Plants for Mental Health
When looking back at the most popular hobbies of the past 100 years in the US and the UK, you’re first guesses may be football,reading or perhaps more recently, television. But what if I told you that the most stable top 3 hobby of the century wasn’t any of these.
It is gardening! With all its numerous benefits of exercise, sunshine and fresh air, and of course, the harvest, you can understand why so many people love to exercise those green fingers!
But in our generation of high-rise apartments and densely populated city living, many people must pay a high price for even the smallest square foot of outdoor space. This hasn’t stopped the love of gardening however, as keeping houseplants of all shapes, sizes and rarities has become a huge trend in the past decade. This allows for anyone with even the tiniest kitchen window to get their hands in the soil and reap the wonderful benefits of the nation’s favourite pastime.
A study in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture showed that living or spending regular time in natural spaces as well as cultivated gardens can have a positive impact on almost all aspects of mental health.
One aspect most universally desired is the reduction of stress. Not only does spending time among plants and nature help recovery time from mental fatigue, but it lowers high blood pressure and slows down your heart rate, helping to reduce anxiety and panic attacks.
Similar effects are also found in those suffering with depression.
A Korean study found that CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) performed on patients whilst in a forest arboretum was upto 30% more effective than the same therapies offered in a hospital environment.
Improved concentration and memory retention also have huge boosts immediately after walking through forests, gardens and wooded areas. Supported by a journal that studied children with attention deficit disorders (ADD/ADHD) during scholastic tests.
Even NASA have done research into the health benefits of houseplants, with their Clean Air Study stating that many common houseplants provide a natural way of removing volatile pollutants from our environments, like Benzene and Formaldehyde. Even better, many of the plants tested in this study are available at your local garden centre or plant shop. The common Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’), the Pothos vine (Epipremnum aureum) and Aloe Vera (Aloe Vera) all rated as plants highly efficient at purifying the air around them.
With more and more studies coming out every year about the health benefits of keeping plants (either on a 40 acre farm or the dashboard of your Nissan Micra) we encourage you to find your green fingers too.