Plant power: healing ourselves with succulent mental health
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
By Meg Mulcahy
We're taking control over our mental wellbeing and living spaces by healing ourselves with plants. Not only do we love looking at them but we're connecting with other PlantPals on social media, reclaiming the timeline by sharing and connecting in the quest for the wholesome. It's the kind of positive content we needed.
Succulents, many of them in the cactus family, are the most popular choice, especially for beginner plant parents. Succulents are notoriously easy to keep alive, but I've suffered a few losses to over-watering and somehow having no light in our flat. They look lovely, don't need a huge amount of commitment and can just chill on a plate or window sill. The level of care succulents need is perfect. We may have to move out at any time, work mad shifts that mean you forget to take your own meds let alone water a plant properly and you can put them everywhere. They're a source of comfort that literally gives us life in a two-way nurturing partnership.
(My gorgeous little Gynura 'Purple Passion' Vine)
It's been proven that having plants around speeds up recovery for patients, purifies the air and soothes fatigue, flu and stress, but I think subconsciously we're more drawn to the aesthetic of houseplants than we are aware of the benefits. Plants are gorgeous little housemates who just want to be looked at and loved but have boundaries and preferences and we identify with that. I find that when I'm dealing with something traumatic or a difficult situation, I walk into a shop and have a plant picked up within seconds, whether that be a tree in Lidl or a €1.50 flower from Tesco. I may be dealing with something awful internally, but I can take control over how I respond to it and keep myself grounded.
I was growing little black flowers in window boxes on the balcony way before I started collecting plants and turned the sitting room into a Victorian jungle-style conservatory with glass bell-jars. A couple of weeks ago, I YouTubed how to cut and harvest the Gel of Life from my own aloe vera plant. I used it as a face mask and felt like a fucking nymph. I may have the under-eye circles of a corpse but I was untouchable. I've everything from lavender to a fly-catching sundew because they make me happy.
We're out here doing out best while being pitted against each other in the jobs market and rent crisis. A load of shite is being thrown at us and we're making it more bearable with the illusion of life in our spaces. Having plants around helps us heal, focus and is a subtle self-care reminder. Many of us are struggling to thrive in homes we can barely afford, and plants serve as a connection to our roots. They remind us that in the age of tech, we still have power over our domains.