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Between a pandemic, election season, and civil unrest occurring all over the country, to describe this year as stressful would be an understatement. 


In this current political, economic, and social climate, many of us are struggling to find safe, affordable, and effective ways to combat our stress and anxiety levels, which according to the American Psychological Association, have seen a significant increase in the past year. 


Enter gardening–a proven, easy, and affordable way to combat stress, anxiety, depression, and promote overall mental health. 


In order to gain more insight on using gardening to combat stress, I sat down and spoke with Drake Murphy, a sophomore psychology student at the University of Maryland, College Park and owner of the Instagram account @botanicalvsn. Pronounced as “botanical vision”, the page is completely dedicated to documenting his ongoing journey with all of his plants and giving valuable advice while doing so.  


When did you begin your journey with growing plants and why?

I didn’t get my first plant until August of last year. My mother owns a bunch of orchids, like I don’t know, I can’t even count. She’s been growing the same ones since I was a child, and I basically mimicked her in a way. She takes care of them like they’re her own children and I kind of want to do that now.


What can people expect to see on your Instagram page?

Basically, with that page, I’m giving unsolicited advice. I describe the plant I’m talking about, my journey with it, what struggles I’ve had with it and relate the struggles I’ve had with that plant to real life struggles that I have faced or that other people may have faced. So it’s kind of like a thing where people can come freely, read what’s on my page, see if it relates to them possibly, and hopefully they get something out of it. 


Since getting your plants, how much of a positive impact on your mental health do you think taking care of your plants has had?

It’s had a major impact on my mental health. Words can’t describe how beneficial it’s been to me this past year especially Fall/Winter 2019. During quarantine I went overboard with the plant buying and I just took time to focus on the things in my life which have been causing me trouble and it just keeps me occupied. I wanted to see the growth of the plants and I wanted to mimic that growth with me. When I see the growth of my plants, it’s kind of motivating in a way. 


Would you say you’ve been able to better manage stress since owning your plants? 

It’s helped me do better with stress management. I can look at them and they’ll automatically calm me down, help me relax and not be so tense.


On your page you talk about the various valuable life lessons each of your plants have taught you. What do you think are some of the most important lessons that becoming a plat owner has taught you?

The most important thing would definitely be patience. During this time during the fall and winter, the plants won’t be growing as much. So when it comes to this point in time, I have to remind myself that they’re going to give me nothing! They’re going to be asleep, they’re not going to be worried about me! Patience would definitely be the most important thing my plants have taught me, it relates to real life, things won’t happen at the snap of a finger, you just have to be patient. 


What plants would you recommend to someone in the beginning stages of growing plants?

I definitely recommend the aloe vera or the dracena marginata or any philodendron. The aloe vera grows fast, it nevers stops growing. The marginata they’re drought tolerant, they can go a long time without water. So philodendrons are not one plant, it’s a whole family of plants, there are like hundreds of species of philodendron out there, and the good thing about them is that they grow with or without sunlight and they don’t stop growing as well.


Any other wisdom you’d like to impart on our readers?

It’s an amazing investment. I have an addiction now! Just the patience thing is probably the most important thing I’ve learned. Patience with yourself, patience with other people, patience with anything. I feel like recently, I’ve always been patient but sometimes I can get really out of hand, and the plants really help me with keeping my composure a lot of the time. It helps me with knowing that some things just don’t go your way a lot of time. You just have to be decisive with your decisions and know that you made the right decision in the long run.

Sophomore political science and international affairs major at Howard University from PG County, Maryland writing on all things political, cultural, and black!
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