Plants and Wellbeing
Connecting With Nature is Good for Us.
Why Are Plants Good For Us?
We're constantly amazed by all that connecting with nature can do for our wellbeing, whether its making us feel calm, giving us energy, or providing a sense of purpose. If you want a bit of the science, there are two main theories on why plants are important. One is Attention Restoration Theory, which explains that time in nature restores our brains, which haven't evolved to keep up with the stresses of the modern world and are often fatigued as a result. The second is Psychoevolutionary Theory (a bit of a mouthful) which explains our instinctive emotional response to certain triggers. Most people are 'biophilic,' which means nature-loving. We have a natural positive response to nature, which encourages us to release positive hormones which make us feel happier.
Connecting with Calm
When we're surrounded by nature, there are immediate physiological benefits. Our blood pressure and breathing regulates almost immediately, while cortisol (the stress hormone) dips after 20 minutes spent outside or gardening. One of the reasons nature makes us feel calm is that plants have naturally-occurring fractal patterns (fractal means they repeat), which our minds find restorative. A 2015 study indicated that fractals in nature trigger a physical response which makes us feel relaxed yet alert.
Our brains are often overstimulated from laptops and screens, and spending time connecting with nature has been proven to improve focus and restore our productivity. One study back in 2007 proved that spending just 20 minutes in a garden 3 times a week improves concentration and focus.
Gardening can be a very mindful activity: we have to look at our plants, work out what they need, and nurture them so that they thrive. Being a plant parent gives a sense of purpose, and thinking about nature helps us to connect to the world around us.
In a world that is increasingly dominated by technology and consumption, gardening puts us in a direct relationship with the reality of how life is generated and sustained - Sue Stuart-Smith