Houseplants Are Good for Your Physical and Mental Health
Last year, sales of houseplants exploded. Not only did they give us a distraction from the pandemic and a splash of nature into our housebound lives, but it turns out plants are good for our mental and physical well-being, too.
Plants Keep You Happy and Relaxed
The healing power of time spent in nature is well-documented, but these same advantages extend indoors. Caring for houseplants provides many mental health benefits, including:
Improved mood and feelings of well-being. From the calming effects of dark green foliage to the aesthetic beauty of ornamental flowers, the visual addition of houseplants to your indoor environments can make you feel more relaxed, secure and happy.
Increased compassion and patience. It turns out that the same “unplugged” mindfulness required to maintain a healthy plant mirrors the skills needed to nurture other relationships in our lives as well, reminding us to give time and attention to things that matter.
Better self-esteem. We see ourselves as a reflection of our environment. Living and working surrounded by lush, thriving plants not only elevates our self-perception but delivers a healthy punch of pride, too.
Reduced stress. A study in Japan found that working with plants reduced emotions such as stress, fear, anger and sadness, resulting in reduced blood pressure, pulse rate and muscle tension.
Plants Help Heal Your Body
Caring for houseplants and indoor gardens also comes with a variety of physical health advantages, including:
Breathing easier. In addition to acting as a natural air purifier, by recycling our carbon dioxide into oxygen, NASA studies show that plants such as aloe and peace lilies filter chemicals and mold commonly found inside buildings and recommend including one plant per every 100 square feet of indoor space.
Fighting colds. Most houseplants emit 97 percent of the moisture they take in, which can help you combat dry sinuses, lessening your risk of colds and other respiratory illnesses by 30 percent.
Recovering faster. For patients recovering from surgery, those with plants or flowers in their room report lower systolic blood pressure and decreased levels of pain, anxiety and fatigue. Horticulture therapy, which incorporates basic gardening activities, is often recommended to help patients learn new motor or cognitive skills (or regain those that were lost.)
Staying fit. By including gardening in your daily routine, not only will you burn 135 calories per half-hour, but studies show tending to your plants helps you maintain a healthy diet and reduce stress.
Plants Activate Your Brain
A study by Texas A&M University showed that the process of caring for and living amongst simple foliage has a direct correlation to increased levels of creativity and productivity, and can improve your memory by up to 20 percent.
For adults with post-traumatic stress disorder, or children who struggle with attention deficit disorder, ecotherapy techniques help them focus, concentrate and stay engaged with their surroundings.
So the next time you stop to water the fern on your counter, take comfort in knowing this one small step is not only taking care of your plant, but you just might be helping it take care of you, too.
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