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Plants, Gardens, & Mental Health

What the studies show

It’s been a long two years that no one saw coming. We’ve all experienced major shifts in habits, daily life, and mental health awareness. What many people observed anecdotally in recent years has actually been the subject of many scientific studies: caring for plants is extremely good for your mental health and well-being, as well as tending to a garden.

Let’s take a look at some of the observations made regarding plants, gardens, and what they really do for your mental health.

Benefits of Plants On Our Mental Health

syngonium plant in front of laptop

Caring for Plants Can Improve Cognitive Function

A study by the University of Exeter found that offices filled with greenery improved productivity by 15%. Introducing plant life into the office environment also improved concentration, memory, and workplace satisfaction.

happy man watering garden in sunlight

Horticultural Therapy Helped Reduce Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Horticultural Therapy is “the engagement of a client in horticultural activities with a therapist to achieve treatment goals.” Findings from a study in 2020 show that therapeutic activities involving caring for plants and being around plants reduced the negative and dangerous symptoms of PTSD, ADHD, and other mental health disorders. 

Another study from 2015 found that indoor plants “reduced psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults.” Translated, this means that being around plants helped soothe the symptoms of anxiety, lowered elevated heart rates, and even reduced elevated blood pressure.

man boosting mood picking up plant in soil

Beneficial Microbes in Soil

Mycobacterium vaccae was found by the University of Colorado to have an active and beneficial role in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a critical neurotransmitter that promotes calm feelings and positive moods. Where were the beneficial and anti-inflammatory Mycobacterium vaccae found? In soil. This means that working with soil has the potential to help us improve our serotonin levels, boost our response to stress, and improve our emotional and mental health. 

This Eurpoean study found that children exposed to lots of environmental biodiversity and natural habitats (aka running around outside) were more likely to develop healthier defenses against allergens.

happy couple smiling in garden

Being Around Plants Improves Well-Being and Self Esteem

Texas A&M has performed extensive research on the benefits of plant life on our physical well-being. They’ve been able to connect plants to improved sleep, enhanced parasympathetic activity (calmer nervous system), longer life, better healing and rehabilitation, and better pain control. 

Texas A&M’s well-respected agricultural studies department has amassed an even longer list of recorded benefits from being surrounded by plants and nature.

gentleman examining plants with a smile

Caring for Plants Helps Speed Up Recovery From Mental Fatigue and Anxiety

Psychology Today has an article exploring all the ways gardening has been reported to improve mental health. Their thesis is that the physical activity of gardening and the tasks involved in taking care of plants have been known to help people work through stress and trauma. Those who care for plants must be mindful, practice acceptance, be constantly learning, and move on from perfectionism. 

A 2001 study published in the North American Journal of Psychology explored the effects of plants and performance, mood, and fatigue. They found that the biggest difference between a control group and a group surrounded by plants is that the plant group recovered from mental fatigue faster than the control group without plants in their room.

rendering of lungs made out of forest

Plants Provide Healthy Excersize and Cleaner Air.

NASA began studying how plants affect air quality because of their interest in how plants can help astronauts breathe recycled air that has been scrubbed and cleaned more effectively. In their work, they found that certain plants removed certain toxins including formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene. Peacy Lilies, Bamboo Palms, Ivy, Dracaenas, and Mums were found to be some of the most effective air cleaners. 

The physical movements involved with gardening can certainly be considered great exercise. From lifting soil and heavy plant material to raking and digging, gardeners are doing both cardio and strength training exercises. Exercise and movement are known to improve overall health as well as help stabilize mood and emotions.

Our conclusion: If you want to feel better, a few plants can help make the dreary winter feel just a little less dreary. Come in and let our team help match you to the plants that fit your lifestyle the best – we have something for everyone.

woman meditating by her houseplants

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