Humans have this innate connection and craving for nature – just a few minutes in green spaces have an almost immediate restorative effect and stress relief. Green exercise – working out in an area surrounded by greenery and nature – gives a positive boost to mood and self-esteem.
Research and experiments have shown the varying benefits of the great outdoors to the mental and physical health of individuals.
More and more these days, we learn and feel the importance of nature and time outdoors while in lockdown and quarantine. Since movement outside is limited, many have begun bringing the outdoors in with indoor plants.
Photo source: Unsplash | Charlota Blunarova
Turns out, there are a whole lot more benefits that indoor plants bring apart from sprucing and enhancing a room’s aesthetics.
And here they are:
1. Air purifying and filtering properties
Plants scrub contaminants from the air – it’s called phytoremediation and scientific study and research on this started with NASA’s study.
According to many of these studies, plants are able to remove toxins and pollutants in the air – up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOC) – most common of which are formaldehyde (found in common things like rugs and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (found on man-made fibers like solvents and paint).
Trapped air indoors produces these toxins and plants pull these contaminants into the soil, turning VOCs into their food. Every 12- to 24-hour cycle, your indoor plant babies are working to improve the air you breathe.
If you decide to get houseplants to freshen your indoor air naturally, there are several recommended species that are most effective for this task.
Photo source: Unsplash | Minh Pham. The snake plant (or mother-in-law’s tongue) with its sculptural, sword-shaped leaves that grow upright are often selected indoor plants because they are pretty to look at and very low maintenance, perfect for beginners. Best thing is these are natural air purifiers too.
2. Reduces stress, fatigue and anxiety
With the higher rates of burnout due to unending WFH situations, a little spot of green on your work desk might help lower those soaring levels of stress and anxiety.
According to some studies, having a small plant on your desk and taking a few minutes a day to tend to it when you’re starting to feel ‘fatigued’ will significantly decrease anxiety during this small timeframe.
Several researches also show the healthy restorative distraction that plant babies give from otherwise stressful and draining tasks. As plant-keeping boomed during the pandemic, this new hobby has shown to improve mental health. When you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment as you watch them grow and slowly form that bond, the positive benefits can be intensified.
Best thing about it, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to decorate your space and also give your wellbeing a boost especially in these trying times.
Photo source: Unsplash | Samule Sun
3. Boosts mood, concentration, productivity and creativity
Besides its calming effect, indoor plants (or better yet, spending a few minutes in nature) have a positive effect on people’s moods, memory, creativity and productivity. These magical little things can increase productivity in employees or help those with depressive disorders.
In fact, more and more innovative companies are starting to combine that modern, open office space with biophilic designs – infusing natural outdoor elements indoors.
“When I really need to think about something I’m struggling with, I get out in nature. We can do that now! It won’t feel like Silicon Valley at all.”
Immersing in nature may not always be feasible or practical, so the next best thing is to have indoor plants – bring the outdoors in and still enjoy the benefits of nature while at home or in the office.
Photo source: Unsplash | Andreas Dress
4. Makes a room more comfortable
Adding color and liveliness is one thing but plants can also change the physical environment of your room or space in ways you hardly realize.
If you have a big, sunny window, placing a big plant like an areca palm or fiddle leaf fig tree in front of it will serve as a lovely shade from the heat, not to mention that your indoor plant will thrive in that spot full of natural light.
Big houseplants can also be used to screen unattractive areas in a space or act as a divider for different areas in a big open layout.
Another amazing invisible power of plants is its ability to increase humidity levels in the areas around them. Plants release moisture vapor as part of their photosynthetic and respiratory process. Increasing humidity in a room can keep respiratory distresses at bay, especially during colder seasons when incidence of dry skin, colds, dry cough and sore throats may be higher.
Photo source: WeWork
5. Promotes faster healing and recovery
With people’s innate connection to nature and plants’ super powers, being surrounded with greenery can create a natural, living sanctuary where we feel more relaxed and safe.
According to a research at Kansas State University, hospitals saw speedy recovery rates from patients who have plants added to their rooms. They required less pain medication, had lower blood pressure and heart rates and also showed lower anxiety levels while recuperating.
Some plants even have physical healing benefits like aloe vera which can be used for small skin burns, cuts, irritations and infections. The bright orange color of the English Marigold is a delight but many claim that the dried flower can be rubbed on insect bites to reduce swelling and pain. There are many other healing plants you can surround yourself with for their physical beauty and psychological benefits.
Photo source: Unsplash | Alexandra Tran. Aloe vera is a friendly houseplant known to have skin healing properties and able to improve air quality so it is great to have around the house. Keep them in a sunny part of the room and they can grow into quite a medium sized plant.
6. Enhance therapeutic care
Along those same lines, caring for a plant can play a role in a person’s recovery process and also provide a sense of accomplishment as you see it grow.
When I first thought to adorn some corners of my room with indoor plants, it was purely to make my space look livelier, especially because of the extended lockdown periods. But as I saw those plant babies grow and I realized I had to take care of them, it gave me a tiny sense of achievement and excitement to see them grow.
There is something called horticulture therapy – a professional practice using nature-based interventions, plants and gardening, to improve a person’s mental and physical health. This recovery treatment plan is guided by a horticultural therapist who helps people make connections between gardening and their own experiences. This approach has been known to have psychological, physical and social benefits.
Photo source: The Sill | The heart-shaped philodendron – a trailing plant, perfect for upper shelves, that is one of the easiest houseplants to grow and also purifies the air.
7. Restful sleep and relaxation
Plants release oxygen during the day and while this process of photosynthesis may stop at night and do the reverse – release carbon dioxide – there are still some plants which continuously emit oxygen, making them perfect bedroom plants.
You breathe easier in the evening since these indoor babies will release a lot of oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Some common ones are snake plants, lavender, jasmine to name a few. There are several more bedroom plants you can explore, each with their own specialties.
Photo source: Unsplash | Devon Janse van Rensburg
So next time you’re thinking of giving your space a little makeover, you can start with the simple, easy step of putting some indoor plants.
Plants have the power to jazz up even the most boring corners of your space but knowing these additional benefits they bring is just amazing. This way, your space will not only look livelier, but it will make you feel good too.