Plant Care Helps Your Mental Health
People as far back as ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Rome have been keeping gardens and potted plants. There was an indoor foliage boom and spider plants, snake plants, philodendrons, and tradescantias populated sunken living rooms everywhere in the 1970s, the decade of the world's first Earth Day.
The mental benefits of shirin-yoku (forest bathing) have been analysed by medical researchers in Japan, finding that it not only improves mood and lowers stress, but may also lower blood pressure.
How plants can make your mental health better
A non-profit organisation, the American Horticultural Therapy Association, advocates the therapeutic power of caring for plants and gardens, in the healthcare industry and in academia.
Horticultural therapy has been used since the late 19th century, when the positive effects of working with plants on patients with mental illness were documented by Dr. Benjamin Rush, "the father of American psychiatry." Horticultural therapy was no longer exclusively a treatment for mental illness in the 20th century. In the 1940s and 1950s, it was embraced by war veterans.
Therapeutic gardens are in hospitals and care facilities, fast-forward to modern times, so more can benefit from everything that plant care has to offer. The advantages of having office plants have also been uncovered by many studies.
Plant patterns come and go but what they all have in common is that it seems that being around plants has a positive impact on humans. For this innate connection, there's even a word: biophilia. Here is what can be done for your mental health by greening up your space:
Lower Stress and Anxiety
The relationship between being near indoor plants and lower levels of stress has been analysed by several small studies. A 2015 study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that psychological and physiological stress may be reduced by interacting with indoor plants. Another Japanese study concluded that even just looking at a plant on your work desk can reduce levels of anxiety.
Try something that tolerates low light, like sansevieria (snake plant) or a pet-friendly spider plant, if you want to add a bit of greenery to your desk but you don't get good sunlight. There is also evidence that it may help you feel happier, more relaxed, and less stressed by keeping flowers in your home.
It can also aide with stress when working from home. Heading outside to tend to plants allow for fresh air which can help rejuvenate and reduce stress. Working with your hands can also help lower stress, you can do this by ensuring all your garden beds, fencing, pots and vegie patches are in good order.
Better Memory and Concentration
Having trouble concentrating at your work desk at home)? Being around plants at home and in the workplace may be good for your concentration.
Many studies suggest that there is a calming effect on plants. This may help with your ability to concentrate on retaining a task and memory. A University of Michigan study found that spending time outdoors around plants can increase memory retention by up to 20%. It has also been demonstrated that ornamental plants create a positive learning environment for kids.
Interacting with plants may get that creative mind going particularly before taking on a creative task. A 2015 study found that biophilic design can help to boost creativity by up to 15% in the workplace.
The majority of plant-sparking creativity studies are school or workplace-related, but the connection between the environment and overall well-being has been recognised by advocates of plants in the workplace. So you can not only stress less, think clearly, and spark creativity in the workplace with some foliage, but you can also find similar benefits from keeping plants at home.
Flowers, according to a 2003 study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University, also have a creativity-sparking effect. So if you're careful about your ability to keep your green children alive, then try to keep your desk with a vase of fresh-cut flowers (and you totally deserve to buy flowers for yourself).
Do you need anything to help keep you motivated in the daytime? "Having plants around may help you get the job done (in your case, whatever the job" is). Employees said in a study of three offices that when their space included plants, they felt more productive. This feeds into several other studies in the workplace about keeping plants. There were similar findings in a 1996 study published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture.
Sending flowers or a plant to someone in recovery helps make their space brighter, but some researchers believe it could also help speed up the healing process. A 2009 study found that when they had plants in their room, surgery patients in recovery experienced reduced pain, anxiety, and fatigue. Patients also reported positive feelings about their recovery room talking about how their mood can be uplifted by just being around plants.
It's not just your mental health that benefits plants. They can make your space better overall. NASA studies have shown that plants improve air quality (although in order to benefit, you need A LOT of plants in your room). They can also add moisture to their air, which will save you from dry winters.
Visit your local nursery if you're new to plants and ask for the best plants for beginners, keeping in mind the lighting provided by your space, and that some plants may be toxic to pets.
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