Saturday 10th, October is World Mental Health day so we want our first ever blog post on HOK to highlight the positive effects plants have on our mental health. UK wide annual surveys report “1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England” and “1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England” (McManus et al 2009 and 2016).
It’s common knowledge that nature has a positive effect on our mood by helping us to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. However when you live in a big city like London or NYC, there is limited access to the outdoors. Not only are we more stressed and overworked, many don’t have access to a garden. So how do we get our nature “shot”? Enter the humble houseplant which is not only a classic and timeless interior design staple that adds a natural element to our homes but it also has incredible health benefits.
PLANTS BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Indoor plants have been found to trigger the same chemical response in our brains (serotonin) that is triggered when we are happy. Research by Lee et al, (2015) found that active interaction (touching and smelling) with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress. Even more surprising is, even the potting soil has stress relieving benefits too. Research found the soil contains microbes nicknamed “outdoorphines” (M.Vaccae) which are natural antidepressants that boost the release of cytokines in our brains and in turn produce more serotonin.
PLANTS GIVE YOU CLEANER AIR
Living in a city like London means high levels of air pollution, however our homes are also high in pollutants from plastics, fabrics and chemicals which create VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and can cause headaches, asthma and respiratory illness. With winter meaning closed windows and stuffy quarters, indoor plants can help with this too. Research has found plants absorb pollutants through their roots and leaves. According to NASA, plants filter harmful pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the air. Moreover, research has found that rooms with houseplants contain up to 60% less airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without any greenery. While all plants have air-purifying qualities, the Dracaena, Bostern Fern, Snake Plant, Peace Lily, English Ivy and Spider plant are some of the best air-purifiers.
PLANTS IMPROVE COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE
Plants and flowers around your workspace can substantially improve cognitive skills and creative performance. A 2017 study reported a 26% boost in cognition and 30% fewer sickness related leave days. Additional research at Exeter University, found that indoor plants improve productivity, concentration and boost staff well-being by 47% at work. Further more, being around plants can also increase memory retention by up to 20%. So weather you are back in the office or working from home like many of us, adding some greenery to your office isn’t only great for your mental health but also improve your cognitive performance making you a better worker bee. So if you can’t get out in nature, bring nature indoors.
With so much scientific evidence suggesting how great indoor plants are for your well-being and home, here are our top suggestions.