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Plant Care as Self-Care

If we treat ourselves like we treat our plants ... I imagine some of us would be treated very well while others would be over-watered and overwhelmed. As the months get colder, consider some plant care tips that can apply to each of us as we navigate self-care in these challenging months. (Adapted from

  1. One of the most common causes of plant death is over-watering. If in doubt, wait to water your plant or consult your local plant store or online before watering. Like plants, sometimes we think we need more in our lives to regulate our mood. Before adding another activity to your routine or another snack to de-escalate stress, consider re-evaluating yourself by stopping what you are doing, taking a breath and stepping away from the situation. A little space from the stress at hand can help you assess whether you need more “water,” an honest conversation or simply a break from what’s happening in the moment.

  2. Your plants need water, light and warmth to survive. So when you're off on vacation, don't forget about your green friends. Make sure that someone else knows to keep the blinds open and the thermostat up. Like plants, we need time for self-care like vacations and opportunities to see and do different things that can improve our mood. At the same time, it’s important to ask ourselves what we need to grow and thrive year round and not just in the winter. We can access this through our own means once recognized. At times, we’ll need help from the supports who know us well.

  3. Variegated plants (featuring leaves with white edges or white flecks) often need more light than their green cousins. Keep them nearer to a window so that they can get all the light that they need. Sometimes our bodies and emotions - like plants - can communicate what we need physically/mentally/emotionally. When you’re unsure of how to handle a stressor, pause and notice yourself. Your body might be saying it’s hungry, needs to use the bathroom or a hug from a support nearby.

So next time you look at and care for your plants, take a moment to see what you can learn from plant care and whether your plant-care intent can apply to your emotional and mental well-being.


Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.

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