Horticultural Therapy: How Caring for Plants Helps you Care for Yourself
In recent years, indoor plant sales have boomed, thanks to millennials. And with 332 million more plants being sold in the UK in 2020 so far than in 2019, it seems like this market isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.
But, available for a few pounds from a variety of places, plants can’t really do that much, right? Wrong. Aside from making your home or workspace pretty, by looking after plants, you can allow them to look after you.
Although some people care for children or animals, caring for plants can also reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. And with new evidence that spending two hours per week in a green space can lift your mood, bringing the outdoors in — in the form of potted plants — can have a similar effect.
This is because, as Dr. Marie Fang explains, caring for plants gives you a sense of purpose. As your interactions keep this plant alive and to thrive, you become more aware of not only what you need to do to look after that plant, but the differences between different plants. For example, some plants need direct sunlight, whereas others grow best in indirect, low light. By learning their needs, Dr. Fang explains that you become ‘attuned’ to their needs; you learn that everyone is different and although you can place two people in the same environment, they will not react to it in the same way.
Some plants and herbs are also known for relieving stress and aid in reducing mental health symptoms, as the scents of lavender and peppermint can help to relax a busy brain after a big day. Spending time around plants has also been linked to reducing aggression, leading to a more peaceful and mindful way of life.
This becomes even more in light of the coronavirus pandemic, as with working from home looking like the new norm, letting your plants brighten your environment to promote positive moods, reduce stress, and increase productivity is beneficial to our virtual office spaces. Although adding some greenery to your space might not seem like a big step, a few plants may help keep you sane during any upcoming social distancing measures.
As well as mental health benefits, having indoor houseplants can also lead to physical health benefits. For example, the University of Norway found that due to the humidity released and toxins absorbed by plants, that cases of cold and flu within participants were 25% less than those without house plants.
Similarly, as more and more of us move into metropolitan areas each year, our pollution levels inside the home are creeping higher, which is linked to approximately 400 thousand deaths in Britain alone. Although this may seem overwhelming, one solution could be to own some indoor plants.
A study conducted by NASA suggests that having two plants in every 100 feet of space can help reduce toxin levels in the air, leading you to be and breathe happier. So by growing some purifying plants, such as peace lilies or spider plants, you will not only be helping your mind but your body too.
Written by Alison Irlam
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