Back to School or Back to the Office: How Gardens Play a Role in Your Well-being 

Stress is Back

Work. Kids. Money. Traffic. School. Relationships. Planning. The list goes on and on. 

Back To School

Every day, we are surrounded by stressors that cause our heart rate to accelerate, our palms to sweat, our minds to spiral, and our anxiety to increase. Stressors can even cause problems within the digestive and reproductive systems. A huge issue within our society today is that of chronic stress. 

As we gear up to go back to school, back into the office, off to our first day at a new job, or back to focusing on our to-do list, it is natural that our minds and bodies will begin to take on more stress. Luckily, however, there are ways we can combat and manage it. 

How does stress work?

When our mind tells our bodies that there is a stressor, our body responds by increasing its level of cortisol, the stress hormone. The American Psychological Association explains that cortisol takes us back to our primal roots and encourages the “fight or flight” response in the body. Although most of the time we probably are not fighting off a saber tooth tiger or taking flight from one, this jolt of cortisol can still be induced by a confrontation with a partner or coworker, a mistake made with a client’s account, or even the driver who cut you off on the freeway. 

How can we combat chronic stress?

Using the Earth as a resource to ground yourself and help you to connect to who you truly are has been shown to increase “generosity, cooperation, kindness, creativity, social connection, and resilience—not to mention less nervousness, anxiety and fear” (Keltner). The simple act of placing your feet on the bare earth can provide a sense of calm and contentment. Thus, utilizing our natural resources can greatly diminish the negative effects that stress has on our daily lives. 

What is Grounding?

Grounding, which is also known as Earthing, is based on the idea that “humans evolved in direct contact with the Earth’s subtle electric charge.” However, as our species has evolved and as technology advances, humans have lost their direct connection with the earth due to shoes, pavement, and other inventions that remove our bare feet from direct contact with the ground. 

There are countless studies that demonstrate the benefits of the simple act of taking a barefoot stroll through the grass, sand, mud, dirt, or whatever other earthy extracts you choose. In a study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, researchers found that grounding can “improve sleep, normalize the day–night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic towards parasympathetic activation, increase heart rate variability, speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity.”

That is powerful. 

Grounding in Daily Life

Chances are you are probably not going to say “Sayonara” to your shoes. I can tell you from personal experience that it is not exactly socially acceptable to adopt the no shoes, no shirt, no problem mindset. Typically, we are greeted with the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” banner, instead. For example:

I lived in Hawaii for a year, after graduating from college in 2020. In Hawaii, hardly anyone who actually lives there wears shoes, which makes sense, because you are constantly going to beaches and jumping in the ocean. Shoes are too much of a hassle to bother with. No shoes, no shirt, no problem. I loved this lifestyle and quickly ditched all of my shoes. It was not uncommon for me to take my shoes off during a hike (it was honestly better for traction on dusty or muddy paths), walk into the grocery store barefoot, and concoct up enough calluses that it did not bother me to walk along rocks or gravel. Flash forward to my move to San Diego, where I continued on without my shoes. I walked into a Target to get some basic necessities for my new living quarters and was immediately confronted by a manager who told me I had to exit the premises if I was not going to wear shoes. Fair enough.   

So, let’s not jump to drastic measures and donate all of our shoes, quite yet. But, the question remains: how can we use the practices of grounding and nature in our day-to-day lives at work and at school? 

The Simplicity of Greenery

Back To School Gardening

The simple act of incorporating green space or moments in or thinking about nature in your day-to-day workspace can have profoundly positive effects on your mental health. Many companies have begun to understand the benefits of using nature to nurture creativity, productivity, and a positive mindset within their workspaces. Huge titans in business such as Apple, Amazon, Headstorm, and WeWork have made a conscious effort in playing their part to create a direct connection to nature for their employees. For example, Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley takes the connection to nature to a new level, with four stories of spherical glass to maximize sunlight and greenery. The headquarters of Amazon in Seattle transport their employees to a jungle with 40,000 different kinds of trees from all around the world, even allowing their workers to work in treehouses. Another example, is at the headquarters of Headstorm, a high-powered technology consultancy company that has desktop gardens on every desk in the office. Bringing nature and microsteps to mindfulness and wellbeing to everyone in the office.

Not all of us have the luxury of working in treehouse spheres or all glass buildings, so allow me to offer up the next best thing: Gardenuity.

Gardenuity: Indoor Plants

Desktop Garden
Desktop Gardens can help bring mental well-being practices to your every day.

Gardenuity is on a mission to make gardening accessible to everyone. It does not matter if you do not live in a house with a big yard, or have ample time and money to tend to your garden. Gardenuity offers an elegant yet simple way to start and maintain a garden, no matter your circumstances. We believe that nothing should stop you from receiving the bountiful benefits of gardening and greenery. 

Desktop plants are a great start to grow your levels of contentment, peace, and calm. Offering anything from a Fern Garden, a Tropical Garden, or a Succulent Garden in different pots that match your aesthetic, Gardenuity can give you the resources to add a spark to your day every day.

Ideas for your Indoor Plants + Daily Routine

Grounding and greenery can do wonders not only for your mental health but also for your physical health. Here are some simple, but effective ways to incorporate nature and gardening into your day-to-day life:

  1. Start your day with early morning sunlight – go outside and tend to your garden, go on a short and quiet walk, or sit on your porch or balcony with a cup of tea
  2. Care for your desk garden – dust and mist the plants
  3. Kick off your shoes and feel the earth under your toes
  4. Go on an evening stroll to prepare your body for sleep

For more information about grounding, I recommend listening to the “The Science of Happiness podcast” or watching the documentary, “The Earthing Movie.” We would love to hear your thoughts.

Let’s grow, shall we?