Planty Resolutions for Cultivating a Healthy Life

Planty Resolutions for Cultivating a Healthy Life

It’s everywhere. “Happy New Year” wishes, Word of the year posts, new diet and exercise routines, and trashing the idea of setting resolutions. Maybe you came into the new year starry-eyed at the potential before you. That’s beautiful! Hold on to that wonder as long as you can!

But maybe you’re feeling more cynical than that. Discouraged, depressed or anxious. Maybe, instead of feeling filled with optimism, you’re glad you survived the holidays. I’m coming into January from a hard season. The last six months have been difficult and I’m not sure it’s over yet.

No matter how you’re feeling about it, this infant of a calendar year actually holds tremendous potential. Potential for being deeply rooted, for growth, for transformation, and for bloom. I’m certainly talking about that potential for your plants. But also for you.

What if, instead of resolutions or words or goals, you focused your energy this year on cultivating your plant hobby, and in doing so, nurture your own healthy life?

There are many ways that your love of plants can contribute to your own health. They’re not going to eat more veggies or get better sleep for you, but there are many ways your love of houseplants can grow your mental and emotional health. Keep reading for 13 ideas, but this is only a start! Feel free to create your own plant-centric healthy habits!

Be Present

It’s really easy to go through the motions of your plant routines without thinking much about it. Maybe your mind’s on your next meeting, your kid’s struggle at school, or how you’re going to pay your water bill this month! Your plants are beautiful and deserve your attention!

Cultivate a habit of paying attention to them while you’re watering them. Are there new leaves? Check for pests. How does the light look as it falls on the plant. What colors do you notice?

As you practice noticing small details of your plants, not only will you be able to better care for them, you’ll grow a practice of being present in your life and noticing the details around you. That has a great mental health benefit, but also can really strengthen relationships if you apply it with positivity.

Grow Your Curiosity

Maybe you’d love to go deeper in this hobby and don’t know where to start. Choosing one plant that you own, or want to own, and learning all you can about it will deepen your understanding of what that plant needs. You can look up where it originates from and what conditions it grows in there. When was it cultivated? How does it grow and reproduce? What home conditions are best? Ask and answer all the questions you can think of. Once you’re well-versed in that plant, start digging into another one.

Learning more about the plants in your collection will feed your curiosity about all growing things and can easily spill out into other areas of your life. Curiosity is often listed as one of the most important characteristics contributing to personal success, no matter how you define it.

express yourself quote

Express Your Unique Self

My home needs some work! This year, one of the things I want to do is make my home a beautiful place that feeds my soul and helps me thrive. Of course, plants can play a key role in that process! Are there DIY projects you’ve had your eye on for years? Are there plant corners begging for a new chair or pillow? What does your space need that your plants can provide? Think about how your plants can work with your decor to create a lovely oasis.

Whether your space needs a complete redesign, thinking about it through the lens of what you, your family, and your plants need to thrive will help you see your environment as a tool for your own wellbeing. It doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s space. It shouldn’t! You’re unique! You don’t need to win Instagram with it. It just needs to express your personality and fill your needs.

Practice expressing your unique plant-loving self will help you wean away from the internet-approval trap we so easily slip into, whether we’re talking about our jungle spaces or any other thing we compare ourselves to online.

Create Change Step-by-Step

We often think we need to do big things. We lean toward big goals, big projects, or in plant terms, grow big plants, create large plant walls, or fill every room so full of plants that there’s no room for furniture. I’m not disrespecting that. Go big!

But it’s not the only way. Maybe your partner, your budget, your space, or your preferences won’t allow for that. Instead, create small vignettes in your space. Make pockets of greenery, one by one.

How can you arrange a 12” x 12” space on a shelf to be beautiful and life-giving whenever you look at it? How can you rearrange a corner with plants, a comfy chair, a light, and a side table to be the perfect spot for a cup of tea and a good book?

Looking for ways to make small changes is a great practice in reminding ourselves that small changes can have a big impact. They can encourage us to make small step-by-step changes in all areas of our lives.

Buy With Intention

What if you added a resolution to your list to own more plants? I’ll bet that one would be easy to keep! I’m guessing that will happen without any need for a resolution! What if we cultivated the habit of buying with intention? I’ve been buying based on beautiful plants I see on Facebook group purges lately. And, while I’ve gotten some great deals and some beautiful plants, I’m not buying with intention. I’m not thinking enough about the space or the light I have, or the fully-grown size of the plant.

You could even go so far as to give yourself a “plant budget” of one plant each month (or whatever works for you!). Begin to dream and think about the plants that would thrive in your space. Making intentional purchases will grow your collection with plants best suited for your environment. Maybe, just maybe, this habit of intentional purchases would spill over into other things you buy with less thought than you should, clothes, kitchen gadgets, Starbucks, art supplies, or wine for example.

Planty Green Resolutions - Grow Happy Gifts

Remember the Journey

Remember when your huge Monstera was just a single node? Remember what it looked like when you first potted it up with a moss pole? No? One way to enjoy your plants when you’re not caring for them is documenting their growth journey.

There are a lot of different ways to do this (hint - watch for an in-depth post on this next month). Use your camera, a pen and paper, a sketch pad, a plant-specific journal, or a digital notebook. Record what they look like each month. Keep track of pest infestations and how you eradicated them. Draw your favorite leaves. Keep a note of where you purchased them, how much they cost, and what sized pot they’re in.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Make it as complicated or as simple as you like. The goal is not to follow a set of rules, but to simply record information that you’ll enjoy or find useful in the future.

After you’ve recorded the information you want to keep track of (whether it’s one photo of a particular plant group each month or a detailed observation list of every plant in your collection) reflect on what you’ve saved. What’s interesting about it? What do you learn? How does it impact you moving forward?

Observation and reflection are important life skills. As you practice them with your plants, you will find them helpful in other areas as well!

Make New Friends

Even though caring for plants is an at-home event, perfect for introverts, you can use your love of plants to grow your social circles. It’s always easier to make a new friend when you have something in common to talk about. So, make an effort to meet one new plant person each month. How?

Check into local meet-ups, nursery sponsored events, home and garden shows, plant store get-togethers, or simply at the rescue bin of your local big-box store Strike up conversations with anyone else interested in the plants you’re looking at, whether it’s a plant store salesperson or another plant buyer.

You never know what friendship will bloom! And growing your social network is great for your emotional health.

Make New Friends, Part 2

One of the really beautiful things about the internet is our ability to connect with people all over the globe. What kinds of houseplants are popular in other countries? How does their culture do indoor gardening differently? What are their favorite tools and supplies? How can you find out and expand your understanding of other cultures at the same time?

Begin to reach out to people in Facebook groups, on Instagram or TikTok. Ask questions. Develop relationships. Don’t rush. Be genuine. You may find a wealth of knowledge and great friends across the globe.

Of course, not everyone is an awesome human being, and not everyone is interested in friendship, But loneliness is a worldwide epidemic and plant people love to talk plants. Be smart about it, but grow your relationship skills online and you’ll be surprised at how much joy it can bring both you and others!

Practice Mindfulness

When we talked about noticing, we touched on this aspect, but the topic is broader than noticing. Your plant care routine can be full of ways to practice mindfulness and ground your attention in the present moment. Here are three more ways that your plant care routine lends itself to mindfulness practices.

Breathing: Synchronize your breathing with your movements as you perform routine plant care, like watering. How many long, slow breaths does it take to water your largest plant? Or, practice a deep inhale as you approach a plant and a deep exhale as you leave.

Patience and Acceptance: Plants grow at their own pace, and not all of them will thrive immediately. Your plant may go into a period of dormancy. It may be unhappy where it’s located. It may need time to acclimate after you’ve moved it. Practicing mindfulness involves cultivating patience and acceptance. Embrace the gradual growth of your plants, and learn to accept imperfections. Not surprisingly, this is good practice for accepting other things in life with less judgement.

Connect with Nature: Caring for houseplants connects you with nature. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your plants, the variations in their colors and shapes. Touch the leaves and soil, and acknowledge the life of the plant. This connection fosters a sense of gratitude and mindfulness about the interconnectedness of all living things. And the sensory input helps bring your attention to the present moment.

Let Go

We prune plants for a number of reasons. As leaves that are older and no longer valuable to the plant die off, we remove them. We sometimes trim unsightly leaves. We prune to change the shape or growth habit of a plant we care about. We do this because we care about a plant and want it to thrive beautifully.

As you prune your plants and remove dead leaves, consider what in your life needs to be pruned? What do you need to let go of? Sometimes those relationships, habits, or schedules need to change, but we aren’t aware of it or we just don’t want to deal with it.

Using the time you prune your plants to reflect on what you may need to prune reinforces the habit of reflection I mentioned earlier. As you practice pruning your plants and they thrive under your care, you may find yourself more willing to prune your own life.

Celebrate Growth

Watching your houseplants unfurl a new leaf is exciting. It’s so much fun! I suspect it’s a bit less fun for the plant doing all the work. We eagerly anticipate and cheer on the new growth as it’s happening, both in private and in public (unfurling time-lapses anyone?)

I encourage you to apply the same anticipation and celebration to the milestones and growth you yourself experience. Watch for areas of new growth in your life, cheer yourself on, and celebrate milestones along the way.

When you get bogged down, remember that the unfurling of a new leaf takes time. We never know exactly what the leaf will look like until we see the full picture. It’s the same with growth in our own lives.

Personal Growth isn’t usually easy or fun, but if we learn to support our own efforts with the same enthusiasm we shower on our plants, it will be easier.

Embrace Imperfection

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just like your plants, you are not perfect. You probably already know that! The challenge is often accepting ourselves and our imperfections.

Your plant care routine can be an opportunity to embrace imperfection, both in your plants and in yourself. Learn to accept the occasional yellowing leaf or a wilted stem as a part of the natural growth process. Don’t rush to cut off that crispy edge or misshapen leaf. Lean instead into the unique beauty of each plant as it is.

By practicing acceptance of your plants, you can extend that mindset to other aspects of your life, promoting self-compassion and a more positive outlook.

Practice Gratitude

Cultivate gratitude as part of your plant care routine. Take a moment each day to express gratitude for your plants and the benefits they bring to your life. Whether it's the beauty, they add to your space or the sense of accomplishment from nurturing their growth, acknowledge and appreciate these positive things.

The more specific and descriptive you can be about each thing you’re grateful for, the more benefit the practice will have. Gratitude practices have been linked to improved mental well-being, and incorporating them into your plant care routine can enhance your overall sense of contentment and joy.

In Conclusion

In embracing a plant-centric approach to the year ahead, we've explored many ways in which our love for houseplants can support our own mindfulness practices, promoting both the well-being of our green companions and our own mental and emotional health.

As we set out on this journey of a new year, let's remember that cultivating new habits and mindfulness is a process, just like growing and indoor jungle of any size.

Whether you're rearranging small plant pockets, practicing intentional buying, or connecting with nature through your beloved plants, this year is an opportunity to weave mindfulness into the fabric of your daily routine. Embrace imperfections, savor the mindful moments during your plant care rituals, and celebrate both the small and significant growth in your life.

So, let your houseplants serve as more than just decorations; let them be anchors of mindfulness, guiding you to a healthier and more intentional life.

Happy New Year!

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