A plant can be considered as a basic metaphor for love. Although true that it is much easier to care for a plant than for a relationship, the basic elements are the same. Plants need water, sunlight, and attention to grow and thrive in the same ways that love and relationships need work, vigilance, and attention to flourish. If a plant is ignored for too long, it can wither away and die, similar to a neglected relationship which can grow weaker and weaker before slowly or abruptly dying away. While it is probably easier for most to give up on a problematic or high-maintenance plant, it is much more difficult to give up on the potential of love. Despite this fact, most people have likely considered this prospect at one time or another, especially after yet another failed relationship or after being lied to and cheated on for the third time.
No doubt about it, relationships are challenging and complex. The fact that the divorce rate is almost fifty percent in the United States shows how hard relationships are, even when solemn vows of long-lasting commitment are uttered before a higher power and in front of earthly loved ones. The option of working on a troubled relationship may be too daunting for some, perhaps it just being easier to throw in the towel and call it quits. It can also be overwhelming and intimidating for some to try to find new love, especially when you have been alone for so long. Despite the challenges and heartbreak, it would be a huge mistake to ever fully give up on love.
Studies have shown that love and healthy relationships can reduce one’s stress levels, feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and rates of physical illness. Other studies have found that love lowers the possibility of developing depression and other mood disorders in the future.
Love, relationships, and secure attachments have been linked to various chemical activities in the brain. Research has found that falling in love is linked with increased dopamine activity, the brain chemical involved with mood enhancement. Love and secure attachments can prompt the release of oxytocin, which increases feelings of attachment and promotes overall health. Secure attachments can also lower stress levels, as the release of cortisol and adrenaline are both reduced and balanced.
Plants are significant and serve many purposes for human beings, living creatures, and for the overall environment. Plants release oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, are used for food and medicinal purposes, provide stress relief, and are simply pretty to look at. Like plants, love has many positive benefits on one’s emotional, mental, and physical health. Plants have basic needs of water and sunlight and love is a basic need for humanity. Thus, no matter how challenging or complex it may seem, love is necessary, thus making it a mistake to ever give up on it.
Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.