Do you need some more green in your life?
One study published in the British medical journal Clinical Medicine points to the mental and physical health benefits of being around and caring for plants. More green in your life has been tied to reduced stress levels, lowered blood pressure and even less muscle tension.
“Researchers have been looking into psychological benefits of connecting with nature for years. It’s been shown to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anger,” says Dr. Munther Barakat, Director of Behavioral Health Therapy at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa, WI. “Adding an activity to such as gardening provides added benefits such as improving self-esteem. Physical activity adds obvious physical benefits, which in turn helps overall mental health.”
As temperatures drop, the days of gardening outside are mostly behind us. However, there are plenty of plants that thrive indoors and can help add a dose of green to your office, kitchen or living room.
“Try to be intentional in how you build outside time in your life. Take advantage of the spring and summer season,” Dr. Barakat says. “Try to create indoor greenery by placing plants in rooms you spend a lot of time in. Especially with many working virtually, it’s an opportunity to create an atmosphere in your workspace that promotes positive mental health.”
Before you pick out a plant for inside, there are a few questions to answer:
- How much sunlight is in the room where the plant will go? Many indoor plants vary in the amount of sunlight they need to thrive, from all-day direct sunlight to low, indirect light.
- Do you want a high- or low-maintenance plant? Some plants need to be watered or checked daily, while others like a money tree only need to be watered every 1-2 weeks.
- Does your plant need to be safe for pets or young children? If you have furry friends or little ones at home, make sure you pick a plant that is nontoxic and safe for them in case of any accidental ingestion.
Try starting out with just one or two easy-to-care for plants if you’re unsure. Common starter plants that are low-maintenance and non-toxic but will still green up your home include a succulent, money tree, Calathea rattlesnake plant, or a parlor palm.
About the Author
Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.