BRINGING THE OUTDOORS IN
You've no doubt heard about self-care — aka the foundation of contemporary wellness practices. But true self-care should be viewed as more than an occasional spa day or taking the chance to treat yourself. Instead, it should be an effort to incorporate wellness into all parts of your life, to support your physical and mental health by creating an environment where you thrive — especially in your home, the place where you spend much of your quality time. And plants can be part of that effort.
So what happens when you bring plants indoors? Can they have as much impact on your well-being as the plants outside your home? Studies show that introducing plants into your home is one of the best things you can do for your quality of life. The benefits of houseplants are as clear as the benefits of the great outdoors, and researchers have discovered a host of benefits associated with the practice of keeping indoor plants in homes.
For starters, there's evidence that plants can improve indoor air quality. Leafy foliage plants are especially effective at increasing the level of oxygen in built spaces, as their leaves suck up excess carbon dioxide and help regulate the room's humidity by circulating water through their roots.
Houseplants have been linked to a decrease in the outbreaks of "sick building syndrome," where people complained about the side effects of working in newly built spaces, absorbing the toxins released by off-gassing construction materials. Large numbers of indoor plants have also been found to help balance humidity in shared spaces while suppressing mold spores and other airborne microbes that may occur when using a humidifier.
Studies also suggest that having adding a plant or even a representation of nature to a sick room can dramatically increase patient healing rates and reduce the use of pain medication. As the Perlmutters state, "A simple potted plant can significantly change hospital outcomes." Patients who are exposed to greenery of any kind in their environment, including something as simple as a vase full of cut flowers in water, tend to have much better health outcomes than those who are in rooms without flowers or plants. It doesn't even have to be a living plant! Researchers have found that even an image of a plant, or a view out the window into a place where plants grow, can positively impact recovery time.
Furthermore, as the Perlmutters write in Brainwash, having indoor plants in your workspace can vastly improve worker productivity and the well-being of employees. In a number of studies, they explain, "Natural elements in the workplace served as predictors of overall better health (e.g., lower depression and anxiety) as well as job satisfaction." The research shows that the benefits of plants in the workplace are extensive. With so many of us working from home these days, houseplants are a critical tool for improving health outcomes and work performance.
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