The idea of Blue Monday and the January Blues has been squabbled about for years. It’s the time of year where it’s absolutely freezing, we’re skint from going overboard on the Christmas gift sets, and our New Year’s Resolutions may be falling by the wayside.
Whether you are sceptical about Blue Monday, or you are a true believer in it, it’s perfectly normal to be feeling a little deflated after your Christmas break, especially when you have devoured the last of the leftover turkey – no more turkey sandwiches for you! And it’s also natural to start having doubts about our New Year resolutions. Not only that, more than 70% of us blame darkness for people feeling low over the winter months. In this article we explore the benefits of connecting with the natural world in your everyday life, and how watching your house plant grow can help you grow as person too!
The Impact of Weather and Seasonal Changes
Many of us are affected by a change in the season, perhaps feeling a lack of energy, changing sleep patterns or low mood in the winter. We may call this the ‘winter blues’. But if these changes interfere with your day-to-day life, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression.
SAD affects up to three in 100 people at some point in their life, and it’s important to speak to your GP if you suspect you have symptoms. Lack of motivation from SAD, or a reluctance to go outside due to a person’s individual circumstances, or even agoraphobia, may lead to spending less time outdoors; and studies have shown spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing.
However, whilst it’s possible that a change and season and spending less time outdoors may have a negative impact on well-being, that’s not a hard and fast rule for everyone. MIND, a mental health charity that’s been running for over 70 years, want to remind people this year that: “Depression can happen at any time and that Mind is available to help people throughout the year. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one then it is important to seek support.”
The Benefits of Plants
Here are three common New Year’s resolutions that show how plants can help you stay on track if the weather, particular situation, or something else is getting down
1) Finish that project
Houseplants improve cognitive function, memory, concentration, and overall mental wellness, which can be particularly useful if you are still getting used to working from home and adjusting to the ‘new normal’. In a study conducted by The Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester (England), it was found that 70% students were more attentive in the class with plants around. A 2007 study showed that people with more plants in their workspace took fewer sick days and were more productive on the job.
2) The Power of Positivity
Changing our mind-set around certain things in life can be extremely powerful, and an environment that includes natural elements can put a skip in people’s step. We are hardwired to the shapes, colours and sounds of nature. Indoor plants, sounds of the outdoors and water features bring us peace – that’s why a lot of meditation podcasts use water features and sounds of an enchanting forest.
3) Practice Self-Care
One thing that rings true throughout the entire year, but might be particularly helpful in January, is that plants and staying connected to the outdoors can improve mood and combat depression and anxiety. Did you know (and you may be surprised to find out!), medical clinics in Manchester, England are now “prescribing” potted plants to patients with depression or anxiety symptoms. Researchers at Trusted Source have used horticultural therapy and indoor gardening to increase feelings of well-being among people with depression, anxiety, dementia, and other conditions. Plants can also benefit your home by reducing humidity and the risk of damp. What most of us don’t know is that plants also release moisture in the air during photosynthesis. Around 97% of the water plants consume, they release, which gets rid of dry air and improves respiratory problems.More outdoor goals for the New Year
The Top 5 House Plants
To get you started with bringing the outdoors indoors, we match our top five plants to five rooms in your home, and provide some top tips on how to care for your houseplants.
1) Peace Lily
- Where to Place: Ideal for a bright bathroom
- Plus Points: Don’t need much light, easy to grow, clean and purify the air
- How to Keep: Bright spot out of direct sunlight, water on a regular basis and keep moist. In spring and summer, feed fortnightly with liquid house plant food. Dehead spent blooms and dust leaves. Shelter from cold draughts.
- Where to Place: Conservatory
- Plus Points: Pet-friendly. Closes its leaves at night and opens them in the morning to protect itself. Cleans and purifies the air
- How to Keep: Place in medium to bright indirect light
- Where to Place: Kitchen
- Plus Points: Easy to care for, low maintenance, great ornamental value.
- How to Keep: Stems can be pruned at any point to keep plant under control.
4) Chinese Money Plant
- Where to Place: Living Room
- Plus Points: One of the best air purifying plants on the list. This small plant is easy to move around the house and has lush green leaves.
- Where to Keep: Keep in bright, direct sunlight. Keep leaves free from dust.
5) Spider Plant
- Where to Place: Bedroom
- Plus Points: Another fantastic option for purifying the air, easily placed on windowsills.
- How to Keep: Grow in well-drained soil. Do not allow the plants to become too soggy to avoid root rot. Repot only when their large, fleshy roots are highly visible.
Outdoor Gardening Advice
Of course, there’s nothing holding you back from getting green-fingered and dabbling in spot of outdoor gardening either. You could sweep up any fallen leaves, check the winter weather hasn’t had any tarnished the garden ornaments or garden shed, and get the kids to top up the bird table.
Take a trip to the garden centre with the family to pick out new garden gnomes or new plants, seeds, or flowers to plant, then grab a hot choc from the secret garden café afterwards. If your little ones want a say in where the ornaments go, let them choose where to put them.