Stressed out? Suffering from dry eyes and cracked or rough skin? Having a hard time focusing? Believe it or not, plants may be your saving grace. While they're a must-have item for any home decor, indoor plants can do a lot more for you than green up a room—they can boost your mental and physical health just by being nearby. Even if you're not an expert gardener, there are plenty of easy-to-care-for species that just about anyone can keep alive (some of them even prefer to be neglected). Here are 7 ways that adding plants to indoor spaces can improve your well-being.
1. Reduce Anxiety With Higher Oxygen Levels
It's been proven that increased oxygen levels in the air can help reduce feelings of anxiety, so if you want to feel a little more Zen, why not start an indoor garden? Houseplants naturally make oxygen as they photosynthesize, and of course, the more plants you have around you, the more oxygen they will produce. All you have to do is a little deep breathing while you're watering.
2. Increase Your Creative Thinking
While plants themselves may not help creativity, their color might. One study in 2016 found that people working on creative tasks with a view of the outdoors showed increased visual creativity. What was more shocking was that people using green paper without views of the outdoors showed even MORE creativity. So if you can’t introduce real plants into your workspace, try using green office supplies or artwork for creative inspiration.
3. Lessen Stress
Even a small potted plant on the window sill can actually help you de-stress. A 2015 study showed that interaction with indoor plants can reduce stress by suppressing the autonomic nervous system, or the system that controls bodily functions like the fight or flight response. Plants help calm a stressed mind and lower blood pressure, making your personal spaces more relaxing environments. And if you find that indoor plants help you de-stress, spending some time outside enjoying nature when the weather's nice—even in your backyard—can help even more.
4. Increase Your Productivity
When you've got a big project for work due, enlist the help of some plants! A 2014 study showed that people were 15% more productive when they had plants in their workspace. Who knew a simple potted plant could make such a huge difference? Office plants are even known to reduce afternoon fatigue, helping you get over that 2:30 afternoon slump.
5. Prevent Health Problems with More Humidity
When indoor air gets dry, especially in winter when many of us heat our homes, that can be hard on our bodies in many ways from making our skin itchy to aggravating allergies. Researchers have found that maintaining indoor air between 40-60% humidity can help you avoid many of these issues. Houseplants like the Chinese evergreen and spider plant all naturally add humidity—all you have to do is keep them watered. In general, the larger the leaves, the more humidity your plant will give off.
6. Boost Your Mood
Being a plant parent can be good for your overall well-being. Studies have found that taking care of houseplants, especially a large quantity of them, can help release endorphins, making you feel happier and more energized. Some doctors in the UK have even begun prescribing plants so that patients get the mood-boosting benefits of caring for them.
7. Speed Up Healing and Decrease Pain
Plant-filled indoor spaces may help us heal faster from injuries and feel less pain. For example, a study in 2009 found that surgical patients reported lower pain and recovered more quickly when they had plants in their hospital rooms compared to when they had no plants. Some hospitals also have programs that allow patients to interact with plants through gardening because of the many therapeutic benefits of doing so in terms of regaining health and coping with pain.
We expect this list of benefits will keep growing the more that scientists research houseplants' effects on our health, but it's already clear these leafy roommates are well worth having around. Even if you've already got a thriving collection, there's always room for one more, and you could always try some more challenging varieties. If you're just starting your indoor garden, there are plenty of easy-care houseplants out there that just about anyone can keep alive. Now if only sticking to other healthy habits like regularly working out were as easy as adding a few plants to your home!