Why Indoor Plants Are Good for Your Mental Health 

A Healthier Michigan

| 3 min read

Portrait of a young African American woman watering plants and enjoying
Lots of us grew up with plants inside our house. They may have been arranged in pretty pots on a coffee table, or maybe it was a few fresh herbs growing on a sunny windowsill. Some people likely had trailing spider plants, which are easy to snip off a few pieces to give as gifts to family and friends.
But did you ever think about how indoor plants make you feel? How their texture, their smell or even just being surrounded by all that green can be good for your mental health? Indoor plants have lots of benefits for your brain. Let’s look at how they can make you feel better – and why.
Studies about how being out in nature makes people feel better have been done for decades. It’s how we know getting outside for a walk in fresh air is good for us, or how the newer trend of “forest-bathing” by spending time in the woods makes us feel more relaxed. A lot of the same things can be said for the benefits of having indoor plants.

Reduced stress

Spending time in a room with plants can make you feel calmer. So can time spent interacting with plants – watering them, misting them, repotting. Being around plants offers physical and psychological benefits, like:
  • Lowered stress
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Lowered blood pressure

A mental boost

Plants can also give us a shot of energy when we need it most. Research has shown that having indoor plants around can help reduce mental fatigue, whether it is at home or in the office.
Think of it as having something close by that can give you a fresh perspective on your day. Focusing on plants can help ease negative emotions and make people feel more refreshed.

A treat for the senses

We all know plants can be nice to look at. But they are also a treat for our other senses. Touching a plant’s leaves, feeling its texture, can make us feel better. Some indoor plants are also known for their fragrance, which can be soothing. Running your fingers through a potted lavender plant not only releases its signature scent, but the smell has a calming effect.

How to maximize the effect

While plants affect each person differently, some studies have shown there are ways to maximize the positive impact of indoor plants, according to research shared by The Washington Post. Some highlights include:
  • Surrounding yourself with five or more plants has the biggest impact.
  • The greener the plant’s color, the more of a mental effect it has.
  • Real plants impact people in a more positive way than artificial plants or photos of plants.
  • The closer the better. Placing plants within 10 feet of people has the biggest influence.

Beware of certain plants

A word of caution if you have plants around young children or pets: Some plant varieties can be dangerous if eaten. These include:
  • Aloe vera
  • Azalea
  • Chrysanthemums
  • English ivy
  • Jade
  • Lilies
  • Philodendron
  • Poinsettias

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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