Today I was thinking about why to play with plants. It seems frivolous and like not something that matters whether we do or don’t. But play offers a host of benefits and since plants can relax us, playing with plants can create a special kind of fun happiness. Here are five healing benefits of play according to play therapist and researcher Charles Schaeffer.
Play elevates the spirit
Because the goals you pursue when you play are ultimately non-consequential, it takes the pressure off. So, when we play, we feel energized rather than sapped of energy. Fiddling with houseplants or gardening or even tossing a ball amidst trees combines the visually relaxing benefits of plants with the lighthearted euphoria that play offers. A great combination.
Play begets optimism
During play we sometimes win or accomplish a little goal, which can be a pleasant surprise, but when we lose or fail at whatever we’re doing, we’re usually not too upset because the goals aren’t consequential. That’s the theory anyway. So because the pressure’s off, we’re more likely to maintain a relaxed feeling that everything will be okay. Plants are similar. If you care for just one plant successfully, you’ll feel more positive about yourself and perhaps ready to take on another.
Play teaches new skills
When we play, we often develop a skill without really trying. Take for instance, guitar. I love playing around on the guitar, figuring out new melodies while also practicing chords and the songs I love. There’s really no pressure. Applied to plants, you’ll learn more about how to best care for them by reading up on what conditions they like and experimenting with what to do from day to day. If you can maintain that feeling of fun for the sake of fun, you’ll get better at horticulture while hardly noticing.
Play betters our physical health
Not only does play provide a sense of optimism and elevate the spirit, if done as a physical activity, it can get us in better shape. We all know that playing a game of tennis will circulate our blood, strengthen the heart, and release the happy drug of endorphins. So, playing physically with plants can do the same thing. And by that, I mean gardening in your backyard or hiking in the woods or even riding a stationary bike while watching a houseplant video. It all adds up to better bodily health.
Play connects us to others
When we play with others, we see each other for our best, most lighthearted selves. We also monitor our feelings as well as other people’s feelings. It’s excellent practice in social interaction. Plus, we don’t feel so alone and make wonderful shared memories. Our family has played a lot of badminton and has shared memories around that. But you don’t need a yard. If you can get into nature and stroll with a friend or toss a ball around in a park, you’ll take in those fractal patterns while building better relationships.
Do you ever play with plants? If so, let me know how in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas.
Photo by Khamkhor