The next time you feel stressed out, anxiety-driven or uneasy, close your eyes and picture yourself standing in a room of plants. Imagine the tall dark green kind that seem to outgrow every corner placed in, the sort with pretty flowers that bloom only during spring season and the simple types that respond nicely to the habits of overwatering. The science behind the effects that plants play on the height of physical and emotional discomfort is magnificent.
History tells us that the incorporation of plants into a home was embodied only in a menage of luxury and wealth. The early Greeks and Romans were some of the first civilizations noted to bring potted plants inside the residence1. However, it was not really until the mid-19th-century that having plants inside a home was popular. The English and French fancied terracotta pots and little glass see-through cages for their exotic greens.
Certainly, in today’s age the intermixture of plants into a home, office space or building is seen at an array of calibers. Literature tells us that plants have therapeutic benefits on our well-being. Several studies came to the conclusion that in the presence of plants there is a decrease in sympathetic nervous system activity2. This complex system in the body is normally activated in response to stress leading to increased blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels.
In 2015, a crossover experimental study was performed, examining the physiological and psychological benefits with the utilization of indoor plants 2. The study design was centered around a small group of young adult males, who were separated into two groups. Each group was assigned a task to either solely work on a computer task or transplantation of an indoor plant. After each group performed their task, the groups then switched assignments and collected data. The blood pressure and heart rate readings of the plant transplantation group were significantly lower when compared to the computer task group.
Using this study, as an example, we can apply this concept to the everyday life to keep our blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels within a healthy range. This small step focusing on our well-being is paramount to physical health, but to physiologic health as well. The starting point for incorporating this to everyday life can be as simple as purchasing a small plant for your space. The counterargument may be that keeping a plant alive is so challenging! But there are several low-maintenance plants that can be purchased for a low price.
Take this as a challenge to purchase a small plant that can have a big impact on your health!
- Lee MS, Lee J, Park BJ, Miyazaki Y. Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study. J Physiol Anthropol. 2015;34(1):21. Published 2015 Apr 28. doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8