4 Benefits of Spending Time with Plants
New plant parents, budding urban gardeners, and outdoor enthusiasts unite! You don't need a green thumb to harness the goodness plant life has to offer, just be sure to get in touch with something green each day to feel better.
OVERALL FEELING OF HAPPINESS
Love the smell of soil? Feel better after getting your hands in the garden or spending an afternoon repotting houseplants? Turns out there's a scientific reason for that feeling of quiet tranquility that follows time well spent with our green friends...Bacteria!
Bacteria are the most numerous life forms on our planet, and one specific bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, a microbe present in soil, increases the release of serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for sending and receiving messages throughout our nervous system, and also functions as the hormone responsible for mood, digestion, appetite and emotions. What's even more fascinating is that new research suggests serotonin increases our ability to learn. Although studies show the effects are temporary, it's exciting to think how more exposure to M vaccae means a brighter mind too!
Personally I like to think of serotonin as the happy hormone and am living proof that the more time spent with plant life and connecting with the natural world, the happier I feel. Stress melts away and I get lost for short periods of time, always reemerging in a happier state of mind and body. I offer ways for you to begin this practice in Sacred Elements Guidebook too!
Lucky for us, Mycobacterium vaccae can be found almost anywhere outdoors including your garden, on a nature walk, and in the potting soil of your houseplant!
Plants allow us to focus. Let's do a simple imaginary exercise together. Close your eyes. Begin by picturing a typical office space complete with cubicles, desks, computers, and chairs. Take a deep breath and feel how the air in that environment hits your nose and how it looks. Visualize the space picturing yourself seated in one of those chairs. Remain there for a few seconds and just breathe. Now, begin working on your computer in that environment, really feel the keyboard beneath your fingertips and screen before your eyes. Ready to begin work?
Ok, go ahead and open your eyes. As yourself, is that an appealing place to spend the bulk of your waking hours?
Now try this: Close your eyes again and envision that same office space but begin to add your favorite lush, green, potted plants. Maybe place a few ferns on desktops, visualize pothos and philodendron cascading from ceiling hooks, snake plants perched on file cabinets, ficus and monstera standing tall beside cubicle walls and windows. Now, take an imaginary seat and let your eye travel around the room again. Breathe in deeply and feel the atmosphere. Can you feel the shift? A new vibrant office space alive with color, texture and subtle scent of earth. How does it feel when you start to type on that computer now? Deep breath. Awww, much better.
We have spent most of our human existence living outdoors, evolving in symbiosis with the Earth. When we surround ourselves with plants indoors, we transform a sterile environment into one more reminiscent of that our ancestors experienced. To them, plants meant life, green was (and still is) the key to our survival. Our minds and bodies are able to relax and focus on the task at hand as subconsciously we feel safe and secure when plants are in view. We are less distracted and more able to concentrate.
HEALTHIER MIND & BODY
We know how eating a diet that includes more plants is a healthier choice, can plants also nourish our mind?
Most of our lives are filled with subtle (and not so subtle) stressors. Alarm clocks, traffic, grocery store parking lots, social obligations, family or pet responsibilities, work deadlines, not to mention the ongoing battle with human rights issues, covid, climate change and politics all of which are the undercurrent of our daily lives. These stressors build up over time until our threshold for dealing with them (or anything for that matter) seems overwhelming. That's often due to our body being flooded with too much cortisol.
Cortisol is the body's stress hormone. A wonderful thing for survival when running away from a tiger, not so lovely when we get small hits from it day after day, all day, everyday. Our brains continue to release small doses of cortisol to cope with fight or flight situations, regardless of severity. And friends, these days, do you really blame it?
When we have too much cortisol for long periods of time it leads to anxiety, heart disease, headaches, weight gain, sleep disorder, compromised immune system, and depression. Working with houseplants, going for a stroll among the trees, or working in the garden for just 30 minutes can drastically reduce cortisol levels and bring your body back into balance. How? By allowing your mind to be fully present and in the moment.
We have spent most of our human existence living outdoors, evolving in symbiosis with the Earth. When we surround ourselves with plants indoors for instance, we are transforming a sterile environment into one more reminiscent of that our ancestors experienced. To them, plants meant life, green was (and still is) the key to survival on earth. Our minds and bodies are able to relax and focus more easily on the task at hand as subconsciously we feel safe and secure when plants are in our immediate surroundings.
Humans these days spend over 85% of the time indoors. When we take time to care for our plants we are reconnecting with our natural environment, our minds and bodies feel at home again. Consider it a symbiotic relationship where both plants and humans benefit. And when we feel more at home to the world around us we can feel more deeply rooted in ourselves too. It's a reset button to center and balance our mind, body, and spirit.
The more time you take to reconnect with nature, the more you will experience moments of calm, inspired thoughtfulness that gradually and naturally ripples outward to feeling more connected to others around you. Spending time outside, among the trees, in your garden or Sacred Space will allow you to deepen your connection with the natural world which in turn, allows you to feel happier, less stressed and more balanced.
Hope this encourages you friends!
Karina and Team SE