Bettering Yourself

How Plants Help With Mental Health

Yes, they’re pretty. And yes, they’re nice gifts (men, ahem), but they’re a lot more than that. There are people who dedicate their lives to the biology, protection, and growth of plants. While you don’t have to be extreme, it’s important to understand their value and ultimately how plants help with mental health in your daily life.

plant shop
Plant Shop in San Diego, CA

Luscious emerald leaves of growth…okay, plants (call them what you will) are SO beneficial. We’ll plant some knowledge seeds on why they are important, the mental health benefits, and the top 5 house plants to have in your home!

*check out my plant service business if you’re located in San Diego, CA: Zen Plant Care

Why Are Plants Important?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the why as opposed to the what. The benefits of having house plants and outdoor arrangements are many, but this section is a quick scientific overview to understand the purpose of plants for us and the earth. So why do we need them?

Well, they:

  1. Absorb carbon dioxide (there’s too much of it right now) and release oxygen (what we use to breathe).
  2. Cool down the environment (especially good for cities).
  3. Are a food source for many species (including us – herbal tea, anyone?).
  4. Provide homes for critters and insects.

While you may not appreciate bugs, you can have a wide variety of indoor plants for making it easier to avoid insects. Beginner house plants have simple care, can adapt to busy schedules, and add beautiful texture to your living quarters.

How Plants Help With Mental Health

Plants are gorgeous and refreshing in a four-walled space; you’re bringing the natural world inside with you. How plants help with mental health is detailed in this short little story…

I was shopping with my friend in Target who was having a rough day. We suddenly came across a variety of succulents and orchids sitting pretty in their pots. Her face lit up and she trailed out of her sentence mid-conversation. We were heading toward the checkout but I saw her feet wander toward the plants. She looked back at me with a wide grin and said, “Oh my gosh, look at these beautiful little guys.”

I’ll leave you guessing whether she bought one or not, but although I never thought Target would have indoor plants, I realized no matter the place, people gravitate toward anything green, lush, and growing.

Do you do this, too?

Well, it’s because of our…

succulent arrangement
Succulent arrangement

Senses

Plants help us to utilize and heighten our senses. Our sight is pleased by natural, rich arrangements, our smell is soothed by earthly sweets, and our touch brings us a real connection with nature, back to our roots.

It’s easy to forget how important our five senses are, but plants help bring them out, which in turn assist our mental awareness. I wouldn’t recommend tasting plants unless you are equipped with herbal knowledge and experience…but the other four senses keep us mindful.

My friend was able to be fully aware of the greenery and instantly boost her mental health, whether she realized it at that moment or not.

Side happiness tip: don’t forget about sights and smells that bring you joy. It’s plants and eucalyptus for me, but what is it for you? Check out 5 healthy things to do today!

4 Health Benefits of Having Plants in Your House

Indoor plants can improve your health emotionally, mentally, and even physically! How plants help with mental health and beyond? We’ll start with 4 easy ways.

Boost mood and productivity levels

Attention! Good, now that I have it, that’s what real plants will do for you. Some mental health benefits of indoor plants include sharpening your attention, boosting your mood, and increasing productivity levels. MDPI conducted a study and it showed real plants improve concentration, especially in your workspace.

Clean the air

Plants eliminate harmful toxins like the CO2 you breathe in, and in an indoor space, it’s crucial to have good air circulation. In 1989 NASA wanted to create cleaner, better air circulation in their spacecraft. What did their studies reveal? Certain indoor plants purify in a small space, removing organic chemicals from indoor air. The more indoor plants crowded together, the cleaner the air, and the healthier your atmosphere is, the more these plants can help with mental health.

Give off a natural scent

Indoor plants give a refreshing, natural scent to the air which is perfect for when guests come over. The soil and organic properties emit an aroma of its earthly natural process. This also caters to our senses, mentioned above, and brings us into nature instead of a sterile environment.

A quick tip: if your roommates or kids aren’t the cleanest, just stick a strong-smelling, colorful plant in the middle of the room as a distraction or try making your house smell good with eco-friendly tricks.

Reduce stress

House plants also help reduce stress and ease the mind. This can be one of the most useful components of how plants help with mental health.

In the Journal of Psychology Anthropology, a study was conducted on a group of individuals who had to complete repotting a house plant and a computer task. After each, scientists measured their blood pressure and heart rate, both associated with stress factors. The conclusion? Repotting the plant reduced stress while the computer task increased it profoundly.

fiddle leaf fig - how plants help with mental health
Fiddle leaf fig (ficus)

Price

I want to add that house plants are fairly inexpensive. Small succulents, for example, start off at around $10, and I’ve found some for even less! Stores like Fred Myer has small to medium-sized succulents for up to $15. If you want a larger indoor plant such as a ficus, you will be looking at at least $20.

Affordable ways to improve your health are key to keeping a calm mind and stress levels low.

succulents on windowsill

Top Plants With Health Benefits

Depending on what type of indoor plant you’re looking for (color, size, benefits), you’re likely to find a plethora of great ones. I’ve found these top 5 plants to be some of the best when you group them together, and absorb their beauty.

  1. Peace Lily – a dramatic plant that “faints” when it needs water, it will clean the air and neutralize odors. It also produces lovely white flowers when healthy.
  2. Spider Plant – this house plant is one of the easiest to grow and looks like a spider reaching out of the pot. The spider plant will purify the air in your home and is relatively easy to take care of.
  3. Pothos Plant – twisting and beautiful in a hanging pot, this indoor plant should be set in front of a large window for indirect light for best results. Luckily, it doesn’t need much care.
  4. Aloe – mine is overflowing at the moment, but has been with me for over 3 years! With juicy, plump “branches”, this plant has healing properties such as its use in hand sanitizer, lotion, and more.
  5. ZZ Plant – this is an indoor plant that may remind you of a z in the way it is shaped. Super easy care with low light and low maintenance, it’s also one of the plants in NASA’s study for purifying indoor air.

These plants are some of the ones with easy care and health benefits. While these are the top five, there are a LOT more to consider for the benefits of having house plants!

Whether you’re a new plant lover or one who has been in the game for a while, there are more than a few health benefits of indoor plants to enjoy, especially in the mental health field. If the idea of taking care of something else in your busy schedule seems daunting, start with plants that are super easy to take care of! They will ease your conscience and brighten the room. 

Happy healthy planting!

plants on patio

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Claudia Grimm
Writer and nature lover, I'm a curious gal wanting to share what I've learned in personal and environmental growth. What have I realized the most? Small steps make big impacts!

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