Most of us know that social interaction is vital to a healthy lifestyle. As part of being human, we genuinely love connecting with other people. Without that connection, many of us would probably be pretty miserable. But something we might not realize is how important non-human interaction can be to our well-being and happiness. These interactions include connecting with plants, animals and nature.
Why do we need nature?
Just as we need other people, we are born with an innate love for the natural world. This idea is called biophilia. Biophilia means we are naturally wired to value all living things and to want to live in harmony with the environment. Unfortunately, our modern style of living doesn’t always make it easy for us to stay connected to nature. So we need to make an effort to create a healthy relationship with the natural world around us.
Now that the weather is cooling down, we'll likely spend more time inside our homes and won’t get the chance to experience nature as much as we’d like. And being cooped up inside can contribute to a dreadful case of the winter blues. So what can we do to avoid feeling this way? One way is to bring a bit of nature into your home!
How can you bring nature into your home?
Now, I don’t suggest rounding up a family of squirrels or hauling a bunch of evergreens to your house. But what about some houseplants? Bringing plants into your home is a great (and much easier) way to beat the winter blues. If it were up to me, I’d have a whole forest inside my house. But maybe this isn’t too realistic. So we can start small. Even a few plants can liven up your living space and put a smile on your face.
But don’t take my word for it. Many studies have shown that the health benefits of indoor plants are real and proven to exist. And horticultural therapy has been used for mental health since the early part of the century. The impressive list of benefits includes a boost to your physiological, cognitive, physical, and behavioral well-being. Let’s look deeper at some of the benefits that indoor plants provide.
Indoor Plants Reduce Stress
While we aim to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, stress is still unavoidable for most people. Luckily, a little bit of greenery can help. Houseplants are shown in research to be an effective way to lower stress levels. In fact, interacting with and caring for indoor plants calms the sympathetic nervous system and can even lower your blood pressure. Less worry equals better health! And it happens to be one of the cheaper and easier ways to reduce stress.
Indoor Plants Help You Concentrate
It’s been shown in research that indoor plants have the power to improve your focus and concentration. A small study was done in a classroom of students and compared a fake plant to the real thing. Turns out you’ll have to use the real thing to get this benefit because the imitation didn’t do the trick.
Indoor Plants Increase Your Productivity
You’ll not only have better focus, but this study says you will also be more productive in the presence of indoor plants. Working environments that don’t include greenery or at least a view of the outdoors tend to make people less satisfied with their jobs. Plants also boost morale and reduce the number of days people call out of work.
Indoor Plants Help Clean the Air
This one isn’t a slam dunk because studies have both proven and disproven the theory that indoor plants improve air quality. But I’m including it because they do have the potential to purify indoor toxins, even if some of the research says you would need a lot more than a few plants to see any benefits. At least we know plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, and that can’t be a bad thing, right? Houseplants that might be effective air purifiers include Boston ferns, rubber trees, spider plants and Ficus trees.
Indoor Plants Give Us Something To Nurture
Humans like to care for things because it makes us feel needed and valued. Indoor plants can be an excellent outlet for our nurturing nature. Not only that, plants give us something to do, which can help us relieve stress. In fact, the more we actively engage with our plants, the more benefits we get. So if you have a green thumb, starting an indoor garden is the best way to go.
Indoor Plants Are Aesthetically Pleasing
Physically interacting with nature gives us the biggest heealth boost, but we can’t disregard the positive effects of simply looking at plants. This study review found that visual contact with real flowers, plants and even wood promoted relaxation and calmness.
Which indoor plants are best for health and well-being?
You might be wondering which plants are best to have in your house to help you stay healthy. The following list includes plants that support your health in a variety of ways.
6 Indoor Plants for Your Health
This plant sounds like it might bite, but Sansevieria trifasciata (also known as “mother-in-law’s tongue”) is actually good for you. The popular sword-leafed succulent was included in a well-known Nasa study for its ability to remove toxins from the air. Place a few of these around your house, especially in the bedroom, because they do their best filtering at night. They prefer bright indirect light and warm temperatures.
Sun lovers everywhere worship this plant for the cooling jelly stored in its leaves. Having an aloe plant at home gives you an endless supply of this naturally healing humectant! Aloe is also great for soothing general skin irritation, managing acne, and reducing signs of aging. But its usefulness doesn’t stop there because aloe also has potential benefits internally. When prepared correctly, the leaves and gel can be eaten for certain digestive conditions, but check with your doctor first. The aloe vera plant is easy to take care of.
This violet flowering plant is famous for its soothing color and scent. As a houseplant, the scent alone will help to reduce stress and keep you calm and relaxed. You can place it in your bedroom for potentially better sleep too. It can also be used as an herb for flavoring in cooking or for its pleasing aroma in homemade bath products. Versatile and good-looking! Lavender likes to be kept in bright sunlight.
These exotic tropical flowers are simply stunning and they're beaming with symbolism. They represent thoughtfulness, purity, femininity, friendship, peace, love and so much more. Gazing at their beauty will arouse many happy feelings and easily elevate your mood. They’re also used in Chinese medicine as an herbal tea for many health purposes. Orchids like indirect light and don’t need much water.
Rosemary is most known as an herb for cooking, and having one of these plants in your home makes it convenient to use this way. But it also has a refershing aroma and unique look that will liven up your living space. It’s also been shown to boost memory and help you concentrate, so it might make a great home office pal. Rosemary like lots of sun and a little water.
This climbing plant, also called Hedera helix, looks fantastic in a hanging basket in your home. Its main benefit for your health is its ability to reduce levels of formaldehyde and other toxins in the air. It's also used as a supplement for medicinal purposes, but you wouldn’t want to ingest any part of the actual plant. English Ivy is an easy grower in indirect light.
Now’s the time to find ways to spruce up your home in ways that will help improve your mood and your health. Indoor plants can be great therapy for the winter blues, and are also valuable in other ways, like skin soothing and food flavoring. Getting outdoors might be challenging over the next few months, so bringing the outdoors in is the next best thing!