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Houseplants as Part of a Healthy Home

The environment that we live in is an important factor impacting our health and wellbeing, whether it is the wider environment of our community or in our own home. As our home environment is the one that we have greatest control over, that is a good place to start working on any changes for the better. There are so many ways of doing that from updating soft furnishings to renovation projects, but one of the simplest and most effective is to introduce plants to your living space, so that is what I am going to focus on here. As biophilic interior designer Oliver Heath explains in his book Design a Healthy Home “Houseplants are more than just a trend; multiple studies have shown their positive effects on our wellbeing… Thanks to our evolutionary development, we are hard-wired to feel more comfortable with greenery nearby, and feel a strong association between plants and health.”

As well as promoting a sense of wellbeing and relieving stress, houseplants can help purify the air in our home. Like all plants, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Plants such as the peace lily, aloe vera and snake plant are particularly good for bedrooms because they release more oxygen at night than during the day. Houseplants can also filter from the air pollutants, such as benzene and formaldehyde, that are released by everyday household products. As well as the plants mentioned above for bedrooms, some others that are effective at removing chemicals from the air are spider plants, Kentia palms, India rubber plants, dumb canes, cast iron plants (Aspidistra), devils’ ivy and jade trees (also known as money plants). You will need about five per room (or fewer large plants) to make a meaningful difference to the air quality.

If you are sceptical about your ability to keep a plant alive, you could try the almost unkillables such as the appropriately named cast iron plant or a snake plant. A wealth of advice on caring for houseplants is out there for you to tap into. A good place to start are the Royal Horticultural Society’s House Plant Book and their Practical Cactus & Succulent Book. Online plant retailers like Patch Plants and Hortology provide helpful information on choosing and caring for houseplants. Nurturing something is a rewarding experience with its own benefits to health and wellbeing, and you may even learn some new skills to boot!

Houseplants can help you tap into your creativity too by making them part of your interior design. You can mix up where you position them: on the floor, on surfaces or hanging from shelves, walls or ceilings. You can mix up or co-ordinate the shapes, sizes, textures, colours and patterns of the plants, their leaves, flowers and containers. All three of the books mentioned above will give you pointers for this.

I hope that you have found something here to inspire you to use plants to create a healthier and happier environment for yourself and for all those who share your home.

What Do You Value?

It was Mental Health Awareness Week on the 9th to the 15th of May this year, so that sets the theme for this month’s post. Values are the foundations that we build our lives upon, giving rise to our beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviour, so understanding our core values and living authentically to them is key to good mental health and subsequently to physical health too.

A value is something that is important to you to the point that it is linked to an emotional state that you either seek to experience or to avoid. So if one of your values is honoured, you will experience positive emotions and if it is violated, you will experience negative emotions.

Examples of values are: integrity, status, honesty, relationships, wealth, loyalty, adventure, security, health, power, creativity, nature, justice, fun, freedom, discretion, modesty, etc. The same value can mean different things to different people, for example adventure to person A may mean exploring close to home and to person B it may be cycling round the World. When you are living in harmony with your values, you will experience ease of being. Whereas living in a way that conflicts with your values will cause emotional distress, which in the long-term can lead to physical symptoms too, so it is important to address the problem.

Most, if not all, values are learned from parents, wider family, cultural heritage, the education system, work culture, etc. For that reason, some of the values that you have may not be authentic to you and may not be serving you, which is why it is worth reflecting on them. Take a moment now or schedule another time to list your top ten values and consider what each will give you when you honour that value. Are there any in that list that don’t sit so comfortably with you now that you have reflected on them? And where in your life are you dishonouring any of your core values and what could you do to change that?

It can be interesting to review your values regularly, say monthly or annually, to observe any change and to notice which are always in your top ten. Be aware that the priority may change according to what is going on in your life at the time. Have fun exploring your values and I hope that it helps you achieve greater ease of being.

How to Pay into Your Emotional Bank Accounts

My coaching training has taught me that the quality of our relationships affects our health and wellbeing more than many of us realise. A dysfunctional relationship with a partner, friend, family member or colleague can harm not only our mental health, but our physical health too, so it pays to work on maintaining healthy relationships. A really helpful way to do that is to look at relationships as emotional bank accounts. As with a financial bank account, you can make deposits and withdrawals into an emotional bank account, but with actions instead of money. The deposits are made with affirming actions such as kindness, consideration and honesty. The withdrawals are leaning on the other (metaphorically), being discourteous, forgetting a birthday or anniversary, etc. If you take out more than you put in, you go overdrawn and that’s when you feel as though you are walking through a minefield.

So what can you do to put credits into your joint emotional bank accounts? In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests the following six actions:

  1. Understand the other’s needs - see things from their perspective and work out what they would appreciate.
  2. Pay attention to the little things, they really do count - it could be taking your significant other tea in bed in the morning, giving your child your full attention, touching base with a friend, hugging an elderly relative or showing gratitude to a colleague.
  3. Keep commitments - if you say you are going to do something, do it, otherwise you risk losing the trust of others and withdrawing from the emotional bank account instead of depositing into it.
  4. Clarify expectations - don’t leave others to guess what you expect of them and vice versa, talk, be clear and be kind.
  5. Show integrity - Stephen Covey describes integrity as “conforming reality to our words - in other words keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self, but also with life.”
  6. Apologise when you make a withdrawal - acknowledge it, apologise sincerely and avoid doing it again if you can. Actions speak louder than words.

Give before you expect to receive. Your own behaviour can set an example to those around you to follow in how they relate to you and to others, so your ripples of influence can spread far and wide. I can highly recommend reading Stephen Covey’s book. It is a classic that still holds true today and can help you reach your potential, not just in your relationships, but in other areas of your life as well.

Financial Wellbeing

Money is often an overlooked part of the health and wellbeing equation, but it is a key component. It is particularly pertinent now that we are all affected by rising energy and food costs, all right on the back of the financial disruption of the coronavirus pandemic. Financial wellbeing is a huge subject and I am no expert, so here I just want to raise awareness of it and provide a few signposts.

The reason that our financial well being is so important is that it affects other key areas of our life: emotional wellbeing, physical health, relationships, our lifestyle and the pace of it, our environment and our life purpose. It can be helpful to know that financial concerns affect almost everyone, whether rich or poor, but it is the nature of the problem that varies with circumstances, whether that is:

  • Under earning

  • Over spending

  • Debt

  • How to save/invest wisely

  • Financial insecurity

  • Guilt around spending or inherited wealth

  • Gifting too much or too little

  • Seemingly unattainable dreams

  • Leaving a financial legacy

  • Etc...

A good place to start with tackling financial wellbeing is reflecting on your thoughts and feelings about money, for example do you see it as a good thing or a bad thing? Or does it depend on the circumstances? Do you feel shame around money? If so why? Do you talk about money? These are just a very few examples. There are plenty more in The Art of Money: a life-changing guide to financial happiness by Bari Tessler, which takes a the wonderfully holistic approach, and the classic by Barbara Stanny Overcoming Underearning: a five-step plan to a richer life.

The next step is understanding where those thoughts and feelings around money come from. Think back to childhood and your circumstances then. What did your parents ‘teach’ you about money with their behaviour and language, deliberately or inadvertently? How does that play out in your life now? Again, there is plenty more guidance around that in the two books mentioned above.

And does your spending reflect your values? If you are unsure what your values are, think of what you value most, what is most important to you? A value will be linked to an emotional state that you seek to experience or to avoid, so if one of your values is met, you will experience a positive emotion and if it is violated, you will experience a negative emotion. Perhaps list your top ten values. Examples are honesty, integrity, kindness, caring, love, generosity, family, friendships, health, status, justice, beauty, spirituality, peace, etc.

Once you have gained an insight into your relationship with money, you are ready to take the practical steps to address any financial concerns that you have, whether that is logging your spending, arranging debt repayments, saving, investing, writing or updating a will, etc.

Getting clear on your dreams is another part of the picture. What do you want to achieve and by when? Afterall, a dream is a goal without a due date. What financial resources do you need to achieve that goal? What small steps can you start taking now?

I hope this has given you financial food for thought. Other resources to help you digest it, in addition to the books mentioned above, are Financial Recovery: developing a healthy relationship with money by Karen McCall and her Financial Recovery website.

Self Love

I am writing this on Valentine’s Day, hence the reflection on love. It is as important to love ourselves as it is to love others, but what does that mean? It can be hard to feel love for ourselves and the term ‘self love’ may not sit comfortably. I certainly prefer to think in terms of self care. Afterall, love of others is not just how we feel about them, but what we do for them as an expression of that love. So we can express our self love as self care, as being kind to ourselves and doing what supports our health and wellbeing.

To me, the lyrics of this song by Alexia Chellun are about self love, and reciting them as a mantra has certainly helped me to grasp a sense of that at times when I have been struggling (her voice is angelic, so I can highly recommend listening to her singing the words). The references to light also make it relevant as we transition into spring and the season of growth. We can tap into the energy of spring for personal growth, which in itself is a form of self love and of self care…


I’m allowing me to be me

I’m allowing me to be free

I’m allowing my power

I’m allowing wellbeing

I’m allowing my path to light up before me

I’m allowing everything to just be as it comes to me

I'm shining brightly

I’m allowing, easily allowing, all my dreams to be in the right timing

I’m allowing me to be me

I’m allowing me to be free

I’m allowing my worth

I’m allowing my brilliance

I’m allowing my path to unfold now before me

I’m allowing everything to just be as it comes to me

I'm shining brightly

I’m allowing, easily allowing, all my dreams to be in the right timing

I’m allowing me to be me

I’m allowing me to be free to be me.