Showing some appreciation to your house plants

Knowing the readership of this blog, I am sure I don’t need to carry on about the general value and virtues of plants, and indeed, there’s no shortage of special days celebrating plants of all sorts – trees, wetlands, you name it. Today, however, we celebrate those special plants that have been taken out of their natural environments to provide company to man in his domesticated context – today, 10 January, is House Plant Appreciation Day.

“Babies Tears”, also known as “Peace in the Home” – a popular house plant for small, confined spaces.
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Just about any plant can qualify as a house plant, as long as it can handle some level of shade, is reasonably neat and is small enough to fit into your house. Ferns are a good choice for peace and tranquility; flowering plants can add spectacular colour; small trees can create structure; certain carnivorous plants can even help rid the home of flies and other irritating bugs. At a more basic level, plants in the home help filter and clean the air, and they act as an important oxygen source.

So, on House Plant Appreciation Day, give some attention to the plants around your house. Do they look healthy and vigorous, or are they perhaps in a bit of a sorry state? If the latter, why not put in extra effort today – feed them, water them, and treat them to some personal attention. And if you happen to not have any plants in your house, perhaps today is just the time to go and buy a leafy friend from your local nursery. Of all possible pets, they are the least demanding, they react with surprising vigour to a bit of personal attention, and they can be highly therapeutic.

Go on, get a house plant, and add some life to your home.

A good excuse to howl at the moon

Today is the last Friday in October, the last Friday before Halloween, which means tonight is Howl at the Moon Night. If you’re a fan of Twilight, or any of the vampire franchises, this may be old news to you, and you’ll be all excited and prepared for this night already. On the other hand, if (like me), the whole vampire scene fails to move you, you can always take this opportunity to get rid of some pent-up frustration by indulging in a good holler once the moon appears over the horizon. I’m not suggesting the whole primal therapy trip that was so popular in the early 70s – all I’m saying is that a good yell, howl, holler or scream can do wonders for your stress levels, and if there’s a day (or night) giving you the perfect opportunity to let it rip, why not?

It may not quite be full moon yet, but the last Friday evening of October is just the excuse you need for a good holler at the moon.
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Of course, unless you work the night shift, you’re unlikely to be at work when the yelling starts. Which is a pity, given that a study reported in The Independent indicates that freely expressing anger in the workplace is a good way of keeping your heart healthy. Apparently, people who suffer in silence after unfair treatment at work have twice the risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who vent their anger. Researchers from the University of Stockholm followed 2755 male workers for a period of 13 years, from 1990 to 2003, measuring their blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol levels, and related this to their coping mechanisms at work. After correcting for biological factors, they found those who bottled up their anger had higher blood pressure and were twice as likely to suffer from heart disease. Studies on women showed similar trends, though not as pronounced as their male counterparts.

The value of a good yell is widely acknowledged.  American psychiatrist Dr Peter Calafiura says that yelling can have a positive mental influence.  It triggers endorphins, resulting in a natural high, and a generally good feeling. This is very similar to the well-known runner’s high, so perhaps today is a good day to skip your post-work run and rather have a howl at the moon – it should result in an equally good mood!

Happy howling, everyone!  A-hooooooooooooooooooooo!