Let’s face it: a home or workplace without plants is lifeless, both figuratively and almost literally. We live in an age where a lot of our time is now spent indoors, with our eyes glued to a screen. For adults, it is becoming increasingly common to spend between 8 and 10 hours a day viewing some form of technology, whether it be our computer screen, our phone, or the T.V. Needless to say, though this may be a requirement for many of us to complete our work or engage in forms of socialization or entertainment, studies continue to reveal the unquestionable benefits of being outdoors amongst nature and disengaging from technological input.
For many of us, however, this is easier said than done. Though workplace environments are beginning to change (Have you checked out Google headquarters?) as a more liberated and open atmosphere is ushered in, most businesses—especially in the corporate world—still maintain an environment that is often cold and enclosed. Moreover, many individuals in the workforce only have a short window of time after work to enjoy any leisurely outside activities, that is, if they are not having to rush home to prepare dinner or take care of their children.
Not surprisingly, the solution has become to rather bring the outdoors in, a trend that is being spearheaded by Millennials whose love of plants, indoor gardens, and jungle-like atmospheres is setting the pace for transforming indoor spaces.
Here are some of the health benefits of having plants indoors:
- CLEANER AIR
Many of our common household goods, including cleaning products, air fresheners, and a variety of others, release toxicities into the air upon use. Additionally, use of forced air in homes and businesses has contributed to “air-conditioning sickness,” a set of symptoms that is often alleviated when a person spends time in fresh air. The NASA Clean Air Study conducted in 1989 suggested that several indoor plants naturally remove toxins from indoor environments. Toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene (a compound often found in industrial solvents), were discovered to be safely and effectively removed from the air by certain plants, while greater amounts of oxygen were released as harmful levels of carbon dioxide were assimilated and transformed.
2. HAPPIER DISPOSITION
While psychological research claiming the various effects of colors upon human beings has become something of an anecdotal legend that often dismisses individual tastes and societal influences, there is no denying that colors do affect us in different ways. The color green, unsurprisingly associated with nature, has been found to have a calming, healing effect on those who view it. Having plants in the home or in the workplace can not only alleviate higher stress levels, they can also help regulate mood, putting you in a happier, brighter disposition.
3. INCREASED CREATIVITY & PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS
Much in the way that viewing the color green can put you in a better mood, seeing plants in your immediate environment has been shown to increase your ability to generate new ideas and concepts, and navigate more efficiently through problems. Texas A&M University conducted an 8-month study that placed participants in three different workplace environments (a. plant and flowers, b. abstract sculptures, and c. no embellishments) and asked them to complete a series of problem-solving tasks. The study concluded that an environment filled with plants and flowers was more likely to produce inventive and novel ways of thinking, with men producing up to 15% more ideas, and women producing up to 15% more creative solutions.
4. FASTER RATE OF HEALING
Many of us are aware of the healing benefits of using certain plants on or within our bodies (Aloe Vera so easily comes to mind); however, indoor plants do not always need to be turned into salves or herbal supplements in order to produce a healing effect. Kansas State University conducted a study to measure the assumed benefits of plants for those recovering from surgery, finding that patients whose rooms were enlivened by plants saw a positive increase in physiologic healing. These patients were found to have lower levels of blood pressure, with less pain, anxiety, and fatigue. The patients were also found to rate their rooms as more positive and their caretakers as efficient and satisfactory.
It is theorized that viewing houseplants allows us to consider not just nature itself, but the valleys, the mountains, and the rivers and lakes at large, making us feel less boxed in by our structural environment. The closed-in feeling we can unknowingly associate with our home or our workplace can easily be alleviated by the incorporation of a few houseplants. And even if you start off small and work your way up to the larger specimens, just remember that even one houseplant can make a significant impact on your well-being.