How talking to your plants might improve your happiness

Do you talk to your plants? If not, maybe you should: nearly half, 48%, of the people surveyed by admitted to talking to leafy creatures.

And the majority of these people, 62%, believe it has helped their mental health.

The survey surveyed 1,250 people, asking if, why and how often they talk to their plants.

Most say they only talk to houseplants. However, 62% talk to outdoor plants and 37% talk to trees walking on the street.

When asked how often they talk to their plants, 70% of participants say “occasionally” and 9% only talk to their plants “rarely”.

But 1 in 5 people say they talk to their plants at home or trees outside every single day.

And over a fifth of the participants, 27.67%, say they hugged a plant and even 22.5% kissed one.

When asked why they participate in what most would consider an unusual practice, these were some of the answers:

  • “I think it’s fun and I’ve read that it helps them grow.”
  • “I am proud and happy because my plants are beautiful !!”
  • “They have feelings and when I talk to my plants, they move.”
  • “They are our beautiful friends [I want to] thank them for their beauty. Houseplants help with oxygen [too]I believe.”
  • “I don’t know I have a reason. I think it’s more just me thinking aloud.”

Caring for plants can be beneficial for mental health

Regardless of how you choose to interact with your plants, owning the oxygen-producing organisms can be beneficial for overall health, including mental health, according to Gary Altman, director of the horticultural therapy program at Rutgers University.

“Having plants in your home or office really helps to increase positive feelings and reduce feelings of fear and anger, which are associated with that uncertainty about what’s to come next,” Altman tells CNBC Make It.

Plant care as a form of healing is called horticultural therapy, and Altman describes the practice as “the use of plants for the purposes of treatment and rehabilitation for people recovering from illness or injury or adjusting to a disability “.

The treatment can be used for people struggling with mental health and those with physical or developmental / intellectual disabilities, according to Altman.

Horticultural therapy allows people to process the challenges they are facing in their lives by shifting the focus to being in control of something that is more predictable, he notes.

“Just step away from the thing that is stressing you and turn to your plants for a few minutes, perhaps misting them, watering them,” says Altman, “This gives you some space to get some sanctity.”

Not to mention, having a plant on your desk while you work has been linked to less stress and anxiety during work hours.

And studies have found that the longest-lived people in the world garden as a hobby.

Being a plant parent can also teach you valuable lessons before committing to a huge responsibility like getting a pet, says Altman.

Looking at your plant can be a check-in for yourself to decide if you’re ready to take a big step that holds more weight, he adds.

“It’s kind of like a tool to measure how well you’re doing,” Altman says. “It’s about learning that nurturing skill, so for people who may not be in the best place in your life, there may be a lesson to be learned there.”

You can also reap some of the benefits of having a real plant if you consider alternatives like aesthetically pleasing artificial plants and pictures of nature hung around your home, he says.

But it’s also important to remember that as a first-time plant owner, there will be ups and downs.

“I’ve just learned from my mistakes, so I encourage people not to be discouraged if their plants don’t grow, thrive, and look as beautiful as they might look on Instagram,” says Altman.

“That’s not the point. The point is to learn from experience and from doing”.

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