A bit of greenery in your home goes a long way.
Houseplants make any space look more stylish and homely, and they make you look like you definitely have your life together.
But, aside from making your living room 100% more Instagrammable, houseplants also provide some incredible benefits for your mental health.
In fact, experts say plants and gardening can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia.
‘Tapping into your creative energy can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and improve your overall mental and physical health. The average person has more than 6,000 thoughts per day, a creative activity such as gardening can help focus the mind by calming the brain and body,’ say Martin Preston, the founder of specialist rehab clinic Delamere Health.
‘Creativity goes beyond making you happy in the present. It is also an effective way to reduce the symptoms of dementia, improves memory and cognitive abilities.
‘Your memory begins to improve when you become more imaginative, so get creative with your indoor garden displays by adding colour, texture and decorative features.’
Scientific evidence suggests that working with nature reduces cortisol levels – a chemical our bodies produce in response to stress.
‘While being outdoors is beneficial for stress, your indoor green oasis also provides relief from stressors caused by day-to-day life,’ adds Martin.
He says nurturing plants and living things in your home can also help to give you a sense of purpose.
‘Having a growth mindset can be beneficial to our lives, as you begin to enjoy challenges, despite anxiety and nervousness,’ he says. ‘This is typical because we value growth and learning.’
Here, the experts at Delamere Health have shared the best houseplants to improve your mental health and reduce stress:
‘NASA found a Peace Lily to be one of the most effective plants at filtering harmful toxins and pollutants from the air. One of the main benefits it provides to human health is by combating toxic household chemicals, including benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide.
Peace Lilies also help to eliminate mould spores in the air.
‘Therefore, it will help to reduce symptoms associated with mould exposure, including eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, throat irritation and skin irritation.’
We all know that Aloe Vera is a hero of the anti-inflammatory world, and you have probably used it for healing wounds or things like sunburn, acne and eczema. But the plant also has air purifying qualities.
‘Research into the behaviour of nurses found that exposure to pollution raises the risk of anxiety symptoms, including fearfulness, desire for avoidance and tendency to worry.
‘The Aloe Vera plant also removes harmful chemicals from the air that can impact our respiratory system and trigger feelings of stress and unease.’
‘Snake Plants, in addition to adding a beautiful touch of green to your home, can help improve indoor air by absorbing airborne toxic pollutants, such as formaldehyde and toluene that impact your sleep, mood and energy levels.’
Snake Plants do really well in most homes because they love dry soil and don’t mind if you’re not the most diligent waterer.
‘It would be the perfect indoor decor option for any novice gardeners who want a plant that looks nice in their home and has a positive influence on their mental health at the same time.’
‘The calming scent of lavender makes it a perfect aromatherapy accompaniment. The fragrance from the plant is believed to promote a sense of calmness and tranquillity, with properties helping to reduce stress, anxiety and possibly even mild pain.
‘In fact, research into the behaviour of dental patients revealed that the lavender scent significantly reduces the anxiety levels of participants with phobias. The aroma of the plant created a natural sense of calm for patients waiting for treatment.’
‘You might think of rosemary as an outdoor herb that exists purely to add flavour to your food. But when you keep rosemary indoors, it can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood.’
Scientists actually discovered that just the smell of rosemary can improve cognitive function – which may help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Jasmine has been found to improve brain activity, induce sleep and help alleviate mental illness symptoms.
‘Studies have concluded that the plant’s scent has therapeutic benefits that can be used as a medicinal alternative for depression, stress, anxiety and insomnia.
‘The scent from the Jasmine plant directly impacts the brain’s central nervous system chemical known as GABA, which results in calming of the nerves, reducing anxiety and mild depression, and improving the quality of sleep in individuals.’
English Ivy is known for being easy to care for, but researchers say it is also a powerhouse for removing harmful toxins from the air in your home.
‘This plant is particularly beneficial for anyone with green thumbs looking to calm their allergies, particularly those suffering from asthma.
‘The English Ivy’s air purifying properties lower airborne mould from the home, and remove formaldehyde from the air, which helps to promote a good night’s sleep.
‘Research by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology revealed that the plant removes 94% of airborne faeces and 78% of airborne mould in just 12 hours.’
That has to be good news. The less airborne faeces, the better.
Chrysanthemum does more than just brighten your space. The plant’s properties can have a positive influence on your mood and mental wellbeing, too.
‘Like other flowers, the Chrysanthemum improves air quality, reducing ammonia, toluene, and formaldehyde.
‘Studies have shown that surrounding individuals with the flower can improve short term memory and overall mood.’
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