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Need a mental health boost? Get plants

Having plants in your home can reduce stress and anxiety, sharpen attention and increase happiness

SHARE Need a mental health boost? Get plants
One way to boost mental health, experts say, is by adding indoor plants to your environment.

One way to boost mental health, experts say, is by adding indoor plants to your environment.

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Life is hard and improving mental health takes time.

When l get stuck in a repetitive low day loop, and if feeling up for it, I try to watch videos and read articles about how to feel better. There are thousands of tips and tricks to help rewire your brain into changing your lifestyle, thoughts and actions. While I have progressed in mental health, it can be discouraging to feel improvement come slow.

Turns out, there might be a way to give yourself a little boost to help the progress: plants.

What health benefits do plants have?

While there are a lot of factors that go into improving mental health, including getting help from a professional, research finds that having one or more plants gives added benefits.

Reduces stress and anxiety

Dr. Charlie Hall, professor of international floriculture in the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences, found plants lower cortisol, the stress hormone. After reviewing multiple studies, stress reduction occurred when individuals lived near green areas, saw vegetation or spent time by nature.

Those in urban areas saw the most benefit. Individuals in offices and schools with plants also were reported to have less stress and anxiety than those without, according to his article published in Ellison Chair in International Floriculture.

To Texas A&M, Hall said, “It’s amazing that just having plants in your home can have such a measurable impact on stress reduction. Being in nature, going for walks in a park or going camping in a national forest provides an increased level of this impact, but we know that we can help reduce stress daily by bringing nature to us with plants in our home.”

Sharpens attention

In a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, elementary school students were grouped into classrooms featuring different elements: a fake plant, a real plant, a photo of a plant or no plant. Brain scans found those exposed to a genuine plant demonstrated enhancements in attention and concentration.

Further research, published in Sage Journals, indicated that children situated in classrooms adorned with a wall of green plants exhibited higher scores in tests assessing selective attention, meaning the ability to concentrate on a specific task while disregarding distracting information.

Increases healing rate

Another research review, published in Research Gate, found patients hospitals with a view of plants or trees was calming and showed improvements in healing. For example, pain medication intake and the length of the hospital stay was reduced compared to those without a view of nature. Furthermore, families of patients found increased satisfaction in healthcare providers when there were gardens or nature found within or surrounding the building.

Increases happiness and well-being

According to a study review published in the journal Sustainability, indoor plants can reduce negative feelings, relieve physical discomfort and boost positive emotions. Psychological perceptions had a positive increase when flower or foliage pots were placed within three meters of an occupant’s room.

How to get started with house plants

Not everyone can raise perfect, beautiful plants. Whether you are a first time plant parent, or a repeat plant killer, here are some plants to try and tips to follow.

Easy plants

My Domaine recommends plants that are “impossible to kill” and easy to take care of.

  • Snake plants.
  • Pilea peperomioides, also known as pancake or coin plants.
  • Pothos, nicknamed the cubicle plant.
  • Succulents.
  • ZZ plant or Zanzibar gem.
  • Spider plant.
  • Philodendron.
  • Money tree.
  • Bird’s nest fern.
  • Dieffenbachia, also known as dumb cane.

Tips

Each plant you get will have a recommended soil pH, water intake or amount of sunlight. With all of the different factors, it may be hard to tell what your plant needs. Follow these tips from Pro Flowers for help.

  • Feel the soil to know how much water is needed: If the first inch of the soil is dry, the plant might need water.
  • Aim for under watering plants instead of overwatering them: If you accidentally overwatered, repot the plant and remove unhealthy roots and soil.
  • Water more and less frequently instead of the opposite: Watering frequently and lightly only helps the top of the roots get the water.
  • Skip fertilization if you’re unsure about it: Different types of and too much fertilization may kill your plant.
  • Find the right placement: Picking a spot in your house were the temperature and sunlight stay the same can provide stability for the plant.
  • Prune plants: Getting rid of old growth can help your plants grow.