Stress Solutions

Some Benefits of Keeping Indoor Plants Around

Nature walks and the beauty of nature have long been identified by philosophers and  researchers alike as a good method to reduce stress. So many of us do not live next to a  beautiful park or serene lake around which to walk or take a meditation break. The next best thing is keeping plants around your workplace.

Plants not only provide an oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, but also, they are natural things of  beauty. Plants capture the carbon dioxide in their environment and release oxygen into the  atmosphere. The process is called photosynthesis. The more carbon dioxide, the better the  plants thrive. A recent study indicates that as global warming increases, plants will actually take  in more carbon dioxide. Science backs up more benefits to keeping indoor plants around you. Indoor plants improve our mental health. And stress reduction just happens to be one of the  ways that indoor plants improve our mental health. Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor  Emeritus at the University of Vermont, has research that shows visual exposure (just seeing  plants) helps reduce stress in only five minutes.

An interesting study conducted at Washington State University (Lohr, et al. 1996. J. Environmental Horticulture) found that the presence of plants in a workplace helped reduce  stress levels of employees. The research was conducted in two computer labs, identical except for the plants present in one lab. The subjects in the lab with plants were 12% faster in reaction  time and their systolic blood pressure was lower (measure of stress). The subjects also reported feeling more attentive when surrounded by plants.

Plants in the same room while working increases a person’s ability to pay attention and stay  focused (J. Environmental Psychology). Flowers are even more impressive. Research at Rutgers  showed an immediate impact on happiness. One hundred percent of the people in the study  immediately responded with a smile.

Even more impressive is that a study published in 2010  that was performed in 101 Michigan high schools strongly supported the positive effects of  nature on students’ performance on standardized test scores. More students were planning to  attend college. The long-term implication for teachers is offer more lessons outside and keep plants in your classrooms. It will pay off in students grades and attention.

So, treat that forgotten Boston fern in the corner of your office or therapy room with a little  more respect! Plants are not just fluff for the decorator; having plants around us is improves  our lives in so many ways.

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