Loneliness is an all too common feeling experienced by a staggering number of people. According to the Social Isolation and Loneliness report created by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in three Australians reported an episode of loneliness between 2001 and 2009, with 40% experiencing more than one episode.
That data was collected long before the COVID-19 pandemic, so taking into account the social isolation measures taken to slow the spread of the virus, that loneliness figure must certainly be higher this year.
So, if you’re feeling lonely (or have experienced loneliness in the past) it might be time to invest in some greenery. Indoors plants are definitely en vogue at the moment and the homes of Instagram influencers are filled to the brim with plant life.
While indoor plants undoubtedly look lovely and add a certain visual aesthetic to a space, plants also have great effects on your health and wellbeing. As Greatist points out, there has been much research around the positive benefits of plant life on humans including improved concentration and productivity when working and calming effects.
Plants are also known to increase oxygen in the air and are said to help relieve stress. In fact, a medical practice in the United Kingdom has previously provided patients suffering from anxiety and depression with herbs, veggies and a potted plant to care for.
The prescription is to care for the greenery and once all are thriving, bring the flora back to the medical office in order to plant them into a communal garden, which in turn allows the patients to connect with others through gardening. How good!
“Having something to care for brings so many benefits to people — especially for those who may not have a garden or be able to have pets,” Augusta Ward, a medical secretary at the practice, told Metro. “The plant is then a reason to come back to the surgery and get involved in all the other activities in our garden and make new friends.”
Taking in a walk in green spaces or investing in some plant life is unbelievably good for your health and has been “has been shown to scientifically heal our brains,” Amanda Stemen, a licensed therapist and social worker, told Greatist. “That’s why we feel better after spending time outdoors.”
According to Stemen, plants can really play a role in combatting loneliness as it gives you something to care for. Plus, having a fresh lifeform surrounding you, which requires your interest and attention, can bring purpose, and can even remind the carer to look after themselves as they would their plants.
“When we spend time around plants, we feel more deeply connected to ourselves, others, and something greater, which is necessary to combat loneliness,” she said.
While investing in plants won’t cure loneliness, becoming a plant parent may bring you joy that outweighs some of the lonely feelings. If you’re new to the world of horticulture, check out the top 10 most-Googled indoor plants of 2020 for a little inspiration.