Just a quick post to let you know I’ve made and put online the Leaf Your Troubles workbook! This is a 25-page companion booklet of worksheets that dovetail with the exercises in my book, Leaf Your Troubles Behind: How to Destress and Grow Happiness Through Plants.
What’s In There
It’s a pretty simple format. I included Escape to Nature journal pages focusing on the Time Log exercises and Green Personality exploration. It also features a sample Stress Bramble you can add to along with daily Green Leisure worksheets.
I round out the last section with lists of recommended plants, maybe the funnest part! I’m sharing my favorite easy shrubs for most U.S. gardens, easy-to-grow houseplants that are safe for dogs and cats, and plants that propagate simply through cutting or dividing. Plus, good plants for a rain garden!
Speaking of rain gardens, I also include extra activities on getting more greenery in your life, both indoors and out. And so I added basic instructions on installing a community rain garden. Also, a quickie recipe for mint ice cubes that go with the cocktail recipe at the back of the Leaf Your Troubles book.
How Do I Get It?
What I like most of about this format is because it’s a PDF you’ll download on your own computer, you can print multiple pages of whatever page you like. If you want to do more than one Stress Bramble, you can just print two or three copies. If you like the journal worksheets, you can print as many as you like. And you can even print and share the recommended plant lists if you want to as well.
To get your free workbook, click here. Thanks for the support. And don’t forget to rest your attention on something green today!
To buy Leaf Your Troubles Behind, click here for Amazon,
or here for Barnes and Noble,
here for Kobo,
or find it at your local bookstore.
Just a quick note to share that the first box of Leaf Your Troubles Behind landed on my doorstep last week. What a delight! The book looks just as wonderful as I’d hoped with a beautiful layout and illustrations by Kara Fellows. And most importantly, it’s packed with stories, research, and activities about how plants can boost our mental health. I can’t wait to share it with you!
To celebrate, I’m giving away copies as early as this weekend. I’ll give newsletter subscribers the first chance with the most free copies so if you haven’t subscribed to my digest, subscribe now. Then in later July, I’ll give away a couple more copies via Goodreads. If you follow me there, you should see the giveaway offer when it happens.
I’m so excited to share with you what I’ve learned about how plants can boost our happiness. For real. They do it in so many ways and the latest research is amazing. Also what’s great is plants aren’t commercial or political or even civilized. They’re just outside doing their thing, inviting us to rediscover our earliest home and relax within their realm. They’re key to lowering anxiety, depression, angst, worry, and all else. And the best news? You don’t have to garden to gain all the benefits!
I’ve created a simple system to help people dial into happiness via the natural world. And I’ll be blogging about that system in coming weeks. I’ll also put up the additional worksheets and resources that act as a companion to the book on this website in coming days. There’s so much exciting stuff, I can barely keep track!
Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend. It’s summer and hopefully not too hot where you are. Don’t forget to get outside and get some nature therapy!
Have you ever worked in a boring, windowless office whose gray cubicle walls are the only thing you see all day? I certainly have. I once worked in an office where the most colorful image my eyes landed on was a phone extensions sheet tacked on a bulletin board. Pink and blue colors highlighted the various departments. That was it. It’s not uncommon in the modern world for offices to be enclosed environments without a window view of trees or greenery. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you don’t have a view of greenery in your office, you can make one with these three things.
1. Faux natural light.
If you can’t get sunlight or even daylight into your space, you can recreate it with a plant grow bulb. You don’t need an expensive set up of industry-grade lights. You can buy a $20 dollar desk lamp from a discount store and put an $8 full-spectrum bulb inside it. Or, for about $15, you can get a clip-on, full spectrum wand lamp. This will beam blue and ultraviolet light onto the plants, similar to the sun’s rays, thus keeping you and your plant in a cheery mood. The main thing to remember is to keep it about 10 inches or more above the plant. Otherwise, you risk scorching the leaves.
2. A plant or plants.
What do we see when we look outside? Well, that depends on where you live, but it’s often three levels of greenery. Usually we see the ground, some bushes, and trees. So as a stand-in for the ground, a grass-like plant like Spider Plant or Japanese Sedge works well. For the mounded look of shrubs, choose a Pothos or Peacock Plant. For the upright structure of a tree, add a Snake Plant or Rubber Tree. These all can take the lower intensity indoor light you’ll create with a lamp.
3. A frame.
This is optional. And you have a few choices here. You can buy a wall-mounted or tabletop “grow frame” online, which will have a full-spectrum light built into the upper board and shine on the plants. This is nice as it’s naturally self-contained, but it’s crazy expensive. Or you can build one out of wood and a pre-made picture frame. This is less expensive but requires a bit of know-how. Lastly, you can buy an IKEA Besta frame and leave off the back panel, then arrange your plants inside with the grow light shining on the plants from behind. This might be the easiest option.
Your Look and Style
The look and feel of your green view is only limited by your imagination. You can create a desert-like landscape with succulents and gravel topped pots. Or more of a rainforest look with big-leafed plants. You can try a Northwest forest with moss, sword ferns, and Norfolk Island Pine. All of these looks are a bit trickier as they require higher and lower degrees of light, humidity, and water, which you’ll have to research and apply to your space.
If you feel excited about a particular kind of green view, don’t be afraid to go for it. Experiment. We all make mistakes. That’s how we learn. Just remember to make sure all of your materials and plants are to scale with one another. You don’t want to buy a tall Snake Plant in a five-gallon pot before realizing it won’t fit in your 20” grow frame. And you don’t want a low-light, water-loving Alocasia paired with a sun-loving, low-water Aloe. If you’re a beginner and you’d like a simple arrangement where the plants match in their conditions and are easy-to-grow, go with my plant recommendations in Number 2 above. Remember, the time and money you put into this will give you ten times the reward in relaxation and stress releaf. So have fun!
In my article about why plants make us happier, I talked about how we’re innately connected to them through our evolutionary history as well as physiological make up. But though our minds and bodies work in concert with plants, we often forget about how powerful they are in lowering our stress. We get busy indoors with stuff we have to do! So if we remind ourselves to engage with the green world on a daily basis, we’ll gain the benefits of calming our nervous system, restoring our attention, and literally strengthening our bodies. And research shows that only a few minutes of greenery is oftentimes all we need to lower stress.
But we all work and do errands and raise kids and all else. Who has the time, right? Well, here are some quick, little ways to lower stress through plants.
- Take a ten minute walk and count the trees on the street as you go. This will force your eyes to focus on their healing fractal patterns.
- Eat lunch on a bench by plants. Instead of eating at your desk or take-out restaurant, find a park or courtyard where your eyes rest on plants.
- Keep a plant on your desk at the office. Some plants can survive with only fluorescent lighting. Here are 5 easy house plants to grow.
- Set the screensaver on your computer to a forest. Whenever you return to your desk, you’ll see a few moments of a restful sanctuary.
- Look up and notice how the trees soften the sky as you walk from your car, the bus, or subway to your house. Take a deep breath at the sight.
- Grow a plant on the windowsill above your sink. Whenever you wash the dishes, you’ll spend a few minutes zoning out on pretty green leaves.
- Hang a photo or drawing of a scene with plants. If your taste is antique, use a classic bouquet painting, if your taste is modern, try a leaf portrait.
- Put a house plant on your nightstand (that is, if a window’s nearby). This way, the first thing you’ll see in the morning is calming leaves.
- Decorate your table with a cut greenery centerpiece. While you’re eating meals, your eyes will feast on the various green shapes and hues.
- Gently wipe a house plant’s leaves with a wet cloth. Five minutes of petting a green friend will lower your heart rate and tidy up your room.
So this week, if you can, take a little greenery break, whether inside our outside. Schedule it into your lunch hour or afternoon snack time. See it as a window of renewal your mind and body both need, like exercise or sleep. Afterward, you’ll feel refreshed and a bit more ready to take on the stress of the day.
This week, try taking a greenery break for five days and let me know if you were able to make it a habit! In the next post, I’ll share what I do during mine.
European researchers recently conducted a survey of 323 Bulgarian students to learn whether seeing greenery in or near their home helped them avoid sadness and depression during Covid. Though it was a study where subjects self-reported symptoms, they found some interesting answers about greenery and depression.
One Dose of a Leafy View
They discovered that when subjects could see an abundance of greenery, either from their home or in their neighborhood, they reported lower depression and anxiety rates. Also, to a lesser extent, subjects who tended houseplants indoors or cared for a garden outside also had lower rates of depression and anxiety. Oftentimes, people explained that the greenery made them feel like they were “away” while at home. Perhaps, even like a mini green vacation. Neighborhood greenery also facilitated social support and more frequent engagement with the greenery. And that, in turn, also led to better mental health.
A Vacation in my Backyard
This totally mirrors my own experience during the Covid lockdown. As I’ve told more than one friend, during summer when I went deep into my backyard, like all the way down to my back fence, and worked in the garden, I felt removed from daily life. I felt far away from the pandemic and its limitations. Far away from the pain and sadness. As I focused on the plants, my mind settled. It quieted. By the time I finished, I felt restored and happy, as if I’d gotten away from it all. The effect was like a relaxing mini vacation during one afternoon.
The good news is spring is coming. We’ll be able to get into more outdoor greenery soon. What’s more, vaccinations are on the way. Being vaccinated will give us even more choices in enjoying outdoor greenery: parks, woods, outdoor barbecues, picnics. I hope you’ll make some time to take your own mini green vacation this spring!
Photo by Raychan.