S.A.D. AND PLANT THERAPY
Winter conditions have been shown to cause depression symptoms in up to 20% of Americans, so you aren’t alone if the season has you feeling down. Seasonal Affective Disorder (also aptly known as SAD) is common and makes this season feel impossibly long, so while we still have a long wait before spring, some solutions are needed until then.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (S.A.D.)
In the winter, we often stay inside more than we do in the summer - the weather isn’t as inviting and the daylight hours are more scarce. Without as much sun exposure and activity, we can start to feel depressed, and the lack of Vitamin D from sunshine prevents us from getting our serotonin and melatonin levels up.
All of this together makes a physical change in our bodies, and many of us certainly feel it in the winter when our sleep, appetite, energy, and mood start to suffer. Seasonal Affective Disorder looks different for different people, but you might experience:
Sleep changes, like insomnia or increased sleep
Anxiety or social withdrawal
Sadness and guilt
Increased appetite and weight gain
There are lots of common remedies - like light therapy, exercise, supplements, medication, or therapy - and these can all be good choices if they are what you need, but they don’t work for everyone. However, research has recently shown what we’ve suspected all along: that having some green and leafy companions in your home is the perfect way to take a break from the winter blues. Bringing home some plants can be a great way to get a leg up on feeling down this winter, and they have tons of hidden benefits to make your home healthier and happier.
The idea here is simple: choose your favorite plants that make you happy and surround yourself with them at home. Being around a lush oasis right at home and tending to your favorite blooms will help you feel happier and bring pleasure to your everyday life at home. It’s like a tiny escape from the bleak winter, and it’s right at home where and when you need it.
Keeping plants around has been shown to improve your mood, but the benefits are actually much deeper than that. They look amazing and add a fun living aesthetic to your home. They also help to freshen, humidify, and clean the air of your home to keep your body healthier, and depending on your plants of choice, you could even reap benefits, like fresh herbs, in the middle of a bleak winter!
Surrounding yourself with greenery and appreciating the meditative qualities of tending to your indoor garden is the perfect way to take your mind off of the chilly winter weather outdoors, and focus on some positivity in the comfort of your home instead. It’s natural, it’s easy, and you get to keep the benefits all year, instead of just in the winter months.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH YOUR OWN PLANT THERAPY
S.A.D. notoriously makes it tough to get motivated, so getting started can be kept as simple as you want it, and once you have a workspace with a few beautiful plants (and all their benefits) it’ll be easier for you to focus on mental and physical wellness, too! All you need to get started is a few of your favorite plants and a location in your home to start your own oasis. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to grow your collection from a few simple plants to a corner of freshness and vitality with blossoms and hanging vines of green.
Location, location, location: The ideal spot for your plant therapy is a sunny corner of your home where you have a space that you can dedicate to the relaxing presence of your plants while they get the sunlight they desperately need in the winter.
Dim and winter lighting: If sunlight is limited in your home - or your plants are also struggling like you are with the limited daylight - there are plenty of low-light plant varieties that thrive in dim lighting. Consider Snake Plants, Pothos, Ivy, Philodendrons, Rex Begonias, and Anthurium for the less-lit areas of your home. These are simple to care for and will help you focus your energy on enjoying your plants, rather than doting on them.
Alternatively, a small growing light can give your green plant pals the light they crave, while brightening your home. Both you and your plants can bask in the light that you crave in the winter to help get through the blues, adding ambient light to your green oasis.
“BLACK THUMB” ALTERNATIVES
While there are plenty of very low-maintenance options that are beyond simple to take care of, like Spider Plants, Chinese Evergreen, and Peace Lilies, those who worry about their so-called “black thumb” shouldn’t let this anxiety get in the way of a little plant therapy. If starting a green oasis inside sounds a little overwhelming right now, there are lots of essential oils options that have major mood-boosting effects. These are derived from plants and have many of the benefits, without the responsibility. A diffuser and a few drops of oil are a great way to lighten the mood in your home if greenery isn’t an option. Some popular serotonin-boosting oils that will help tackle S.A.D. are:
Bergamot for brightening the mood
Lavender for easing tension and helping your mind and body to relax
Frankincense to help you focus while calming the mind
Basil to soothe tension
Citrus blends to boost energy and motivation
Our winters can be tough, and on the tail end of the holidays, it can certainly feel like an impossible stretch of time before the temperatures warm and blooms and sprouts start outside. Bringing some green sprouts and joy into your home is a great way to bide the time until winter is over, and some new plant pals are a great way to boost your mood and defeat the winter blues until spring returns!