Illustration by Noelle Barrera
My first year at Trinity was an emotional rollercoaster. Unfortunately, my rollercoaster had more low points than high ones. In the fall, my depression and anxiety got the best of me following the loss of a close relative in late October. I spiraled and began to feel as though I was less and less in control of my life one day after the next. After finally seeking help in the spring, I decided that I no longer wanted to live like that. I was set off on the pursuit of self-care.
Throughout all of high school up until this past fall, I have struggled to find self-care tactics that work for me. Applying face masks and drinking tea didn’t boost my mood, and exercise lowered my confidence rather than raising it. Additionally, taking naps just fed into my depressive thoughts. Even my favorite light-hearted television shows (really just “Bob’s Burgers”) lost the power that they once had to turn my mood around. Halfway through my spring semester, I figured that maybe self-care just wasn’t for me.
One Saturday morning, a friend and I went to the Pearl Farmers Market, where I bought a four-inch succulent that I later named Elena. As soon as I got back to the dorm, I began researching how to best take care of Elena — since I had named her, therefore making her my child, I felt obligated to keep her alive to the best of my abilities.
While researching “succulent care 101,” I stumbled across multiple articles elaborating upon the psychological benefits of keeping houseplants. I found that having plants in your room has been proven to boost your mood and relieve stress, and some plants even purify the air, lending to a healthier lifestyle — all of which sounded pretty good to me.
The following week, I went to Home Depot on a whim and came back to the dorm with three new plants and absolutely no idea how to care for them. With some quick Google searches, I figured out the watering and sunlight needs of each plant and did my best to keep them alive (and no, not a single one is alive today).
Since buying these plants, I have acquired over forty. I know that sounds crazy — and trust me, I know that it is — but caring for houseplants has become my own form of self-care. Not only are they nice to look at on my bookshelf and desk, but they give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning when I feel like letting my blanket weigh me down all day.
For me, it’s not just looking at the plants that is calming, but it’s also tending to them. When I started, as you probably have figured out, I had no clue what I was doing and seemingly killed every plant that I touched. However, as time has gone on and I now take greater care in the plants I choose to bring home, I think it’s safe to say I (almost) have a green thumb — all in less than six months’ time.
If you’re interested in becoming a plant parent and unsure of what you’re doing, I recommend sticking to the basics at first. Golden pothos plants and snake plants are both great low-maintenance houseplants for first-timers or anyone just looking to add some greenery to their room. That being said, if a plant speaks to you — bring it home with you! As long as you research and stick to its care requirements, you’ll be fine.
Out of everything that I learned in my first year at Trinity, the most important lesson to me was that I need to take care of myself. It is important to recognize that self-care is about finding a healthy routine and sticking to it and that everyone’s version of self-care is different. That being said, if you ever feel trapped in your search for healthy self-care habits, get a plant! If it’s not the solution, well, at least it’ll look pretty on your desk.