Six plant practices that can help improve mental health

Erin Kobayashi

Plants are a way for me to self-care and help with my mental health. I find that plants really help calm me down and bring me joy- and even remind me to take better care of myself. When I see my plants suffer and I care for them, it reminds me that I also need some love!

Here are six simple ways I connect to plants which have helped improve my mental health:

Take a forest bath

One way to incorporate green into your life is a walk in the woods. Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese therapy practice that literally translates into “forest bath”. It encourages people to get outside and reconnect with nature.

Considering Canadians spend 90% of each day indoors, some allotted time in the great outdoors observing nature (shinrin-yoku shouldn’t be confused with exercising or hiking) using all of our senses can help us destress and relax. Better yet, it's free.

Take a real bath

Since I use plants as a way to unwind and ground myself, it’s only natural I want to use plant-based products in my self-care routine, particularly when I bathe. Herbal Essences’ bio:renew collection is 90% naturally derived meaning the majority of the natural ingredients undergo limited processing that feels gentle on my virgin hair. I’m also more at ease knowing that Herbal Essences harvests its handpicked aloe sustainably and that the pure plant extracts used in their formulas have been endorsed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Scientists.

Productivity

Since more companies are embracing working from home, now is the time to add that plant to your makeshift desk. I found it fascinating to read a 2014 study that showed office spaces enriched by plants boosted productivity by 15%. Not only can plants increase workplace satisfaction and self-reported levels of concentration, a 2020 study revealed one small plant on your table can lead to lower levels of anxiety and stress. It’s truly the little things that can make a huge difference now that more Canadians are working remotely.

Repotting

When I say being around my plants is my happy place, I’m not kidding. I like to think of soil as a natural antidepressant since microbes in dirt can tweak the same neurons that are stimulated by Prozac. When you’re repotting your houseplants or work in your garden, don’t be afraid to take the gloves off and really interact with the dirt since contact with soil can help elevate mood and decrease anxiety.

Routine

Adding a plant care routine into your week can give you a sense of normalcy. Schedule to take an hour (or two, depending on how many plants you have!) once a week to really interact with your plants. Whether I am handwashing dust off leaves or checking to see how damp or dry soil is, adding a plant game plan for some much-needed “me” time is something I’ve come to look forward to every week.

Let it go

Ever heard of the phrase, “letting go of toxic people is an act of self-care”? Same goes for plants. At one point during my plant parenthood, I had amassed over 65 plants. New plant parents can go overboard with collecting and often forget all of the work that goes into keeping plants happy and healthy. Also, if you’re living in a small space, it’s important to remember that plants grow and will need more room to spread their leaves. Recognizing that I felt overwhelmed by the amount of plants I had accumulated and their growing needs, I let go and gifted plants to friends and family. It was actually a sense of relief knowing that the plant was going to a loving home and I felt good about myself because I was able to recognize and accept my limits. Plants should not make you feel bad, they should make you feel inspired.

Now that you’ve incorporated more plants into your life and got some dirt under your nails, I definitely recommend taking a relaxing shower and throwing Herbal Essences Potent Aloe Collection into the mix. Hopefully the plant-based Potent Aloe & Hemp Sulfate Free shampoo will hydrate your hair as much as mine so you not only look your best but feel your best. Because that’s the power of plant positivity!

As the saying goes, drink water and get sunlight because we’re basically houseplants with more complicated emotions!