Have you ever wondered why spending time in nature or surrounded by plants makes you feel so good? It turns out there is scientific evidence to support the mood-boosting properties of plants. This article will delve into the scientific research behind mood-boosting plants, exploring the benefits they offer and the evidence that supports their impact on our mental well-being.
So, let’s dig deep into the world of plants and uncover the scientific evidence behind their mood-enhancing properties.
The Power of Plants
Plants have long been associated with feelings of calmness, relaxation, and overall well-being. But what does the science say about their impact on mood?
Multiple studies have shown that spending time in natural settings, surrounded by plant life and other forms of natural beauty, has a positive effect on mood. One such study found that being in nature helped speed up the recovery from mental fatigue, reduced heart rate, decreased high blood pressure, and lowered anxiety levels [^1].
In addition to the calming effects of nature, research has shown that houseplants specifically can have significant mood-boosting benefits. Studies conducted by NASA suggest that indoor plants have the ability to remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours, leading to improved air quality and a healthier environment [^2]. This clean air can contribute to a more relaxed and calm atmosphere, promoting better mental well-being.
Benefits of Indoor Plants
Caring for indoor plants can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. It provides individuals with a sense of purpose and accomplishment as they nurture and care for the plants. Seeing the plants thrive can be rewarding and help with feelings of loneliness and depression [^3].
Certain plants, such as orchids, succulents, snake plants, and bromeliads, are known to emit oxygen at night, making them suitable for the bedroom and promoting better sleep [^3]. Creating a peaceful and calm environment in the bedroom can have a significant impact on mood and overall well-being.
Indoor plants also offer numerous benefits in the workplace. Research conducted by the University of Hyogo in Japan found that having plants in the office reduced psychological and physiological stress among office workers [^4]. Participants in the study reported a decrease in anxiety levels after being exposed to plants. This suggests that placing small plants within close sight contributed to psychological stress reduction universally.
The presence of plants in the workplace can also enhance productivity and concentration. Studies have shown that having a view of nature, both indoors and outside windows, enhances productivity, alertness, attentiveness, and relaxation [^7]. Additionally, physical symptoms of allergies and asthma are reduced in natural settings. So, having plants in the office can not only improve mood but also contribute to a healthier and more productive work environment.
The Impact of Plants during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on our mental health. However, research has shown that indoor green plants can help relieve mental stress during prolonged stressful periods like the pandemic. Several studies conducted during this time found that indoor green plants reduced perceived stress levels and elicited positive emotions [^6]. The growth status of the indoor green plants also affected the plant effect, suggesting that the presence of healthy plants is crucial for their mood-boosting benefits.
These findings suggest that incorporating indoor green plants into our living and working environments can not only help us cope with stress but also promote positive emotions, contributing to better mental well-being during challenging times.
Medicinal Plants and Mood
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, plants also have therapeutic properties. Various clinical trials have explored the effects of medicinal plants on mood, specifically in the treatment of depression. A systematic review of clinical trials found that several medicinal plants, including saffron, turmeric, St. John’s wort, ginkgo, kava, and golden root, have shown potential in treating depressive symptoms [^9]. While more research is needed to establish their clinical efficacy, these findings provide hope for alternative treatments for depression.
Essential Oils and Mood
Essential oils derived from plants have gained popularity for their potential mood-enhancing effects. Research has shown that certain essential oils can have positive effects on mood and mental well-being. For example, lavender essential oil has been found to reduce anxiety symptoms and promote relaxation [^8]. Aromatherapy using essential oils has also been shown to improve pain management, relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and enhance cognitive functioning [^8].
While these studies focus on essential oils rather than the plants themselves, they highlight the potential of plant-derived substances to positively impact mood and mental health.
The scientific evidence behind mood-boosting plants is compelling. Spending time in nature and surrounding ourselves with plants can have a profound impact on our mental well-being. The physiological and psychological benefits of plants on reducing stress, improving air quality, and promoting relaxation are well-documented.
Whether it’s through their aesthetic appeal, clean air production, or the act of nurturing and caring for them, plants offer a multitude of benefits for our mental health. Incorporating plants into our living and working environments can provide a sense of calm, reduce stress levels, enhance productivity, and promote overall well-being.
So, why not bring a little greenery into your life and experience the mood-boosting power of plants for yourself?
[^1]: Interaction with Indoor Plants May Reduce Psychological and Physiological Stress by Suppressing Autonomic Nervous System Activity in Young Adults: A Randomized Crossover Study. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4419447/
[^2]: Houseplants Can Instantly Improve Your Health and Happiness. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/indoor-plants-can-instantly-boost-your-health-happiness-ncna781806
[^3]: How Houseplants Can Boost Your Mood. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/06/06/how-houseplants-can-boost-your-mood/
[^4]: Plants Can Improve Your Work Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200102184829.htm
[^6]: Effect of Green Plants on Individuals’ Mental Stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Preliminary Study. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9602469/
[^8]: Therapeutic Effect and Mechanisms of Essential Oils in Mood Disorders: Interaction between the Nervous and Respiratory Systems. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8125361/
[^9]: The Effects of Lemon Balm on Depression and Anxiety in Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34449930/