the reasons why plants can be so beneficial to mental health.

Let’s start with the act of caretaking. Taking care of something can make us feel fulfilled. Watching something thrive can make us feel satisfied. Feeling fulfilled and satisfied lays the foundation for positive mental health. Sometimes, just the act of taking care of a plant can tip the scales from feeling worthless to feeling useful.

green plant on white wooden table
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Being the reason that something is successful not only makes us feel good but helps us with our own success. We may not always feel self-worthy and proud, but we can look at our small accomplishments and feel good about ourselves. It really can be a model for how we live if we let it. A little bit of sunlight, some water, and the right conditions is what a plant needs to thrive. Similarly, we as people need simple constants and conditions to be healthy.

Nature makes us feel good. Whether it’s the feeling of sunshine on our skin, the sound of running water, or the presence of wildlife, being outdoors helps us feel better. I know that for me, the lockdown for COVID-19 was a wake-up call. Being isolated and stuck indoors did not feel good. I was able to realize how important it was for me to spend time outdoors. And how much better it made me feel when I took the time to do it.

person in blue denim jeans lying on brown wooden table
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Bringing a little piece of nature indoors with a houseplant can be so beneficial to the atmosphere of your space. For example, when our living space is full of clutter, it often reflects our mental state. I know that when my kitchen counter is messy I simply can’t focus. It just doesn’t feel comfortable. Likewise, putting plants in our living space can make us feel happy. It can create a moment of escape from our daily lives, or our jobs, and promote a return to nature.

Sometimes we get so busy and focused on our jobs or daily chores that we simply forget to look up. There might be laundry to do, sheets to change, dinner to prepare, or just long days at work, navigating coworker relationships, and trying to make enough money to live comfortably. Whatever it is, it’s always nice to have a break. Plants can offer that escape.

Taking time to water, inspect new growth, treat for pests, repot, prune, or even just taking a moment to look at your plants gives your mind a break. It’s these moments from daily stresses that are so important to your overall well-being. I know for me, that if I didn’t let myself take breaks I wouldn’t feel as accomplished about my day. It’s these little moments that houseplants create that are so beneficial to mental health.

photo of plants on the table
Photo by Designecologist on

So whatever is going on emotionally in my life, I can always turn to my gardening hobby for a moment of peace. That’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and daisies. I’ve had my fair share of plant losses, pest infestations, and other stresses that are created by having plants. Not to mention things that actually happen in my day-to-day life that are anything but plant related. But getting through these and creating small victories only helps me with everything else going on in my world.

Today, I’m going to try to let myself take a moment and appreciate why I have plants and what they do for me. Tomorrow, if I see a spider mite or torn leaf I’ll probably freak out about it. But that’s okay too.

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Graphic designer, artist, and social media specialist working in Philadelphia, PA.