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EDITORIAL: Plants offer comfort, community to help us through stress

Plants give us year-round comfort as they grow with us

Plants are more than aesthetically pleasing — they also help alleviate stress. – Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

As we finish up midterms and finalize papers, we are all coming down from a stressful time. An important part of dealing with stress is knowing how to manage it and what steps you can take to alleviate it. One of the best ways to destress is through plants.

In fact, during some of the most stressful times in the beginning of the coronavirus disease (COVID–19) pandemic, people turned to buying plants. As people were worried about COVID-19 and stuck inside, they looked for different things to do to help get them through their situation.

In what felt like an endless winter of pandemic surges and disappointments, plants offered some optimism. Plants begin from nothing, and then they start to bloom and get bigger and become incredibly beautiful: something we were all searching for in those early days of the pandemic.

In stressful times, whether due to a pandemic or to the pressures of school, it can be difficult to keep to a daily routine that gives structure. In having a plant, we have to nurture it: We have to water it, take care of it, repot it, re-soil it. All of these things make up a daily routine that is important to the plant but also important to us.

As we give our plants attention and make them part of our daily routines, we see them grow. The pleasure of seeing a plant blossom, get bigger and be healthy is remarkable because we see how much impact our time can have.

Taking care of plants also shows us that we are capable of taking care of something — it gives us a boost in our own abilities. Not just that, taking care of plants, in a way, reminds us to take care of ourselves.

If we can remember to take care of our plants, it sets us up to take care of ourselves. Plant care is self-care.

Plants also grow with us. When you have had a plant for a while, it becomes part of your very existence, and you begin to see your own growth mirrored by the plant. Whenever you look at it, you see how much you have grown, just as the plant has.

Plants also teach us the importance of stepping back, being patient and appreciating the growth. In a society that is so rushed, where we have to feel like we are productive every second of every day, having a plant teaches us also to look at things a bit differently.

In this sense of growth, there is no instant gratification. We see how long it takes for a plant to grow, how much work we have put in, and we see the results after awhile. This delayed gratification helps us get through stressful moments and makes our lives better.

Plants offer us a sense of community, in addition to comfort. Not only do many people offer up clippings of their plants, but forming groups of plant owners is also a form of support and a great way to remain rooted in our communities.

There are various plant groups and communities that engage in sharing plants, whether that be in a pay-it-forward mode or simply just helping new people to learn and grow with their new plants.

This support group is not just for plant tricks and advice — they give emotional comfort and help us destress.

Students should look into how to incorporate plants into their lives. We should visit and buy from local garden stores that are based in our communities. We also should look to support the Rutgers greenhouses, where they do research, lead educational programs and sell plants.

In doing these things, we will not just enter into a community of supportive people appreciating nature but we will also give back.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 154th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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