Can Having Indoor Plants Benefit Mental Health?

Thanks to modern innovation, we spend a lot of our time indoors. Whether we spend time inside due to pandemic restrictions, a job, or school, incorporating potted plants into our indoor living spaces can help benefit our mental health more than we might realize. 

Effects of Spending Time Inside

A study published by the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that “85% of a person’s daily life is spent indoors.” That means that the majority of your time working, sleeping, studying, and living will be spent inside of a building. While shelter and a safe environment are essential to finding wellness, it is important not to forget what spending too much time inside can cause. 

Spending an excessive amount of time indoors can cause:

  • A lack of Vitamin D: Without enough Vitamin D from the sun’s rays, you might feel depressed and lethargic. You can experience physical symptoms as well, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or muscle pain. 

  • Poor sleep schedule: Sunlight can help you regulate your sleep schedule. Without enough light exposure, you might find yourself having a hard time waking up in the mornings or falling asleep at night. 

  • Isolation: When you spend a lot of time in your house, you might find yourself avoiding going out or spending time with friends, or doing your favorite hobbies. 

  • Lack of stimulation: If you do not spend enough time outdoors or in nature, you might find yourself feeling understimulated or bored. 

Overall, spending most of your time indoors can lead to adverse mental and physical effects. While you might not be able to radically alter your lifestyle to spend more time outside, you can bring nature to you instead. 

Indoor Plants and Mental Health

Caring for indoor plants can positively benefit your life. The same study published by the Journal of Physiological Anthropology explored the effects of individuals who spent time transplanting a plant. The individuals tending the plants felt “comfortable, soothed, and natural” after spending time handling the transplanting task. In contrast, when the subjects of the study spent time on a computer task, they felt “uncomfortable, awakened, and artificial.”

Ultimately, caring for plants offers a natural task that lightens the mood and lifts the spirits. It can help give you a chance to practice mindfulness, allowing your hands to work while your mind is still. Other benefits of caring for indoor plants include:

  • Improved dexterity: Handling leaves, roots, and stems can help improve your dexterity and fine motor skills. 

  • Richer oxygen in your home: While all plants produce oxygen, some are especially good at purifying the air around them. 

  • Visible green space: Having indoor plants increases the “green” space in your home, calming your senses, giving you something aesthetically pleasing to look at, and relaxing your mind. 

  • A living purpose: Having a living thing to care for can help you give you purpose, allowing you to learn a new skill, practice it, and be proud of your efforts when your plant grows. 

  • Reduced stress: Tending to plants can reduce stress levels, invite peace into your life, and help bring you joy. 

Overall, mindfully placing plants and greenery into your indoor working or living space can help improve your mood and health. 

What Kind of Indoor Plants Should I Have? 

Generally, it does not matter what kind of plants you choose to place in your home. Rather, it is more important to have any plants than no plants at all. Depending on your energy level, budget, and plant experience, there are a variety of plants to choose from that can improve your environment. 

Some easy, low-maintenance plants to start with include: 

  • Snake plants: These plants can handle minimal light for those in apartments or basement dwellings

  • ZZ plants: Similar to snake plants, ZZ’s can tolerate minimal light and low humidity

  • Lucky Bamboo: These are popular office plants because they enjoy indoor temperatures and artificial lighting

  • Pothos: There are a wide variety of pothos plants; they grow quickly and are hard to kill

If you kill a plant or two when you are first starting out, that is okay. Plant maintenance takes time, practice, and experience to understand what each plant needs and whether they can thrive in your current environment. 

Do Fake Plants Work Too?

While any green space is better than no green space, artificial plants may not be as beneficial to your health. The study published by the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that real indoor plants were more effective at reducing stress and inducing positive moods than artificial plants. However, if you are not able to care for a plant, a fake plant can help simulate the same feelings as when you observe real plants. Ultimately, real plants will do more to improve your physical and mental health than fake plants will. 

You might find that you spend a majority of your time indoors at work, school, or home. Spending too much time inside can cause feelings of depression, boredom, and isolation. However, spending time caring for plants can help relieve stress, lighten your mood, and give you purpose. Incorporating potted plants into your indoor spaces can help provide you with physical and emotional benefits, resulting in greater overall wellness. Several studies have found that indoor plants can help improve your mental health. At SokyaHealth, we strongly value holistic approaches to mental health and understand that wellness is essential to the healing journey. We encourage natural approaches to depression and anxiety and can help you find the healing you seek. Our licensed therapists understand that you are a unique person with personalized needs and tailor your treatment to you as an individual. For more information on our services, call SokyaHealth at (877) 840-6956 today. 

More than 50% of Americans struggle with mental health.

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