Connecting with Nature - Digging Deeper
Updated: Jan 20
The majority of us are spending more time at home than ever before. Not only on our own but with whole families juggling working from home along with homeschooling. Some of us are exposed to have limited greenery, there is no garden to play in, the view from the window is a grey car park. With this in mind, it's so important to be bringing the outside in. With numerous studies proving house plants are beneficial I want to dive deeper into the human connection with plants.
Growing, nurturing, and looking after an indoor plant is rewarding; it's therapeutic resulting in us having a better relationship with nature. At a time where the world is feeling so grey, getting hands-on, assessing our footprint on the planet, and appreciating nature couldn't come at a better time!
All plants originated as outdoor plants, however, we have created and adapted environments for millions of species to thrive indoors. There is a huge, overwhelming choice of plants that will happily live in our homes with the right watering and light needs.
We know that plants in the home increase productivity, clean our air, and look aesthetically pleasing but I want to keep digging deeper into the positive effect that plants have on our mental health.
Those who are more skeptical may find the idea that plants influence the way we behave and feel, a bit too much...
Any surrounding environment impacts how we feel; when it's dark outside we understand it's time to relax and sleep. In 1982 Balling and Falk investigated human preferences for certain types of habitat. They asked a group of participants where they would prefer to live; a forest, a desert, the tropics, or the savanna. The overwhelming chosen result was the savanna. When analyzing the findings and looking at the Evolutionary theory it is suggested that the preference for landscapes such as the savanna is linked to being the first environment where humans evolved and thrived, making it the most comfortable and safe choice.
When you picture a savanna it's serotypical plants are tree's, that have canopy like formations. Research has proven that we have a natural attraction towards trees with certain attributes and this links back to a person's habitat preference.
Not only do we turn to nature to feel safe and grounded but it's proven that plants can help attract our attention by turning our focus inwards which enables us to lead organised and purposeful lives. Have you ever felt irritable? This is the hallmark of when you haven't been able to draw direct attention to a natural environment. Kaplan's Attention Restoration Theory looks at the principle that our energy and attention capacity is reduced when we find ourselves in environments we are ill-adapted to, on an evolutionary level.
Nature provides us with 4 types of components that encourage us to be more effective, productive, and creative, resulting in better relationships.
- Fascination: Are you fascinated with nature? If you look closely you might notice that nature provides us with fractal pattern forms that repeat, they are everywhere. This can be seen in many plants but a good example can be seen with Ferns. Science has proven that display fractals, either in the leaf or bark patterns or in the growth formation result in alpha brainwaves sending us into a relaxed yet awaked state.
- Being away: Refers to a sense of escape from aspects of our everyday lives. Stepping into nature, creating indoor gardens in our homes helps us put our everyday worries and routines aside. When you start watering your plants do you notice that your brain slows down? Do you use your plant caring responsibilities as 'you time?'
- Extent: This relates to the way that spending time in nature brings a welcome sense of perspective and cohesion, that we are a part of a bigger picture beyond the 4 walls of our homes. Trying to mirror the extent in your home might seem tricky but it's important to choose a plant that you connect with. When you walk into the plant shop, is there a plant that jumps out at you over the others? Is there a plant that you can connect with through your life rhythm? Calathea's are a great example of syncronising with our lives...their leaves opening with daylight and closing again at night.
- Compatibility: It takes us less effort to do something we want to do when our environment resonates with us, so immersing yourself in a plant compatible environment brings about confidence. Connecting with the wider world is an intrinsic human need so the more you enjoy or see the positives of bringing plants into your homes and workspaces the more relaxed you will be and your sense of 'being away' will increase. Do you have a spare room that you hardly use? Do you have a cozy nook in your lounge where you could add greenery, giving you that connection of being with nature? Living foliage in our environment is not difficult to achieve... remember...
Nature is free, it's up to us to use it and find ways to restore our diminished connection to Mother Earth