Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
8 Benefits Of House Plants Helping Your Mental Health
Published Aug 18th, 2020 & updated on May 22nd, 2021
As you look around at your house plants, you may have two questions. What are the mental health benefits of house plants? And, how many plants are too many?
You’re right! You can have a fern, 7 succulents, a couple of African violets, some ivy, a snake plant – the more the merrier! The limit does not exist when the benefits of plants are so plentiful.
Everyone knows you take care of your plant babies. I mean, you talk about them 24/7, you post pictures of them on your Instagram story, and you talk to them more often than you talk to your friends (cough cough, Covid-19).
But did you know that your plants also take care of you? Oh yeah. Prepare your bank account because we have a feeling you might be adding a few members to your ever-growing plant family.
Say aloe to this list of emotional, physical, and mental health benefits that plants can bring to your life.
1. Plants Increase Your Productivity
Even if this was the only thing on the list, we’d still buy 742 plants. Productivity can be hard to come by these days, thanks in large part to the Covid-19 pandemic. Working from home, our desks have never looked less appealing.
Plants can spruce up any workspace (pun intended) and give it a fresh new look. Redecorating your workspace can provide the boost of motivation you need to crush your to-do list. You’ll look forward to sitting down just so you can be in the company of your adorable plant, which will lead to more time spent working. That’s a win-win.
The presence of plants has also been linked to longer attention spans. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, “indoor plants in an office can prevent fatigue during attention demanding work”.
Say no more.
2. Plants Reduce Your Stress
As we mention in our Ultimate Stress Management List, taking a break is a great way to clear your mind and reduce stress. Since your break should be spent doing something unrelated to work, what better time to take care of your plants?? Caring for your plants is the perfect way to get your mind off of your exam or project deadline, while still benefiting your health. The better you take care of your plant, the better it can take care of you. Being around plants also mimics being outside in nature, which can make you feel more calm and less stressed.
In case you need more convincing, a 2015 study examined the physiological responses to two common tasks – working on a word document and tending to a plant – and found vast differences. While working with plants, people felt comfortable, soothed, and natural as opposed to uncomfortable, awakened, and unnatural after the computing task. The takeaway?
“[The] results suggest that active interaction with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress compared with mental work. This is accomplished through suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure and promotion of comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings.” – Min-sun Lee, Juyoung Lee, Bum-Jin Park, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki
3. Plants Increase Air Quality
Even though you probably weren’t paying much attention in middle school science, you probably know that plants produce oxygen. If you were really a keener, you probably know that they also take in the carbon dioxide that we just won’t stop producing.
But did you know that they take in benzene, formaldehyde, and other harmful toxins, too? These toxins are present in many interior spaces, which is slightly concerning considering we spend the majority of our time inside. Ok plants, we see you.
So, next time someone is complaining that you have too many plants, what they should really be saying is “thank you”. Your selfless little plant babies are providing cleaner air for them to breathe, which has, you know, a few health benefits. No big deal.
4. Plants Provide A Sense Of Accomplishment
Your Fiddle Leaf Fig is THRIVING, and you could not be more proud. She’s shining in the golden sunlight and after admiring her for a minute, you grab your phone to snap some pictures. Your Instagram followers will be amazed. All the worried google searches and sleepless nights were worth it. Your baby is all grown up. You’re so happy you could cry.
What a beautiful moment. But seriously, taking care of plants is hard work. You’ll feel such a sense of pride knowing your dedication, knowledge, and care, is paying off. Every time you walk by your plant, it will be a reminder of how all your hard work has led to a happy, healthy plant. That makes a happy, healthy person.
5. Plants Improve Your Mental Health
Plants have so many benefits for mental health that we might not even be able to name them all.
According to Susan McQuillan of Psychology Today, plants reduce symptoms of depression, PTSD, ADD, ADHD, and dementia. If that wasn’t enough, they also improve self-esteem, creativity, memory retention, and overall quality of life. Plants remind us of nature, which can create a beneficial calming effect as well. Basically, plants can do everything.
Plants also make the perfect journaling companions. They’re supportive, non-judgemental, and they provide clean air that powers your brain and body. Whether you’re celebrating an accomplishment or working through a rough day, journaling is just way more fun with the company of your plant babies.
Journaling is also more fun with the help of DiveThru – a guided journaling app that helps you dive thru what you go thru. Created with the help of mental health professionals, DiveThru has over 1000 journaling exercises on a range of topics including relationships, personal development, and the coronavirus pandemic. Oh yeah, it’s also free to download.
With DiveThru and your plants by your side, you’ll be unstoppable.
6. Plants Improve Your Office Space
Plants are helpful in all interior spaces, but they are particularly helpful in office spaces, which have a tendency to resemble concrete boxes. They provide a sliver of privacy so, although your boss is looking over your shoulder figuratively, they won’t actually be looking over your shoulder all day.
They also reduce office noise, including that of Linda and Joan, who are always chit-chatting away (much to the dismay of everyone else in the building). Plants are not the heroes we deserve, but the heroes we need.
Honestly, plants also just make it much more enjoyable to come to work. Instead of staring at a blank grey wall every day, you get to watch your orchid as it grows a little baby flower. You can then proceed to take photos and post them on Instagram and brag about Sheila the Orchid in the lunchroom.
7. Plants Promote Healing
A study out of Kansas State University found that flowering plants speed post-surgery recovery. According to the research, hospital patients with plants in their rooms demonstrated lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as fewer instances of anxiety and fatigue. So not only do plants improve mental health, but they can have legitimate benefits for physical health and healing, too.
8. Plants Remind Us To Take Care Of Ourselves
When you’re feeling good, chances are you’re taking good care of your plants. But if you notice your plants starting to look a little wilted, it could be an indication that you’re feeling run-down, too.
Looks like we’re not so different from our plants after all. We’re both out here living our best lives, doing what we can to survive each day. We rely on each other and become stronger together.
Just think, if your plant can bring you that much happiness, you have the ability to do the same for the plants and the people in your life.