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!
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
Today I wanted to share the lovely bread art I came across online. It shows a fun way to put plant art in food and play for the sake of play. It also offers a new idea for getting some stress releaf. With chives, basil, peppers, onions, olives, and all else, you can use plants to create a beautiful bouquet of flowers in focaccia bread. It’s almost too pretty to eat!
The trend began with Vineyard Baker on Instagram, who as she says puts the art in artisan bread. She has several great ideas for plant art in food, including dessert breads, which use fruit and nuts. Afterward, Elizabeth at Sugar Geek Show showed us a great basic recipe for baking a bouquet into bread. Apparently, it’s fairly easy. You stretch your focaccia bread into the edges of a sheet pan so it makes a rectangular canvas, then let it rise, then decorate and bake. I love it!
I haven’t tried it yet but I’d like to. I imagine you could use certain vegetables, herbs, and spices if you want more of an Italian flavor, Mexi flavor, Middle Eastern, etc. I might experiment with my daughter this weekend. If you try it, let me know. I love it when people get creative with plants!
Today I hit a wall. It’s still rainy and cold in Seattle and I couldn’t deal with the gloom. Do you ever get that trapped feeling at this time of year? You feel like spring should be coming but it isn’t quite. So I started just flat out daydreaming of blue skies and warm sun, what my mood would be like right now if I were on a tropical beach. Who am I kidding, my mood would be awesome. Then I realized I did have those blue skies and sun just six months ago. I still couldn’t move about but I was able to relax on my patio chair. The memories of summer make winter fade for a little while.
What does this have to do with plants? Well, my summer’s are always jammed with gardening fun. I’m in nature nearly every day. I love the free feeling I get being outside in a T-shirt and sandals, sharing a moment with a passing bee that lands on a flower in bloom. It’s heaven. Even at home during this sad pandemic, it’s heaven.
Plant Photos Help Relive the Dream
So seeing how these images give me a bit of stress releaf, I thought I’d share them. My memories of summer might help you through the winter blahs too.
In his book, The Nature Principle, journalist Richard Louv brilliantly explores the restorative powers of the natural world. It’s a great compendium of the physical and psychological benefits of being in nature. In addition to compelling research, Louv uses interesting anecdotal evidence and his own personal experiences to lay out how much healthier and happier we can be when we spend time in green places. It’s a thoughtful, tenderly written, optimistically envisioned portrait of our society today.
Last Child in the Woods
Years ago, Louv sort of exploded on the scene when he released his now bestseller Last Child in the Woods. In that book, he outlined how our indoor lifestyle has deprived children of the active healthy connection with nature they need to fully develop. They often suffer from what he calls Nature-deficit Disorder. In The Nature Principle, he examines how adults suffer from it as well.
Here are the main questions The Nature Principle asks:
What would our lives be like if our days and nights were as immersed in nature as they are in technology?
How can each of us help create that life-enhancing world, not only in a hypothetical future, but right now, for our families and for ourselves?
I can’t recommend this book enough. While it doesn’t shy away from our modern day problems, it will also convince you that all is not lost. They’re are a lot of great people doing wonderful work as it relates to nature and healing. In fact, like me, you may find the book downright inspiring.