Apartment Living Chronicles Part 1
If you are feeling a bit blue this winter, with the short days and covid wreaking havoc in our lives, then you are certainly not alone. Never before has our home environment been so critical to our mental health, so here are some sure-fire ways to beat the blues with nature’s most healing and regenerative organism - plants.
Constantly seeing and being around plants has been proven in a multitude of studies to help people feel calmer and more relaxed, thus decreasing levels of anxiety. Having plants in our lives also helps improve memory and attention span by 20 percent and can increase concentration. Other benefits include reducing depression and increasing creativity, self-esteem and overall quality of life, so there is every reason to invest in some plants for your home. And on top of this that they produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, which is all the more important in winter and lockdown when we are spending so much time indoors.
Specifically, researchers have found that people who surround themselves with plant life and other forms of natural beauty, both indoors and out, experience emotional and mental health benefits that have a positive impact on their social, psychological, physical, cognitive, environmental, and spiritual well-being.
Balconies are the more obvious places to introduce plants into our apartment, but don’t neglect to have them indoors also. There are so many varieties that thrive inside and many that are far easier to keep happy than even the least green thumbed of us might think. Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Devil’s Ivy are great plants to start with, as are Zanzibar Gem, Dragon Tree, Maidenhair Fern, Zebra Plant, Lucky Bamboo, Boston Fern, Long-leaf Fig and indoor varieties of Succulent.
Gorgeous indoor flowering plants include Orchid, Cyclamen, Flamingo Lily, African Violet and Peace Lily. Larger plants can serve as dramatic sculptural statements. Banana trees, Fiddle-leaf Fig, Rubber Plant, Lady Palm, Monstera Deliciosa, Olive Tree, Chinese Fan Palm, Cornstalk Dracaena, Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Date Palm and Weeping Fig are all striking varieties to have inside our homes.
And simply buying yourself fresh flowers – not just for family and friends - brings seasonal joy and colour into your home and supports your local florist. Many bunches of flowers will last for a week, so ask your florist which varieties will last the longest and spoil yourself. If the florist doesn’t provide a little sachet of flower food, you can easily make your own by adding a good squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of bleach to the water in your vase.
But don’t just limit your plant interactions when only at home, find your nearest park and set up a walking regime there and back each day, whenever possible. Not only will this help clear your head and give you a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sunlight, being around trees boosts our wellbeing, encourages socialisation and even makes us kinder! And exciting new research suggests that trees can boost our immunity due to the oxygen and aromatic compounds they release. So don’t delay, lift your mood and improve your health and wellbeing by making plants and trees your new best friends.