Now that the new year has finally arrived, it's the perfect time to prioritize your overall well-being. One simple and effective way to do this is by incorporating plants into your daily routine. Studies have shown that plants can have a positive impact on mental health and can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase productivity. Let’s explore the ways in which plants can benefit your mental health and provide tips on how to get started.
Mental health is an essential aspect of overall health and well-being. It refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and how we think, feel, and behave. Poor mental health can lead to a range of adverse outcomes, including difficulty functioning at work or school, relationship problems, and physical health issues. On the other hand, good mental health can enhance our ability to cope with the challenges of daily life and contribute to our overall happiness and quality of life.
One way that plants can improve mental health is by reducing stress, which is a normal part of life and can be caused by a variety of factors such as work, relationships, and financial issues. Chronic stress can have negative impacts on mental health, leading to conditions like anxiety and depression. A study by Thompson et al. in 2012, found that being around plants can help reduce stress and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, office workers who had plants in their workspace reported lower levels of stress and increased job satisfaction compared to those who did not have plants.
Plants can also have a calming effect and can help create a sense of relaxation. Being around plants can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, thereby contributing to a feeling of relaxation. In addition, taking care of plants, such as watering and pruning, can provide a sense of accomplishment and can be a mindful and therapeutic activity. This is known as horticultural therapy, or gardening therapy (Hall and Knuth 2019); it uses plants and gardening activities to improve mental health and well-being. Horticultural therapy has been shown to be effective in treating a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Horticultural therapy can be done individually or in a group setting and is beneficial for people of all ages and abilities.
Well-being refers to the overall state of being healthy and happy; it encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health, and involves feeling satisfied with one's life, having a sense of purpose and meaning. Improving one's well-being involves taking care of their physical and mental health, forming positive relationships, and engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment. Furthermore, being around plants can contribute to overall well-being by improving mood and increasing feelings of happiness. In fact, one study by Marlon Nieuwenhuis in 2014 found that people who spent time in a room with plants reported higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety compared to those in a room without plants. Additionally, caring for plants can provide a sense of purpose and enjoyment.
Plants have been shown to have numerous benefits for physical health, including improving air quality and reducing the risk of certain diseases. But did you know that plants can also have a positive impact on mental health? Studies have found that being around plants can reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of happiness and relaxation (Barton and Pretty 2010, Wolf and Housley 2014 et al.). Spending time in nature, such as through outdoor activities like hiking and gardening, has also been shown to have mental health benefits. Being around plants is a great way to connect with nature and reap the benefits of being outdoors.
In conclusion, incorporating plants into your daily routine can have numerous benefits for your mental health and overall well-being. From reducing stress and improving mood to increasing feelings of happiness and providing a sense of accomplishment, the positive impacts of plants are numerous. Whether you decide to bring plants into your home, spend time in nature, or try horticultural therapy, there are many ways to incorporate plants into your life and improve your mental health. So as the new year approaches, consider adding some greenery to your life and see the positive effects it can have on your well-being.
Nieuwenhuis, M., Knight, C., Postmes, T., & Haslam, S. A. (2014, July 28). The Relative
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Hall, C., & Knuth, M. (2019). An update of the literature supporting the well-being benefits of plants: A review of the emotional and mental health benefits of plants. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 37(1).
Brown, D.K., J.L. Barton, and V.F. Gladwell. 2013. Viewing nature scenes positively affects recovery of autonomic function following acute-mental stress. Environ. Sci. Tech. 47 (11).
Keniger, L., K. Gaston, K. Irvine, and R. Fuller. 2013. What are the benefits of interacting with nature? Intl. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 10 (3).
Mensah, C.A., L. Andres, U. Perera, and A. Roji. 2016. Enhancing quality of life through the lens of green spaces: A systematic review approach. International Journal of Wellbeing 6 (1).
Wolf, K. and E. Housley. 2014. Reflect & restore: urban green space for mental wellness. The TKF Foundation, Annapolis, MD.
Thompson, C.W., J. Roe, P. Aspinall, R. Mitchell, A. Clow, and D. Miller. 2012. More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns. Land. Urban Plan. 105 (3):
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