Depression, connection, and the role of plants during a pandemic, and beyond
Consider this as a rambling editorial. The line ups and prices at the local plant shop have been increasing ever since the pandemic started, is there a correlation? It seems to me that the growing isolation that the average person is going through, has made people yearn for more nature in their life, more connection, perhaps being surrounded by plants gives this to us in some sort of way.
First I thought, does this make any sense? To be fair we saw a big uptick in people just buying stuff too, stuck at home, many of us do some amazon consuming. But I think there is something different going on here when it comes to the budding, excuse the pun, popularity of plant ownership among people of all backgrounds. I think there are three main reasons for this.
1-We miss the natural world. The biggest consumers of plants are in the big cities, of course this is where the population is most dense, but I think it is more than that. Even in a city such as Toronto where there is more concrete and glass than green space, just being outside does provide some interaction with nature. Be it strolling through a park, tossing a Frisbee on the beach or simply relaxing in the shade of a beautiful old maple, we still had some earthly connection. When lock down came in those activities were no longer possible and people, consciously or not, began to yearn for it. After all, in the evolutionary scale of human existence, only extremely recently have we become so disconnected from nature. Perhaps this fills a yearning that we have to be more connected to the earth.
2-Control, now that is probably one that you did not expect to see, but lets unpack this. When you select your new houseplant you bring it home excited, you alone ,are in control of the fate of this leafed friend. You select the right spot with the perfect lighting, you set up the watering schedule and you also keep a keen eye out for those pesky pests. In such an uncertain world, this does give you the feeling of control, the feeling of making sure something is taken care of, a very basic human emotion. Especially when you factor in our increasing isolation, for many people, plants have become a true and measurable personal relationship.
3-The body knows what it wants, even if we do not. We are in a pandemic as this is written, we are hyper focused on our health, the air we breath and the content we take in. Well, what is one thing that many plants do better than man made contraptions, purify our air. The list is endless but so many of our favorite houseplants such as Sansevieria, bamboo palm, English ivy and aloe vera are actively working for our health while in our homes. Especially at this time, we are more focused on the air we breath than ever before, perhaps we even have a subconscious draw to these plants.
As I said at the start of this, these are simply rambling thoughts, but it appears I am not alone in my thinking. I recently read a fascinating article about doctors in the UK essentially prescribing houseplants to depressed patients. Interested? Follow the link below to read the article, I found it very interesting.
As our mental health goes, so to goes our physical health. Perhaps we are on to something here. Or perhaps we are just bored and this is something that will fizzle out over time. I think we are on to something, and that this is here to stay, but what do I know?
What do you think??