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On February 9, 2020, I had to say goodbye to my brother. When I said goodbye to him, tears came out of his eyes. He could hear me without really being there. I squeezed his hand, and he squeezed back. I told myself that I was one of the first people to welcome him in this world, and I was one of the last to see him leave. This is a daily struggle for me, and it’s the hardest thing that I’ll probably ever endure in my life. 

On February 14, I had gone to the store down the street from my house to get a few things my parents needed. I hadn’t eaten in a few days, most days I had spent crying, I looked pale and sick, and I was just trying to hold it all together for my family. I walked into the store and the first thing my eyes went to was a sign that read “Aloe you Vera much” with an aloe vera plant next to it. I have no idea why, but I walked right up to that plant and put it in my cart. I took this as one of the first signs I saw from my brother. I went home, found a pot I had painted years before and planted that aloe plant. 

Later that day I took it over to a friend who really was there to support my entire family during this time. That friend, (shout out Kait Soto from Flourish Juice) took that plant and it traveled around with her to random events. A month later, she asked me if I’d paint some pots to sell at her company’s birthday party. She wanted 50… I ended up painting 10. I didn’t have the motivation, I didn’t have the desire, I just couldn’t crank out 50 pots. My mental health was slashed, and I had no idea how I was going to “somewhat” reel it back in. 

Looking back, I realized she wanted me to paint those pots to get my mind off things. She asked me if I’d ever consider selling my pots and I think I probably laughed at her. Painting was just a hobby of mine, never in a million years did I ever think people would want to buy what I randomly drew up on a flowerpot. One day in May, I sat down and randomly started researching the benefits of plants. If you’ve ever lost someone, you know your house becomes Plant City. 

But did you know there’s a reason for that? I started researching all sorts of information on plants and started learning a slew of different things. I learned that plants are air purifying. Different plants clean different toxins in the air in your home and have beneficial factors for sleep, moods, stress, depression, anxiety, etc. I slowly put the pieces together. Plants help your mental health. By clearing those toxins in your home, depression symptoms, anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, PTSD, Bipolar symptoms, ADHD symptoms, are all being reduced. 

Taking care of plants benefits your mental health, as does art therapy. Being surrounded by plants and nature also have numerous positive benefits for not just your mental health but your overall physical health, as well. Plants increase our focus, attention span, promote concentration, increase our self-esteem, improve our mood along with numerous other factors. Interacting and caring for plants all have the same benefit. They increase our serotonin levels, which leads to a reduction in stress, depression and anxiety. There is even a chemical in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae that when interacted with, triggers the release of serotonin to your brain in return, lifting your mood and decreasing stress and anxiety.

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