It’s no secret—and no surprise—that the past year has altered what we consider “normal” in our daily lives. For most people, 2020 meant spending time in prolonged periods of isolation. However, isolation is a daily struggle for many older adults even outside the forced isolation of the coronavirus pandemic. Isolation is detrimental to mental health, and it can also make it difficult to feel like you’re in control of a situation.
For many people, getting a pet is a logical solution to feelings of loneliness, boredom, and isolation. But pets are also a major commitment. Energetic animals like puppies and kittens can be difficult to care for and train. Even “adult” pets can still be difficult to handle, especially if they require lots of walking, playtime, and other care.
Fortunately, there’s an even lower-commitment option: houseplants.
Houseplants can actually help you regain a sense of control over uncontrollable life events (such as long periods of isolation). As it turns out, there are some scientific reasons for this. First, when you watch plants grow, it gives you a better sense of time passing. When every day feels exactly the same, this is an easy way to reassure yourself that time is, in fact, moving along.
Secondly, caring for a plant forces you to adopt a little bit of a routine of watering and ensuring the plant is growing properly. If you don’t have a routine, a houseplant or two may be able to help you establish one.
Thirdly, caring for something else can be a great way to introduce mindfulness to your daily routine. An indoor houseplant is entirely dependent on you for care. This can help you pay attention to its needs, and in turn the environment and surroundings you’re in.
Finally, the act of caring for a plant can give you a sense of purpose. This is because, as mentioned above, a houseplant depends on you for care.
It’s okay if you don’t consider yourself a “green thumb.” There are plenty of hardy plants that can survive in challenging conditions. Pothos, snake plants, and spider plants are all hardy and don’t require to thrive. (Even better is that these are relatively inexpensive plants.) Consider bringing a plant home next time you’re out, and start sowing the benefits!