Emotional and Mental Health Benefits of Plants

in Why Plantscaping

Last month I highlighted the physical health benefits of live plants:  breathing Clean Air!

Those live plants just keep on giving – this month it’s emotional and mental health benefits.

The research is in, and WOW, is it compelling. 

There’s a “substantial body of peer-reviewed research on the health benefits of plants,” so begins Part 1 of a four-part series on the Green Plants for Green Buildings website.  You can see it all here, but trust me, it’s more than you want to read, and because CliffsNotes and I were good friends in high school, I can give you the skinny right here.

The emotional and mental health benefits of live plants were discussed in these categories:

1. Reduced anxiety and stress

Well of course, nobody’s dealing with any of that right now.  Truth is, time spent in natural settings, can help reduce mental fatigue recovery time and improve concentration levels.

Exposure to real plants resulted in lower levels of experienced stress. The research states natural scenes mediates negative effects of anxiety and you recover faster from the decrease of cognitive performance associated with stress.*

A desk with a view: Interior plants can lead to healthy, productive workplaces through enhanced attention capacity lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction from viewing plants.*

2. Attention Deficit Recovery

How did they know I have a problem with that?  We’re all familiar with the benefits of mini-breaks in our work.  “You aren’t,” you say?  Just walk away from the screen and refresh.  But if your mini-break includes scenes of plants and nature the benefits are multiplied.

Natural landscapes, such as parks, forests, beaches, and mountains reduce attention deficit. Taking micro-breaks to view nature can help with attention restoration.*

3. Decreased Depression

Being immersed in nature was used as an active component in a therapeutic horticulture intervention for clinical depression. Garden walking and reflective journaling decreased depression scores and showed increases in mood.*

There you go: if you’re feeling Blue, go take a walk in a Green garden.

4. Enhanced Memory Retention

Another study determined that people who went for a 50-minute walk in nature, compared to those who went for a similar length walk in an urban environment, experienced less anxiety and rumination, along with increased working memory performance.*

Are you seeing a pattern here?

5. Enhanced Production, Attention and Creativity

If you can see a 15 to 19 percent increase in worker productivity, simply by adding live plants to their workspace, would you consider that a big win?  Read on.

Visible greenery, both indoors and out reduces stress and increases the ability to concentrate. In one such concentration test, employees who had a view of plants completed the test 19% faster than employees in a room without a view of plants.*

In one study of offices in the Netherlands and Great Britain they experienced a 15% increase in worker productivity when plants were included in the office space.*

Biophilic workspaces (plants and people together), with views of nature and daylight lead to higher productivity and attention with employees.*

6. Physical Health and Vitality in the Workplace

Moisture released into the air by plants helped with a dry atmosphere, reducing headaches and improving concentration.  Workers in offices with poor views and light quality, used more sick leave hours and this effect contributes as much as 6.5% to sick leave use.*

All this and beauty too.

We know our plants are gorgeous.  We actually guarantee that!  But even more than their natural beauty, live plants are working hard to care for humans. 

* You can read the full article here: https://greenplantsforgreenbuildings.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Well-Being-of-Plants-PART1.pdf

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