What Plants Teach Us About Managing Stress?

Amidst this bustling world we inhabit, plants stand as silent yet powerful teachers, offering invaluable lessons on stress management. Following are the three key insights that plants provide:

Know Your Environment:

As sessile beings, plants have mastered the art of adapting to and tolerating the environment they live in. They respond to various abiotic and biotic factors surrounding them. Whether it’s the gentle sway of the wind, the warmth of the sun, occasional visitors like pests and pollinators, or the intricate microbiome in their rhizosphere, plants must constantly adjust to thrive. Only those with genetic and biochemical adaptations enabling them to perceive and respond effectively can survive and reproduce (Mohan et al., 2023).

Similarly, understanding our surroundings and how they influence us is vital for managing stress. Just as plants respond to external stimuli, we too must recognize the factors that impact our well-being. Knowing who we are with, the circumstances we may encounter, and the potential consequences of our decisions empowers us to navigate our environment with greater resilience (Gabriel & Aguinis, 2022). By acknowledging and adapting to the world around us, we can better manage the stressors that come our way.

Know Your Support:

Just as plants establish symbiotic relationships with organisms around them, offering food or shelter in return for protection and seed dispersal, we too can benefit from cultivating supportive relationships. By taking the time to know our peers and fostering connections based on mutual understanding and assistance, we create a network of support that can bolster us during times of stress (Park et al., 2020). Building reliable relationships is akin to the gradual evolution of symbiotic exchanges between plants and other organisms. It takes time and effort to establish trust and reciprocity, just as plants adapt to the presence and role of other organisms over years of evolution.

Having someone to talk to, to validate our experiences, and to offer reassurance that we are not alone in facing challenges can significantly alleviate stress (Agarwal et al., 2020). This sense of belonging and accountability can empower us to navigate difficult circumstances with greater resilience and confidence.

Know Your Coping Mechanisms:

Plants have indeed evolved various mechanisms to adapt to challenging conditions, ranging from developing extensive root systems to adjusting their metabolic processes. Fascinatingly, some long-living plant species have even developed a genetic memory, allowing them to recall and activate their stress response mechanisms to withstand rarely occurring harsh conditions (Fossdal et al., 2024).

Similarly, recognizing and utilizing our own coping mechanisms is crucial for maintaining emotional equilibrium in the face of stress. Whether it’s mindfulness practices, engaging in physical activity, or immersing ourselves in creative pursuits, having a repertoire of coping strategies empowers us to navigate adversity with grace and fortitude (Graves et al., 2021). However, it’s essential to acknowledge that what works best for one person may not necessarily work for another. Therefore, understanding our individual needs and preferences is key to effectively managing stress.

In essence, stress is indeed an inevitable part of life, affecting even the most nurtured plants grown in controlled environments. Despite providing optimal nutrition and conditions, plants still encounter stressors that challenge their growth and resilience. Similarly, as human beings, we must acknowledge that encountering rough phases in life is unavoidable. Embracing life’s challenges as opportunities for growth and learning enables us to develop the resilience needed to navigate adversity with grace and strength.

Let us heed the silent lessons of plants and embrace the inevitability of stress in our lives.



  1. Agarwal, B., Brooks, S. K., & Greenberg, N. (2020). The role of peer support in managing occupational stress: a qualitative study of the sustaining resilience at work intervention. Workplace Health & Safety68(2), 57-64.
  2. Fossdal, C. G., Krokene, P., Olsen, J. E., Strimbeck, R., Viejo, M., Yakovlev, I., & Mageroy, M. H. (2024). Epigenetic stress memory in gymnosperms. Plant Physiology, kiae051.
  3. Gabriel, K. P., & Aguinis, H. (2022). How to prevent and combat employee burnout and create healthier workplaces during crises and beyond. Business horizons65(2), 183-192.
  4. Graves, B. S., Hall, M. E., Dias-Karch, C., Haischer, M. H., & Apter, C. (2021). Gender differences in perceived stress and coping among college students. PloS one16(8), e0255634.
  5. Mohan, N., Jhandai, S., Bhadu, S., Sharma, L., Kaur, T., Saharan, V., & Pal, A. (2023). Acclimation response and management strategies to combat heat stress in wheat for sustainable agriculture: A state-of-the-art review. Plant Science, 111834.
  6. Park, I. J., Kim, P. B., Hai, S., & Dong, L. (2020). Relax from job, Don’t feel stress! The detrimental effects of job stress and buffering effects of coworker trust on burnout and turnover intention. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management45, 559-568.



About the Author

Kumanan N. Govaichelvan is a PhD student at Universiti Malaya, Malaysia and a 2024 Plantae Fellow. Coming from a rice consuming country, he believes that his current research project will help enhance crop breeding process and sustain food security. He also likes discussing philosophy, Kazuo Ishiguro novels and human evolution. You can find him on X at @NGKumanan.