Start Your Own Mental Health Garden
Cultivate Your Own Place Of Reflection And Healing With Autumn’s Arrival
Autumn is here, and with its arrival, a new season of rest and reflection. We don’t normally tend to think of autumn as a time of growth – the flashy, brilliant spring greens and yellows surrender their vibrance to more subdued, earthy hues of chestnut, burgundy, and sunset gold. This season is a time for transition, and a time when all growth tends to reside inside warm walls, establishing root systems and gathering strength. This Autumn, consider a mental health garden to help you cultivate your mental wellness.
How A Mental Health Garden Can Benefit You
Cultivating mental health is a seasonal activity. We grow, blossom, rest, and repeat over and over throughout life. In times when the weather turns colder and sunlight wanes, taking the time to care for our mental well-being can be effective in challenging anxiety, depression, seasonal affective disorder (or, SAD, which is a type of depression related to the change in seasons and sunlight), relationship difficulties, and social isolation.
Many therapists and health workers consistently praise gardening and being in nature as a way to improve mental health by reducing anxiety and stress, encouraging focused activities, and regulating periods of low moods or depression. At Garrett Counseling, we have seen the benefits nature can have on a person’s mental health through our therapy garden at our Jacksonville, Alabama location.
If you find yourself challenging depression or anxiety, or you are simply seeking ways to cultivate positive reminders at a new phase in life, consider bringing the outdoors inside with you, this autumn, and cultivate your own “mental health garden” specific to your own seasonal transitions. The houseplants listed below can be a fun starting point for you to begin your own indoor garden and add to it to reflect your own growth throughout the season!
Houseplants To Begin Your Own Mental Health Garden
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): Growing New Roots
You may find yourself in a life transition that has left you feeling a bit disconnected. Whether it’s a divorce and the dissolution of a relationship, the birth of a baby and the transition to life as a caregiver, the loss of a home or community, or simply the desire for something different that you can’t quite put into words yet, consider giving some attention to the humble pothos plant. It has a reputation for being tough (even self-proclaimed “plant killers” find this plant is a survivor). It also is incredibly easy to propagate, or, start a new plant from a previous one by snipping off a single stem, placing it in water, and allowing new roots to grow. This plant serves as a great reminder that we can face tough challenges and find ourselves in new places in life, but with the right care, we can grow new roots and thrive.
String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus): Seeking Light
Sometimes during the height of a dark season, it can be difficult to seek out the light. The positive, happy activities we previously enjoyed, can seem very far away. This can be especially difficult if you are battling depression or a period of increased stress. We can often feel overwhelmed, and very much “in the dark”. One of the fascinating features of this humble, internet-famous little plant is that it has “windows” within each and every one of its “pearl” beads… to let in light, no matter how small. Tiny, translucent lines can be found on each bead, ensuring that no matter how small it is or how dark a place it finds itself, its exterior protection still has space to seek and process light, allowing it to grow. And grow, it can! Spilling over pots in gorgeous waves, resting on tables like prayer beads, or hanging from small planters by windows, this plant is an excellent one to care for when you are working with a therapist to seek the positives in life – even through periods of darkness.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria): Allowing Yourself Time to Breathe
When NASA was looking for plants to take into space to increase oxygen levels, the simple snake plant (sometimes called “mother-in-law’s tongue”) was a winner. So often, many of us suffer from stress and anxiety, which can make it feel difficult to breathe (especially if you suffer from panic attacks). This air-purifying plant can survive and thrive in some of the toughest conditions (which is what made it a frontrunner for NASA), and in the process, it can filter out various toxins in the environment such as formaldehyde and benzene. Having a snake plant in your mental health garden can serve as a visual reminder that even in times of stress or anxiety, there are tools available to us to help us breathe easier, such as regular appointments with a licensed therapist or making time to take care of ourselves in periods of increased anxiety.
Aloe (Aloe vera): Healing After Trauma
One of the most popular houseplants on the market, aloe is a plant that has a practical application in any home: it’s soothing when you suffer from a burn or a wound. This cactus-like plant is easy to grow indoors. With moderate sunlight and infrequent watering, this air-purifying, practical plant can thrive indoors on an office shelf or table by a window, and serve as a helpful reminder that healing is possible, even after negative experiences or trauma.
Other Additions For Your Mental Health Garden
- Picture of a loved one
- A favorite small item that evokes a good feeling or a memory
- Small tray or bowl of sand and a rake
- BravePlay kit to use in times of thought or processing while you tend to your garden
Start your mental health garden with one of these suggested plants or with other plants you choose, and cultivate your growth and well-being during this beautiful, transitional season.
If you are looking for a counselor to work with during this season of your life, contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or by clicking here.
This blog was written by Morgan Osburn. Morgan is Garrett Counseling’s Director of Community Outreach. You can learn more about her by clicking here.