Given we've just spent four weeks in isolation, and looks like we've got another four ahead of us, its understandable to be feeling a little stir-crazy, bored or even anxious.
So this week we thought it might be a good idea to talk about how plants can help reduce stress and offer a few techniques involving plants that we like to use to help us stay centred.
(Granted, this might be a little more, "do as I say, not as I do" post - but hey, we've got four weeks to get there!)
Most of us are aware of the many benefits of having plants in the home. To be honest, I'm surprised we haven't covered it already but hey, now is as good a time as any...
Plants Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Plant Life Balance points out that when you first start your plant fam, you shouldn't expect to see huge differences in your mood. But as you expand your collection and create a space full of variety (species and sizes), your sense of wellbeing will quickly improve.
Furthermore, one study also noted activities like potting plants up can help control stress and anxiety. Why? Because soil contains 'Outdoorphins'!
Ok so thats not the technical term, but basically soil contains a microbe called Mycobacterium vaccae (I'm going to stick with 'Outdoorphins') which actually acts as a natural antidepressant. Wonderful!
Plants Improve Air Quality
Going back to Plant Life Balance and their study with RMIT and the University of Melbourne, they found that in an average 4x5m space, having just one plant could improve the air quality by 25%. 5 plants will take that to 75% and having 10 plants in the same space you're talking 100% cleaner air. This is because plants can help remove airborne toxins like ash and dust, carbon monoxide and Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, such as the chemicals used in household products.
Some plants are better than others at doing this, but any plant will be better than having none!
Plants Improve Cognitive Behaviour
Ok so this is good to know considering so many of us are now working from home. Studies have shown that productivity and concentration can increase when you have indoor plants in your workspace. Even better - memory retention can improve by up to 20% so no more wandering into a room and forgetting what you came there for...
Techniques for reducing stress and anxiety (using plants)
Full disclosure: Plants aren't 100% necessary to reduce stress and anxiety, but given we know they help AND if you're reading this you probably have one or two around they home, you might as well use them! The following are just a few tips that I (try) to employ to keep me from going nuts at home.
1. Plants > Screen
This is a hard habit to break, but instead of grabbing your phone as soon as you wake up and looking at other people's plants on instagram, try doing something with your own plants. Leave the phone charging and have coffee with your Monstera, or check on that mealy bug you've been fending off that fiddle leaf.
Having a routine with your plants can be surprisingly cathartic. You've got watering day, leaf cleanday, feeding day, or just doing the rounds to keep any potential pest problems at bay.
3. Be Mindful (with Plants)
Try to take a few minutes each day to just be with your plants. Or a plant. Or one plant each day. Check out their foliage, notice any fenestrations or variegation, think about the leaf shape. Touch the leaves! Or poke a finger in the soil! The idea here is to stop thinking about everything else going on and just focus on one thing in the present. And don't freak out if you went from looking at an Calathea orbifolia to thinking about how many toilet rolls you have left - if this happens just take a breath and go back the plant. You'll find that it becomes easier to focus over time AND you'll get to really know your plants.
4. Exercise (with Plants)
Needs some dumbbells? Just put a hanger around a couple of similar sized pot plants and suddenly you've got yourself a home gym. Now start releasing those endorphins.
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