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Get Some Greenery: Boost Health & Happiness with Plants

by Carissa Andrews  -  March 26th, 2018

Photo Credit: by Carissa Andrews
Photo Credit: by Carissa Andrews

As we strive for balance and better health within our home and work environments, one of the simplest—and arguably biggest ways we can make a change is by adding more plants. Through the years, we’ve strayed away from our natural roots, and it’s resulted in plummeting health, skyrocketing stress levels, and a sterile environment that leaves us feeling blue and bored.

It doesn’t matter if you live in a skyscraper, or work in a basement, plants and flowers should be incorporated wherever they can be. From cut flowers, to potted plants in boxes or hanging baskets, or indoor gardens of all shapes and sizes, and even small potted trees—the variations are endless. We can’t always make drastic changes with our home or office space, but bringing nature is not only affordable, but it impacts us on more than just surface levels.

10 Ways Plants Make a Difference

At a certain point, we need to embrace the fact that we’re a part of nature—not above it, or beyond it. Without completely dropping out of society and becoming a recluse, we can get back to nature by deliberately choosing plants and flowers to brighten up our home and work environment. The benefits we see are almost immediate and include the following:

1.Stress reduction

There are a number of studies that have been done over the years that indicate office buildings and homes abundant with plants have the ability to reduce stress levels. In fact, a study conducted by Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University found a compelling link between productivity and lower stress levels. In her study, participants were not only less stressed and had much lower blood pressure levels, but 12% more productive than those in the study who had no plants.

2.Ward off illnesses

When plants are incorporated into the home or work environments, not only does it reduce stress levels, but it also reduces the number of colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats, flu-like symptoms, and fatigue typically experienced when plants aren’t present. Plants have been found to reduce airborne molds and bacteria in a room by 50-60%. This is huge for office buildings prone to “ sick building syndrome” – a dangerous and expensive liability that arises when toxins in the air become concentrated. Unfortunately, this problem is widespread with the newer, energy efficient buildings because they’re sealed so well, not allowing for an exchange of air to filter out the toxins properly. In fact, research done by Bio-Safe Incorporated suggested the air pollution inside these types of office and home structures can have up to 10x more air pollution than outside. With all this, it’s not surprising when the Agricultural University of Norway found sickness rates fell by more than 60% when offices incorporated plants into their spaces.

3.Boost healing

During those instances when sickness is inevitable, or happen to arise, bringing in flowers and plants are key to getting better faster. Recovery rates are sped up in hospital rooms and homes with plants and flowers, according to research done by Kansas State University. In addition, less pain medicine was found to be needed, blood pressure and heart rates were lower, and people are back to their daily lives much sooner.

4.Ideal humidity

One of the ways plants keep those coughs and colds at bay has to do with the moisture they release back into the air. Plants put back most of the water they receive right back into the air. The more plants you have in clusters around your home and office, the more effective the plants are at creating the optimal 30-60% humidity levels for humans—keeping respiratory issues, dry skin, colds, sore throats, and coughs at bay.

5.Breathe easier

Photosynthesis is a beautiful thing. Not only do plants absorb the carbon dioxide you release when you breathe and transform it back into oxygen, but they also remove toxins from the air. Getting some of these plants can be specifically spectacular for asthma sufferers. Depending on the plant, up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are removed every 24 hours. Plants purify the trapped air from modern buildings, trapping the contaminants in the soil, where microorganisms convert the VOCs into food for the plant. How’s that for recycling?

6.Diffuse noise

If you have a big family, or work in a busy office setting, sometimes noise pollution can be a struggle. It can be a distraction when you’re needing to focus and get work done, or if you simply want to unwind without having to listen to someone else’s YouTube video in the next room. Studies have found plants, and more specifically, their leaves, can diffuse and reflect noises away. In fact, strategically placed plants have been known to effectively reduce the noise levels by 5 decibels.

7.Sharper thinking

We could all use some extra focus without relying on caffeine. Studies have found rooms with greenery have increased attentiveness than those without. In fact, as much as a 70% increase has been seen by the Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England. In addition, being surrounded by plants increase not only concentration, but it increased memory retention up to 20% and overall productivity also rises.

8.Inspiration strikes

In addition to concentration, memory retention, and productivity increasing, plants also inspire creativity. A study done by Texas A&M concluded people were more innovative and creative with finding solutions to problems, as well as producing more ideas when they had an environment surrounded with greenery. The next time you’re struggling to be creative or need some inspiration, turn to your nearest houseplant and bring it a little closer.

9.Better sleep

Thanks to all the humidity and air-purifying capabilities of plants, they’re excellent for helping you relax and have a peaceful rest. Here’s the thing, however, most plants cease their photosynthesis at night and instead start absorbing oxygen and releasing CO2 the way we do. However, there are some pretty amazing plants that do the opposite at night and those are the ones you want to keep your eye out for. If you want a great night’s rest, have gerbera daisy, orchids, succulents, or epiphytic bromeliads in the bedroom and keep the oxygen levels at optimal levels.

10.Visually pleasant

Let’s face it, plants and flowers look nice. When we take in the appearance of a space filled with greenery, we automatically feel it’s more inviting and peaceful. This perception is powerful and can even help retain employees and enhance the attitudes of those in a workspace. In fact, negative work feelings were shown to be reduced by 30-60% when plants were abundant in their work environment.

Greenery Recommendations Around the Home & Office

There are plenty of plants that will flourish when strategically placed indoors. Be sure to keep these considerations in mind when choosing your indoor plants: location, lighting, and your goals for the plants (better sleep, air purification, etc.). Here are some of our recommendations:

o Aloe Vera (air purification)

o Bamboo Palm (air purification)

o Boston Fern (air purification, humidifies air)

o Chinese Evergreen (low light)

o Chrysanthemum (air purification)

o Dragon Tree (air purification)

o Epiphytic Bromeliads (nighttime oxygen-bedroom)

o Gerbera Daisy (nighttime oxygen-bedroom)

o Orchids (nighttime oxygen-bedroom)

o Parlor Palm (low light)

o Peace Lily (air purification)

o Philodendron (low light)

o Pothos (low light)

o Snake Plant (air purification)

o Spathiphyllum (low light)

o Spider plants (air purification)

o Succulents (nighttime oxygen-bedroom)

For those interested in growing edible plants or herbs, these are some of the ones that are best suited for indoors. Not only will you have some yummy edibles to enjoy, you’ll have some fresh-smelling scents purifying your space, too:

o Avocados

o Basil

o Bay leaves

o Carrots

o Chives

o Lemons

o Mandarin Oranges

o Oregano

o Parsley

o Rosemary

o Sage

o Tarragon

o Thyme

o Tomatoes

Having indoor plants and greenery is one of the simplest ways to increase wellbeing, health, and overall happiness when placed in the home and workspace. There are many different ways to incorporate them; from potted plants and hanging baskets, to indoor trees and gardens. To elevate moods and productivity, try adding some of your favorites to your home or office today.

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Carissa Andrews is a freelance writer, graphic designer, and author. You can learn more about her at her website.

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Disclaimer:

The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.
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