Mood swings, apathy, fatigue... Scientists say that feeling anxious at the change of seasons is normal - even if your favorite season has come. Moreover, during the post-pandemic period, the issue of mental health has become even more significant. It is estimated that about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms. But the good news is that psychological help is much closer than we thought. Common houseplants not only change your mood but even help with depression. In many health centers, doctors prescribe green therapy as well as medications.
Interacting with plants both indoors and outdoors is beneficial for physical and mental health. Spending time with little friends makes us feel much more natural, comfortable, and soothed. According to the crossover study, conducted in 2015 by Min-sun and Juyoung Lee, Bum-JiN Park from Korea, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki from Japan, interacting with plants decreases blood pressure and relaxes the sympathetic nervous system. If you are up to gardening, it is safe to say that you are constantly subjecting yourself to a kind of healing therapy. Caring for indoor flowers can help reduce anxiety and make you feel much better - so let’s discover all the details.
How green therapy works
Any activity related to plants can be considered green therapy. It does not matter whether you have spent the whole day in the garden or just sprayed your potted palm - both will fill with new energy. How about setting up a "home sanatorium" for yourself? Scientists have proven that potted flowers on the windowsill and caring for them improves your mental health.
According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, caring for potted plants promotes healing and reduces pain. The mental health impact is also impressive, with indoor flowers reducing stress, relieving anxiety, and increasing feelings of happiness.
Some hospitals even include houseplant care in their treatment programs. For example, NYU Langone Tisch has developed its horticultural therapy program and successfully applied it in practice.
How to "unlock" the miraculous properties of plants
A crucial point: indoor plants will show all their beneficial properties only if you take care of them. Lee Ann Starling, president of the American Horticultural Therapy Association, emphasizes that just looking at plants and admiring their beauty is only a small part of what they can give you. Water, bathe, make sure they get enough light... Start taking care of your flowers to get all the positive vibes from your hobby.
Don’t trust social media
Don't buy everything you see on social media. Often, the plants that you see in Instagram trends will not suit your living conditions. For example, orchids require a lot of light; if you have little of it in your house or windows facing north, they will slowly die. The same is with succulents: everyone thinks they are so stylish and so easy to care for. These plants are not as unpretentious as they seem: while they do not need so much watering as other species, they require a lot of light and warm temperatures. Some of them can feel bad when just being touched.
Thus, it is important not to follow the trends but to pay attention to numerous factors, including conditions and your lifestyle, before choosing a new green friend. While a well-groomed flower brings joy and improves mood, a withering plant will have the opposite effect. It can oppress and negatively affect individuals, scientists prove.
Reduced risk of diseases
Houseplants improve indoor comfort and reduce the risk of diseases. The relationship between indoor plants and mental health has been revealed in terms of accelerating the healing process of a sick patient. For example, a 2009 study found that patients in hospital wards with plants and flowers had lower blood pressure and higher pain tolerance than those in rooms without plants. This confirms the therapeutic value of the greenery.
Flowers also evoke positive emotions. For example, in a 2005 study, women who received peonies as a gift reported a more cheerful mood that lasted for three days! Elderly patients who received the gift of flowers also reported more positive spirits and improved episodic memory.
It is not necessary to give each other bouquets of peonies every day. Planting plants in your garden is enough to help create a more soothing environment.
Relief of stress and anxiety
When we admire plants indoors or outdoors, at that moment, we are freed from everyday worries and problems. This activity has a direct physical impact on our bodies - if you inhale the scent of peonies, your body's cortisol levels will drop. This explains the relaxed state that you experience after interacting with the greenery. As cortisol regulates the response to stress in the body, spending time with plants and flowers reduces anxiety and brings calmness.
Thus, consider planting as a serious hobby. Besides creating beauty around, spending leisure with little green friends can help relieve stress and improve your mental health state.