How Taking Care Of My Houseplants Taught Me To Take Better Care Of Myself

credit: Instagram / @volarplants

I’m a plant lady. But in making sure my botanicals have enough water, light and warmth to survive, I realized that I, too, needed similar care in order to thrive.

A year ago, I was diagnosed with situational depression. At the time, I had been recently fired under very retaliatory and discriminatory circumstances from a job I held at a toxic tech startup. As a self-identified overachiever, I was trying to make sense of what had happened. What did I do wrong? Why did I find myself in this position for simply advocating for myself? How could this have happened to me, I’d ask myself. I’m a resilient person, but this time I couldn’t muster the energy to get back up.

This phase of my life led me on a messy but necessary path toward healing. I didn’t realize how heavy the bags that I had been lugging around had become. I never fully paused to give myself space to heal from past traumas or work through negative self-talk in a healthy way. I continuously found myself wasting my energy in environments that were no longer serving me, with my bags functioning as Russian nesting dolls of years of unresolved trauma. Soon, it got too heavy.

A girl with many plants (&plans)

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During my darkest days of trying to cope with my depression, I found solace in therapy and, surprisingly, my house plants. The latter gave me something to look forward to. I loved seeing each new budding leaf unfurl, and I enjoyed watching the way the light in my home illuminated the variations of green in all of my little plant friends. Being surrounded by plants reminded me that life goes on, growth is a process and love and light breeds kindness in oneself. I gradually began to realize that by taking care of my flora, I was starting to take better care of myself.

Establishing a plant care routine helped me prioritize my own wellness and self-care. It can teach you a lot about healing and growing. Here, five essential tips for taking care of your plants — and yourself.

1. Stay Hydrated

When your plants’ leaves start to look crinkled or the soil is stiff, it’s usually time for some agua. Make sure your plant isn’t sitting in old water, and give it a chance to properly drain. Similarly, when your skin starts to look dry and your body feels sluggish, try gulping down some H2O.

2. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Ask yourself, would you talk to your plants the way you talk to yourself? I sometimes tell my plantas the affirmations I need to hear, and it really helps to listen to them aloud.

3. Establish A Routine

My plants are at their best when I keep them on a watering schedule, and it turns out that I’m also my finest when I maintain a self-care routine. It usually consists of showering regularly, sitting in silence away from technology for at least 10 minutes every day, being patient with my mood swings, burning sage, eating mostly healthy and consistent meals, getting a good night’s rest, exercising, playing with my dog and laughing. Taking care of my plants is part of my daily routine. I always say hi, checking in on each plant’s growth, and remove any dead leafs. It takes a lot of trial and error, but stay committed to your improvement and you’ll find the routine that works for your needs.

4. Get Sunlight

If you live in a low light space, try moving your plants around a few times out of the week to get some sunshine. If you can, let the sun kiss your own beautiful face as well.

5. Go Out For Fresh Air

It's a match! #naturalbeauty

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Every Saturday, when I water my plants, I like to put them outside. Similarly, when I’m feeling the most stressed and anxious, I go for a walk.

6. Find A Space To Grow

As plant roots grow, they need to be repotted — and it’s the same for us. This is a reminder that some environments and spaces aren’t permanent. When we outgrow what no longer serves us, it’s OK to lay our roots in places that allows us to thrive.

We have more in common with our houseplants than we may realize. Much like our greenery, we all grow at different paces. Sometimes a leaf will slowly wilt and fall off, reminding me that we’re all part of a beautiful natural cycle. Growth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the care and work that we put into the process that enables our growth.

Read: These Latinas Will Give You The Mental Health Boost You Need

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