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Can plants help break bad habits?

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Publisher: Bloombox Club
Bloombox Club

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health psychology wellbeing

When we’re stressed or tired, we're likely to reach for things that will bring us immediate relief – whether that’s chocolate, alcohol, social media scrolling etc. While this response is normal, immediate fixes also tend to be short lived and addictive: they don’t placate bad feelings but create desire for more of whatever it was that brought us relief.  

Bloombox Club believes in the power of plants to boost wellbeing and help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. We know that buying and receiving items online gives us an immediate pleasure response – in fact retail therapy is advised as a distraction technique for those giving up smoking.

But unlike ordering 3 dresses from your favourite fast fashion brand, plants can help us maintain a more consistent defence against poor mental health, long after the initial buzz has worn off.   

Maintaining a healthy head long-term means moving away from the spikes of frontal-cortex pleasure (and sudden dips that follow) and striving to remain in between these states as much as possible.

It is inevitable (and good) that we will experience a full range of emotional states. Building an active relationship with nature won’t work like a quick-fix-vice or a course of SSRIs. The effects of plant care on our mental health are dependent on how much we put in.

Dr. Katie Cooper, founder of Bloombox Club, is a strong advocate for the idea that practicing plant care can teach us to take care of ourselves. It is a long, slow and steady process. To be good plant parents, we need to monitor our green friends: testing their soil with our fingers, pulling apart their leaves, checking for discolouration. And respond according to what we see – whether that’s moving the plant to a more consistent environment, reducing watering or giving it a good misting.

Plant care translates into self-care when we start applying these same principles to ourselves – a process that can occur consciously or unconsciously. It can teach us that we are deserving of care and nourishment, and encourage us to be kinder to ourselves. This could mean reaching for nourishing food when we’re stressed, and taking some time out to decompress after a busy day. Conversely, it can mean not holding onto guilt or beating yourself up when you do turn to a quick fix. 

At its core, says clinical psychologist Agnes Wainman, self-care is ‘something that refuels us, rather than takes things away.’

The Bloombox Club team are trying this out for ourselves this year. We have each chosen a plant to focus on and nurture, in the hope that it will help each of us be more compassionate to ourselves - and give us an abundant plant collection!

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