It is generally believed that looking at nature has a positive influence on recovery from fatigue or stress. For many years this belief was unaccompanied by scientific proof.
However in recent years, the study of possible relations between the human and the natural environment gained popularity, and many researchers have provided scientific data in support of this belief.
There are two mainstreams of thought about the effects of nature on recovery from psychological problems. The first was offered by Kaplan who said that the presence of natural beauty enables one to rest.
The second theory was offered by Ulrich. According to him, recovery from psychological illnesses through the natural environment is one of the several patterns of spontaneous emotional responses of the human brain. Perception of these properties prompt a shift toward more positive emotional states and blocks negative emotions and thoughts.
Psychological benefits of keeping Indoor Plants
Below are some of the useful psychological benefits of keeping indoor plants.
Indoor plants Boost Immunity
Indoor plants help soothe people by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system. A study found that interacting with plants helps counter physiological and psychological stress that comes with interacting with technology.
Researchers at the University College London say that it is from direct contact with animals and plants ( particularly in the first months of life) that we derive macro-organisms, microorganisms, and microbiota that live on our skin and gut. These creatures have crucially co-evolved roles in the regulation of the human immune system.
Without plants, our susceptibility to allergies, autoimmunity and inflammatory bowel disease is very much increased.
Indoor plants help improve mood
It is interesting to note that the same organisms and processes that help our immune system and combat inflammations also modulate brain development, cognition, and mood.
A survey conducted at four San Francisco bay area hospitals found 79 percent of the patients felt calmed and relaxed after spending time around plants and greenery.
A 2007 study found that working with soil makes us happy. A bacterium in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae triggers the release of serotonin, which lifts the mood and reduces anxiety.
Hartig, mang, and Evans ( 1991) suggested positive benefits on mental fatigue from just a brief exposure to the natural environment. Hartig, et al (1996) showed that people evaluate their mood more positively when they saw slides of natural scenes than those of urban settings.
According to Dr. Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist, and author of Place Advantage: Applied psychology for interior architecture, Green leafy plants help boost mood and subjects get along with people more positively. People also feel well physically with plants near them
Indoor plants help fight against depression and stress.
Many studies found that proximity to green friends helps in sense of well being ( Ulrich 1979), stress recovery ( Ulrich and simons 1986) by giving good restorative time and thereby helps remove stress and worry. According to a study, having diverse plants increases well being of humans. The restorative value of nature, according to scientific American, might be because it takes our attention smoothly and chills us out rather than requiring intense focus and thoughts. Looking at plants encourages to live in the present moment.
Professor Graham Rook, who heads the university college London research group, says our evolutionary attachment to nature is what soothes us out. According to him, we have evolved as hunter-gatherers and being around greenery. There is a sense of attachment at the basic level.
He further states that, when the scenery from the window is not enough, people try to compensate for it. For example, they might do this by decorating the room with posters of natural scenes (Heerwagen and orians, 1986). Or they add foliage plants to improve the amenity of the indoor environment. This is a reflection of people’s need for the natural environment.
Indoor plants help fight loneliness by demanding attention. There is a constant living companion which needs care and that makes a positive impact on lonely people, especially the elderly.
In Fact, a study found that the risk of dementia in the elderly could be reduced if they took care of plants on a daily basis.
A study was done on the effect of plants on post-surgery patients. It was found that patients had lower systolic BP, lower ratings of fatigue, pain, and anxiety. It reduced stress and the patient felt more positive about the room and gave positive impressions about the hospital staff caring for the patient.
Ulrich (1984) reported that patients who could see or view nature through their windows recovered faster than those who could see only a brick building.
According to a Journal by American Society for Horticultural Science, indoor plants have a beneficial effect on psychophysiological stress, task, and symptoms of ill health
Indoor plants enhance creativity
Many research including this study found that being around green plants indoors whether in office or home, enhanced the creative potential of humans.
People in the office were found to be more creative, people in the classroom got enhanced visual creativity when around plants in their classroom when compared to people who had no plants in the classroom.
According to a study conducted by Shibata and Suzuki (2002), from a Japanese university, plants had a restorative effect on fatigue in task performance. The plants in front of the participant had the greatest effect
Kaplan in 1993, investigated the role of nature in the workplace environment. She found that it was beneficial for the workforce to see trees through the windows. In an indoor setting, windows provide contact with nature.
Being near Indoor potted plants helps people to de-stress and lead to an increase in Mental processing power which gets depleted after doing knowledge work
Indoor Plants reduced anxiety and fatigue
The research found that people were less nervous and anxious in offices when they were in the presence of indoor greenery or had a view of greens from the windows.
Mounting evidence indicates that when in natural environments, and even when viewing potted plants indoors, humans react positively leading to psychological well being.
Kondo and Toriyama (1989) found that seeing plants helps people recover from visual fatigue caused by the constant use of a visual display terminal (VDT).
Asaumi, et al (1995) found that not only did seeing plants during the VDT task helped reduce visual fatigue, but also seeing plants after the task helped them recover from visual fatigue.
Shibata and Suzuki (1991) found that plants had a greater stress-reducing effect during break time.
A study published in the Journal of physiological anthropology found the subjects more comfortable and relaxed when they were interacting with plants tending to plants needs indoors. The active interaction with indoor plants reduces physiological and psychological stress. Furthermore, diastolic blood pressure was significantly reduced.
They found that stress is reduced through suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure and promotion of comfortable soothing feeling.
Indoor plants help productivity
A study done by American society for horticultural science found that the effect of foliage made the subjects more clear-headed.
According to a 2014 study, people were 15% more productive when there were plants in their indoor workspaces. According to research, there was also job satisfaction, increased well being and improved creative task performance. ( Shibata and Suzuki 2002).
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health examined the effect of green or natural setting on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD). They found activities carried out in plant settings significantly reduced symptoms of ADHD.
The living space of modern people has shifted from outdoors to indoors. More than 85% of a person’s daily life is spent indoors.
Development in information technology has allowed people to connect and remain connected to the computer environment. However, this type of life causes a lot of stress such as technostress which is a modern disease of adaptation.
Also, the trend of living together has adapted to nuclear or solo living which can cause loneliness and depression, especially in elderly people along with other mental health issues.
To combat psychological problems, many studies and researches have been carried out and many are still underway to reduce the psychological stress with the help of plants.
It has been found that having indoor plants helps to relieve physiological stress and psychological symptoms.
These findings have important implications because the cardiovascular system can be damaged by overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system as a result of psychologically stressful environments and situations.
When it comes to how many numbers of indoor plants are required to achieve the benefits, experiment with one or two when you look off to any direction. If you feel the need for more, add them one by one. Usually, one or two plants in every direction you look off to are sufficient.
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