Green and Growing For Health & Well-Being
Now that the calendar says it is officially spring I know some of you are thinking about and planning outdoor activities and yard work to show off things you grow. Well green and growing is not just about outdoors, what’s inside counts for health and well-being too. Plants enrich our lives,” says Ari Novy, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. “In addition to providing the food we eat, clothes we wear and air we breathe, they also have profound and subtle impacts on our heath. Benefits of houseplants include reducing stress, purifying air, and improving memory and focus.
I’ve written earlier posts about stress and the importance of reducing it. By adding indoor plants to your household, you can lower the stress you may feel. Research studies have shown that the ability to see greenery in the indoor environment can reduce stress in minutes. A green plant in your sight line is a lot better for calming your stress level than soothing it with caffeine, food or alcohol.
During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen which can improve air quality. When photosynthesis stops at night, most plants flip the script, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. However there are a few plants that release oxygen at night which can aid in maintaining air quality, improving quality of sleep and reducing insomnia. Plants that have this characteristic include orchids, succulents such as aloe vera, jade or Christmas cactus plants, and bromeliads.
Indoor plants can help increase focus and creativity by allowing your directed attention to rest and renew. Consider that when you are out doors in the park, your senses are stimulated and engaged with the trees, leaves, or flowers. As these plants capture your attention effortlessly or via undirected attention, your directed attention which is used to focus on specific tasks is relaxed and resting. Bringing plants and flowers indoors duplicates the experience which allows directed attention to renew. Research studies show that tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding higher quality results.
In addition to the above, it has been noted that plants in the rooms of patients have had a beneficial affect on patient well-being and health. Researchers at Kansas State University found that patients in rooms with plants had a quicker recovery than those in rooms without them. In comparison to those in rooms sans plants, the patients with plants in their rooms were less fatigued and anxious, requested less pain medication, had lower heart rates and blood pressure, and were discharged from the hospital sooner.
There are a lot of benefits to adding green plants to your indoor furnishings. Plants are easy to locate, available in numerous varieties and an excellent value for the health benefits they provide. The biggest challenge may be choosing the best options for your location and lifestyle along the plant care spectrum. As a Floridian, my number one pick is the Peace Lily. The name says it all–it is calming and attractive when gazing at the white flower bursting from deep green foliage; you can’t help but think soothing thoughts.
Take Away: Add something green and growing to your home’s furnishing. The simple addition of houseplants will promote good health and the well-being lifestyle.