How can we find ways to reconnect with Nature during these uncertain times? What actions can we take, not simply as individuals, but as families to improve our wellbeing?
One small act we can each take from our own homes, and which has proven quite popular amongst parents in particular, is to do some planting. Whether you have a garden or simply some space on your windowsill, you can plant flowers, plants or even try to grow your own vegetables.
Not only does this simple act allow us to reconnect with Nature, with the very Earth itself, but it also has multiple physical and psychological benefits, as well as helping to decrease indoor air pollution.
The Benefits of Indoor Plants
Having plants in your home has been shown to help reduce indoor air pollution. Plants are able to absorb some of the harmful toxins in the air. These include the group of substances known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are most often emitted from paints, furnishing and detergents which we use indoors.
All of the toxins contribute to a condition known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), which can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, skin dryness, headaches, fatigue and chest tightness or wheezing. Luckily, plants can absorb these toxins and break them down into gentler by-products, which they store in their soil to use at a later date for food. Moreover, plants produce oxygen as a result of photosynthesis, which helps to contribute to the quality of the air in your home.
However, there are many more benefits to having plants in your home beyond improving air quality. Having an indoor plant can help to improve psychological, as well as physical wellbeing.
Indoor plants have been found to help improve mood, creativity and reduce stress levels. In some scientific studies (although not all), indoor plants have also been shown to improve concentration, as well as to increase the speed of reactions when engaged in computer tasks. In office environments especially, plants have been found to help support the productivity of workers, whilst in hospital settings, they have been found to help develop increased pain tolerance.
With regards to physical wellbeing, plants can help to reduce headaches, fatigue and blood-pressure. Where plants have been used in hospital rooms, some patients have reported a decrease in post-operative pain.
A Shared Activity
Yet growing plants or vegetables also has additional benefits, especially to families. This is an activity which you can undertake and enjoy doing together, which is perhaps part of the reason it has been so popular during lockdown. Ultimately, it is an activity which you can do as a family, whilst spending meaningful, quality time together.
It’s also an enjoyable (if somewhat messy) activity. Regardless of how well or not your plants/vegetables may grow, by spending time together talking about it, engaging in the act of planting itself, this is time well spent and which can become calming and relaxing.
Not all families have outdoor spaces in which to grow copious amounts of plants or vegetables. But for those in flats, even taking time to plant some seeds in one small pot which is kept by the window can be a fun experience.
There is also something to said for the longevity of the activity because the activity doesn’t end once you’ve planted your seeds. The daily act of watering your plant, checking its growth and progress, observing the changes and the eventual need to repot, make this activity one which you can share for many weeks.
For those with children, it also offers a fantastic opportunity to help teach them about plants and what they need to grow, as well as helping them to develop a sense of responsibility and understanding of what it means to care for plants and other living things in our wider environment. If you choose to grow vegetables, it also opens up the opportunity to talk about where food comes from and ways to grow food more sustainably.
Allowing your children to become involved in the act of caring for your plants and monitoring their growth can be an extremely powerful learning experience. Moreover, children (especially younger children) greatly enjoy watching plants grow. You can even
begin your own family plant diary and help inspire a love and curiosity of plants and nature.
Getting back in touch with nature helps us to reconnect with the Earth itself. It allows us to become (re)grounded, to reduce our levels of stress and mental fatigue. This week, we invite you to find a small way to reconnect with Nature.
Whether you take a walk through a park or woodland, lay down on a patch of grass and allow yourself to simply be, or you embrace your inner child and roll down a hill, find a way which you feel allows you to rediscover Nature.
If you are feeling inspired, why not grow your own plant or vegetables? Even if you only grow one very small plant in a small pot, you may well find that it helps to lift your mood during these challenging times.
As always, we warmly invite you to share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments below.