• Daily Stress ReLeaf,  Plants & Happiness

    #20 Three Ways to Lower Stress With Plants This Weekend

    Paris Park in Spring, Three Quick Ways to Lower Stress With Plants This Weekend, Daily Stress ReLeaf, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2021/03/05/ways-to-lower-stress-with-plants/, #dailystressreleaf #relaxation #destressing #waystolowerstresswithplants #outside #eucalyptus #springtimeactivity #spring

    You might not think you have time to lower your stress because you have too much to do. But even busy people, especially moms, deserve a few minutes off from their hectic schedule.

    1. Get Outside for 10 Minutes

    The first of these ways to lower stress with plants is right outside your door. You might have snow on the ground where you live but it’s still worth sharing a brief moment with nature. Sometimes when I let the dog out, I take a minute to inhale the fresh smell of wet soil. I see the bright cloudy sky. I feel the cool rain on my face. So if you need to let your dog outside, take a few minutes, to hang around. Better yet, go for a walk in your local park. Do the trees have any leaves yet? Are the branches waving in the wind? How do the clouds move? Are they hanging or breaking up for bits of blue sky? Remember to breathe it all in. Even 10 minutes in an open natural space will refresh you.

    2. Bring Home Eucalyptus Stems

    Eucalyptus smells so spicy and fresh. You can probably imagine the scent right now. Supermarkets commonly sell the branches in their floral department. They range from five to ten dollars, depending on the size of the bundle. But the best thing about choosing eucalyptus over other flowers or leaves is they last. For weeks and weeks. So if you can, splurge a bit and put them in a vase of water. Then, whenever you pass by the table, rub your fingers on the leaves and smell that lovely scent. (And if you’re allergic, of course eucalyptus isn’t the best choice. ) Eucalyptus is known for its medicinal uses and a quick jolt of its minty scent will revive you as well.

    3. Plan a Springtime Activity

    Studies show that planning a vacation makes us slightly happier than when we’re actually on a vacation so dream a little about the future. What will you grow this year? Where can you go to see daffodils and tulips? How about watching a hyacinth bloom in a bulb container? Is there a botanical garden not too far away? Are there vegetable seeds you can start? Beans and peas are always easy and fun to start with kids in the house. Whatever your taste, plan a bit of fun to look forward to.


  • Daily Stress ReLeaf,  Plants & Happiness

    #15 One More Lovely Fractal Pattern Leaf For You

    Fractal Pattern Leaf, One More Lovely Fractal Pattern Leaf For You, Daily Stress ReLeaf, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2021/02/28/fractal-pattern-leaf/(opens in a new tab), #dailystressreleaf, #plants, #relaxation, #mentalhealth, #destressing, #stress, #fractalpattern

    Yesterday, in writing about why playing with plants makes us happy, I came across this lovely fractal pattern leaf. So for today’s Daily Stress ReLeaf, I thought I’d do a short post and share it. You may have learned from a previous post about why gazing at these fractal images is so healing for souls. To refresh your memory, their natural patterns fit with the way our eyes naturally scan images, making for a congruent experience that relaxes us. After all of these years as a gardener, it’s still hard for me to understand how a leaf can make itself this way. It’s so spectacular and complex and yet so usual.

    The Power of a Close Up

    I wanted to write about the image’s photographer but it came from FreePhotosArt on Pixabay. There’s not much information about the person but they seem to be Russian or in that part of the world. In addition to the fractal pattern leaf, they’ve put up photos of forests, fields, train tracks, and other dreamy images of nature. If you need photos for a blog or website, or just want to explore, check out this talented person’s work.

    I hope you have a few minutes today to take in this image’s loveliness. It will help lower your heart rate and calm you.

    Have a great day!

    Karen Hugg, sig, http://www.karenhugg.com #author #books #fiction #Paris #journal
  • Daily Stress ReLeaf,  Plants & Happiness

    #14 Five Happy Reasons to Play With Plants

    5 Happy Reasons to Play With Plants, Daily Stress Releaf, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2021/02/27/play-with-plants/(opens in a new tab), #plants #dailystressreleaf, #play, #stress, #destressing, #mentalhealth, #relaxation #happiness

    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


  • Daily Stress ReLeaf,  Plants & Happiness

    #10 A Poem Digs Deep Into Plant Love

    A Poem Digs Deep Into Plant Love, Daily Stress ReLeaf, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2021/02/23/poem-plant-love, #plants #poems #WSMerwin #palmtrees #poetry #naturalworld #destressing #stress #relaxation #mentalhealth #dailystressreleaf

    W.S. Merwin is one of my favorite poets because he’s intensely connected to the natural world. He digs deep into plant love through his words. Not only did he believe in the importance of preserving the environment, he lived for years in Hawaii, gradually restoring a palm forest on Maui. It now houses almost 3,000 palm trees. Within that collection, there are 125 different tree genera, which subdivide into 400 species and 800 varieties. Botanically speaking, that’s incredibly impressive.

    A Vision Early On

    I also admire W.S. Merwin (as well as many poets) because he understood the important relationship between our mental health and the natural world. Decades ago, he noticed what we lose as a society when we go indoors. Here’s his thoughts from the 1990s: “We go into a supermarket and we have artificial light, canned music, everything’s deodorized–we can’t touch or taste or smell anything, and we hear only what they want us to hear. No wonder everybody wanders around like zombies! Because our senses have been taken away from us for us a while. A supermarket brings the whole thing into focus. The things that are there don’t belong there, they didn’t grow there. They have a shelf life, which is being tented, so that we can buy them. It’s only about selling things. This is a very strange kind of situation, but it’s typical of our lives.”

    A Moment of Peace

    Here’s a lovely poem by Merwin about a tree. Notice how the poem travels to different places and where it ends. So simple and ephemeral. I hope it gives you a moment of peace.

    Place
    
    On the last day of the world
    I would want to plant a tree
    
    what for
    not for the fruit
    
    the tree that hears the fruit
    is not the one that was planted
    
    I want the tree that stands
    in the earth for the first time
    
    with the sun already
    going down
    
    and the water
    touching its roots
    
    in the earth full of the dead
    and the clouds passing
    
    one by one
    over its leaves

    Photo by Maria Maliy


  • Daily Stress ReLeaf,  Plants & Happiness

    #9 Changing Your Life From Broken to Broken Open

    Broken Walnut, Changing Your Life From Broken to Broken Open, Daily Stress Releaf, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2021/02/22/broken-to-broken-open, #dailystressreleaf #plants #stress #destressing #mentalhealth #inspiration #changingyourlife #transformingyourself #happiness #DavidBrooks #TedTalk

    For today’s Daily Stress Releaf, I want to talk about a profound thought I recently heard. The other day I watched David Brooks give a great Ted Talk. First, I have to say, I’m aware of his work with a social media platform where he might have had a conflict of interest (more here). But in his presentation, he talked about how intensely empty he felt after he’d gotten divorced. He said he’d fallen for the lies that our culture tells us: career success is fulfilling, that he could make himself happier with external results, that you are what you accomplish. We often believe that people who achieve more than others are actually better than others. So he found himself stuck in this valley of disconnection. He realized then, as he said, “When you have one of those bad moments in life, you can either be broken or you can be broken open.”

    Our Souls Are Like a Hard Nut From a Tree

    I love this metaphor. Of course, the first thing I related this to was a nut from a tree. In particular, a walnut, one of the hardest nuts to crack. I thought about how hard the shell is, how wonderful the seed inside. The shell protects the seed from the elements until it’s time to drop and break open. Afterward, the seed has all it needs to start creating a whole other tree. A new tree! And with a new tree comes a new life. Of course, with a new life comes rebirth and hope.

    But if the nut is smashed to pieces, the seed might be rendered unviable. That seems the saddest of all outcomes. All that great growth and potential lost. In Brooks’s talk, he used the idea of being broken versus broken open to highlight how people descend into depression and anger. “We all know people who are broken,” he said. “They’ve endured some pain or grief. They get smaller. They get angrier, resentful, they lash out as the saying is ‘Pain that is not transformed gets transmitted.'”

    How Can We Go From Broken to Broken Open?

    He also talked about how some people take their misfortune, their pain, and transform it. If you can ‘suffer your way to wisdom,’ you can transform. He says to get in touch with your heart. Let your ego crumble. Then get in touch with your spiritual self, your soul. But the key is not to think you can do it alone. It’s integral to connect with other people. You need the others who can reach down and help you out of the valley of disconnection.

    I recognize of course that this is so difficult in early 2021. We’re still hampered by the pandemic. Believe me, I understand. I’ve lost loved ones during this time and will soon lose another one. Some days are profoundly sad for me. I feel too broken to break open. It’s difficult to keep one’s chin up. But I hope you will hang in there. See the suffering through. Spring and vaccinations and a more social life are right around the corner. We have a lot to be hopeful about. I try to keep this in mind.

    A Country That Can Heal

    Brooks’s last thought was that we are having a national mental health crisis. So many of us, as the statistics show, are in pain. Our divided politics reflects that. So as an entire society, we need to recover. To help with that, he founded a project called Weave, which aims to connect people in communities. They want to shift people’s mindsets from one of individual achievement to one that finds reward in deep relationships and community success. You might want to check them out.

    Until then, I hope you will not let yourself be broken, but choose to break open and grow a better day tomorrow.

    Karen Hugg, sig, http://www.karenhugg.com #author #books #fiction #Paris #journal

    Photo by Wouter Supardi Salari