How house plants can ease anxiety and encourage happiness

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4-min read
Wellbeing: Houseplants can boost productivity and increase happiness, new research has revealed. (Getty Images)
House plants can improve wellbeing by boosting productivity and increasing happiness. (Getty Images)

While mental health problems can't be solved with an abundance of shrubbery, surrounding ourselves with indoor greenery can do wonders for our wellbeing day to day.

It seems likes of succulents and spider plants aren't just good for Instagram or for decoration purposes, but they can actually help to make us feel more productive, happier and less anxious too.

And more and more studies are proving it.

For example, in a previous study by TheJoyOfPlants.co.uk, more than half reported feeling more productive when surrounded by greenery and 60% claimed they felt happier in general.

Plus, more than two thirds said plants had a positive impact on their mental health.

James Wong, ethnobotanist, presenter and garden designer, explained being surrounded by plants helps people’s moods and wellbeing because the rich green of them can reduce stress levels and improve feelings of self-worth.

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Additionally, Wong said having a living thing to concentrate on and nurture also acts as a mindfulness exercise, which can further relieve feelings of tension and anxiety.

“As a botanist, I am fascinated by the growing body of scientific evidence which supports what this consumer research highlights - that being around plants can measurably improve both mental and physical health," he commented on the research, released in October.

“The effect of house plants seems to work on a number of inter-related levels and the best thing is that the only side effect of this therapy is having a beautiful home.”

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The survey of 2,000 adults also uncovered that the perfect working environment should include a selection of plants (40%), as well as bright colours (32%) and decorative stationery (27%).

More than half of those polled felt it was important to have greenery in their work space.

This was due to finding nature calming (62%) and having something to care for bringing a sense of satisfaction (44%).

Almost three quarters of adults had an average of five house plants in their home – a figure that is no doubt rising – with reasons including the greenery adding colour to the home and helping to improve the quality of indoor air.

A further 36% simply said plants brought them joy, while around a third (34%) found them therapeutic and a quarter said the presence of plants helped reduce their stress levels.

Some indoor plants are even treated as part of the family, with nearly a quarter (23%) of those polled admitting to trying to connect with nature by speaking to their house plants and a fifth putting music on for them.

Read more: Flowers: A surprisingly simple mental health superhero?

House plants make us happier, new research has revealed. (Getty Images)
House plants make us happier at home and at work. (Getty Images)

“The research stats prove what we’ve often thought - having plants in the home helps moods and productivity," a spokesperson for TheJoyOfPlants.co.uk said at the time.

“It’s no secret that being outdoors and surrounded by nature often helps improve mental health and decrease stress levels and it’s great to see that bringing the outdoors in has a similar effect.

“Particularly when working, which many of us have been doing from home the past year and a half, people clearly like to have a plant nearby, not only for productivity but also to boost their mood."

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Plants at work

Echoing the importance of greenery in a professional environment, another study by the University of Hyogo in Awaji, Japan, published in HortTechnology by the American Society for Horticultural Science proved the benefits of this too, with just the sight of plants enough to improve wellbeing.

The researchers investigated changes in psychological and physiological stress before and after placing a plant on worker's desks. Each participant picked one from a choice of air plants, bonsai plants, san pedro cactus, foliage plants, kokedama, or echeveria and put it near their PC or monitor or desk, with the effects analysed in varying ways.

The study found anxiety decreased significantly from pre- to post-intervention, and the results did not change when looking at the data within the various age groups of the workers or with different plant selections. The researchers suggested simply placing small plants within close sight contributed to psychological stress reduction in all areas, making the case for health benefits of employees and economical benefits of businesses.

Additional reporting SWNS.