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Succulents for Success: The mental health benefits of houseplants

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Since the beginning of the pandemic, you may have seen an increase in the number of plants in your friend’s video backgrounds, or even found yourself with a large number of photosynthesizing pals. In times of stress, people are drawn to houseplants as a relatively inexpensive way to brighten up a room, but they have many other things to offer!

Benefits of Houseplants

There are many benefits to having plants in your home. Houseplants have been found to reduce anxiety and stress, even in an office environment. Additional studies have shown plants to improve concentration, memory, productivity, and creativity, as well as lowering blood pressure. Having them nearby can also improve attention span significantly, which is increasingly more beneficial since attention can be difficult to maintain while working online. Plants have a general mood-boosting effect, and taking care of them can provide a sense of purpose and boost self-esteem as well. Plants can also improve air quality, providing extra oxygen for increased brain function. One of our clinicians, Sarah Dubicki, is a shining example of these benefits. According to Sarah, "I started with one little succulent a few years ago and expanded from there. I have 50+ plants at home, and during quarantine grew sunflowers from seeds. I started them in my bedroom and transferred them outside in the late spring. It honestly boosted my mood to see them start as little sprouts and gave me something to look forward to every day. I do that with a lot of my plants, I propagate them and enjoy seeing them grow." Stephanie Sikma, our practice manager and another clinician, testified to the benefits discussed here as well, saying, "house plants have so many benefits for our physical and mental health. The act of nurturing a plant every day has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety, improve focus, elevate mood and reducing fatigue. Succulents in particular have the physical benefits of improving air quality, reducing carbon dioxide levels and removing toxins from the air. Some studies have also shown them to lower our response to pain stimuli."

Helpful and Easy-to-care-for plants

With all the benefits houseplants can bring, it can seem to be a daunting task to take care of them. If you aren’t known for your green thumb, don’t worry! There are many houseplants that are easy to maintain with little effort. One such plant is aloe vera, which is very hardy, purifies air well, and can be used to heal small skin problems and sunburn. Basil also has more benefits than its traditional use as a spice, because of its ability to produce large quantities of oxygen for 20 hours a day. Ferns and Bamboo palms are great humidifiers, which is especially beneficial during the winter, and English Ivy gets rid of mold, which can decrease symptoms of insomnia, irritability, and depression. Lavender is often prescribed by physicians for patients struggling with anxiety, and its scent is known for being cleansing and soothing. Like Basil, Rosemary is a wonderful herb that also purifies air very well. If you are fond of succulents, good news! They release oxygen throughout the night, which can improve the quality of sleep you get, and they are incredibly simple to care for.

Overall, houseplants can be very beneficial to your physical and mental health. However, if you are struggling with mental illness, you don’t have to work through it alone. Get in touch with Sarah, Stephanie, or one of our other clinicians here!

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