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Can plant care teach us self-care?

I've reflected on my experience as a houseplant parent and how caring for my plants has taught me to care for myself, writes Rachel Okell.

I started creating my green sanctuary about five years ago. But in the last year, I've been studying horticulture, and my love affair with plants has become a true passion. Plants calm me, soothe me and invigorate me to learn about them and understand them.

So how did houseplants help me discover self-care? 

In my previous blog post, I explored two of the major benefits of houseplants: their ability to clean the air and remove toxins and how they improve our wellbeing. 

Since then, I've researched more articles and discovered through numerous studies that plants offer so much more. I realised that I've experienced all the benefits houseplants have to offer and that's why I keep coming back for more! So let me break down how caring for my plants taught me to care for myself. 

Tending for plants helps us tend to ourselves

Plants help me remain calm and stay focused, improving my concentration and memory. I keep plants in every room of my house. This alleviates stress and anxiety and helps me keep a tidy space so I can always access and enjoy my plants. When caring for my plants, I am focused on the task and my mind is calm as I go through the motions of checking and watering. I am not bothered with other things in my mind. 

Plants make people happy

Happiness from plants can come in many different ways. I enjoy looking at plants, buying plants, potting plants, caring for plants, learning about plants, propagating plants and, most of all, watching plants grow.

Watching a new leaf unfold is exciting, gratifying and reminds me to keep growing and keep moving forward. A reminder to check my goals, my strategy and realign my routines. We all know mornings are the hardest! 

Speaking of routine, plants love it too! Once a week on a Sunday I ensure to check all my plants for water, and water them if required. I look for bugs, signs of stress and new growth and deal with any nasties I find. When I have a routine with my plants, they are happier and well cared for, which reminds me to stick to my other routines, so I'm happy and well cared for too. Doing this on a Sunday helps me set myself up for a great week; when my plants are tidy, my house is tidy, and I'm ready to start the week.

Plants help us heal

Spending time with plants is therapeutic. I am constantly surrounded by greenery, and I know I'm a healthier person because of it. I feel less anxious, have not had a panic attack and can better manage my mood and stress. Living and working with plants has been the best medicine I could ask for. 

Plants also have many valuable medicinal properties. Two of my favourites are aloe vera and lavender.

Caring for my plants reminds me to take it slow, have a break and do things for myself. As my plants grow and change, I'm reminded to check in with myself too. As the seasons change, I am aware and in the moment, caring for plants helps me stay present. 

My plant passion has led me to an amazing journey of healing and self-discovery. After finding joy in caring for plants, I decided to work in the field and recently started my own business. I write simple gardening advice for houseplant enthusiasts, and I will be providing regular houseplant workshops to the public to encourage others to start their own journey into healthy living with plants.

Did you know?

Horticultural therapy is a well-respected field that has been adopted by hospitals and various health and wellness institutions worldwide. Therapy gardens have been used to assist people with sense impairment, learning difficulties, mental illness and those recovering from trauma and experiencing memory loss. 

Did you know?

Plants used in schools have proven to help children focus and learn, and plants in offices are found to increase productivity and overall happiness at work. 

Rachel Okell is a houseplant expert and the founder of Our Green Sanctuary 

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