Plant Care in Black Mental Wellness
This season of Covid-19 and Quarantine have made ‘home wellness practices’ more important than ever. We all want new ways to bring fresh energy into our lives and homes. During mental health awareness month, we are exploring the benefits of plant therapy on Black wellness.
Hashtags like #blackwithplants , #blackmenwithgardens , #blackgirlswithplants , and so many more have been taking over social media for the last few years and blessing us with beautiful images of Melanin and Greenery.
Starting from the top left: @somethingaboutalicia @conundrum.dunn @bstanciell @theeplantdaddy @blackmenwithgardens @garden.of.beautii @the87edit @macumbeiropapi @blackgirlswithgardens @totianamonay @hiltoncarter @foreverkwentin @tishyvette @blackchlorophyll
As if the Melanin wasn’t enough to make us swoon, but against the contrast of bright green plants - the beauty has been a lot to take in. But the benefits of making Plant Care-Taking a part of your life, go way beyond the 'gram!
We’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Founder of Wellness Blog, Zelue - Danielle Alvarez, about the role of Plant Care-Taking on her incredible Wellness Journey.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Kids Yoga teacher, Wellness Advocate, and Founder of Wellness blog, Zelue.
“There have always been black farmers and black herbalists. Plant care is ingrained in us. I’m loving the rise of more black plant parents! It’s so important to see this representation because if you don’t see yourself you may question if something is for you. When I go to plant events I can’t describe the feeling I get when I see other black plant enthusiasts. I’ve met and spoken to amazing brothers and sisters in the online plant community on social media.” - Danielle Alvarez
Danielle’s Wellness Journey- both as a Black Woman and as a Nurse:
My wellness journey began two years ago. I experienced burnout working as a Registered Nurse. Burnout is common among health care professionals. I worked 12 hour night shifts on a high acuity floor. I was always tired and I wasn’t eating right. I didn’t take the time to take care of myself. As a black woman, I didn’t prioritize self-care. I never saw it growing up. The women in my life were always working; giving 100% of themselves at all times. We are always taught to take care of others and get the job done. My neglect of self care started to affect my health where I developed severe migraines. My symptoms were under control when I took medication but I wasn’t treating the underlying cause. That is when I started to treat myself holistically. I went plant based and stopped consuming meat and dairy, I saw an improvement in my overall health. I also started practicing yoga, journaling, reading and studying the bible, meditating, and taking care of plants. Once I started incorporating these things in my self-care practices and switched to a new role with a more accommodating schedule ; my migraines subsided and I felt a lot better. When working in a career where you give so much of yourself to others, it’s so important to develop a self-care routine.
The impact of Plant Care-Taking on Danielle’s Health + Wellness:
Plant care has helped me in so many ways. It’s quite funny because I always assumed that I had a “black” thumb. I know now that there is no such thing as a black thumb in regards to plant care. You just have to find the right plant for your lifestyle and environment. My first plant was a snake plant which is relatively easy to take care of. Once I felt confident I started to venture out and get more plants.
Plant care allows me to slow down and it is very relaxing. Nothing beats a gorgeous Saturday morning taking the time to water and tend to each plant. It’s a form of meditation. It allows me to quiet all the noise in my head and focus on the task at hand. Taking care of my plants have helped tremendously with stress relief.
As Danielle gets ready to celebrate her first Mother’s Day with her daughter, she tells us some of the things that she is excited to share with her about Plant Care-Taking:
As a new mother I look forward to sharing this self care practice with my daughter. I want her to know that digging her hands in soil and seeing a seed grow is self-therapeutic. I want her to know she is capable of healing herself with herbs or nourishing her body with the food she can grow. Taking care of plants will teach her responsibility and respect for taking care of living things. Planting her first seed will teach her patience in watching it grow and compassion and understanding if it dies. I want her to feel relaxed and refreshed when she sees greenery throughout the house. Teaching children about plant care has so many life lessons and you are passing down a skill they can use for a lifetime.
Black wellness is non-negotiable. BLAQUE will always support and provide offerings that encourage our community to be well. In honor of Nurses Week (May 6th- May 12th), join BLAQUE in thanking our #BlackNurses by:
-Tuning into our LIVE on Instagram with Danielle Alvarez (@zelue) Thursday, May 7th at 5:30pm to further explore her experiences as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Black Woman, and new Mother. We will unpack different ways that we can be there for the Healthcare Professionals in our lives.
-Inviting a Nurse and or Frontline Essential Worker in your life to join in BLAQUE’s Guided Meditations for Frontline Essential Workers, posted on IGTV beginning on May 6th!
-Supporting Harlem's own Teranga in their initiative to donate daily meals to Healthcare Workers across NYC
Remember to follow Zelue for more Self-Care + Wellness tips and Plant Love from Danielle Alvarez.