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How Houseplants and Flowers Can Improve Mental and Emotional Health

by Melissa Bell
6 minutes read

Decorating with plants and flowers is a lovely way to breathe life into your home decor. However, this classic decor element offers more than just a pop of color and the essence of nature; plants can improve your well-being. 

Scientists have long studied the relationship between people and plants. Here are some of the fascinating ways plants and flowers can improve mental and emotional health. 

Offset Seasonal Affective Disorder 

One of the most challenging aspects of the winter months is the lack of life and vitality outside. Everything starts to feel cold and bleak. In Northern climates, there are no leaves on the trees or flowers blooming in the garden. The stark surroundings and diminished daylight hours contribute to the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), colloquially known as seasonal depression. 

While SAD is more prominent in Northern locales, it can also affect people in sunny, temperate regions like California. Fortunately, flowers and houseplants are proven to offset the effects of depression and provide a much-needed mood boost during the winter months. The next time you’re feeling the winter blues, scheduling a flower delivery LA service could be the first step to feeling better. 

Aromatherapeutic Benefits 

Aromatherapy has long been used as a holistic health treatment for anxiety, depression, and stress management. Certain scents can impact energy levels and moods. 

Some of the best floral scents for offsetting stress and depression include: 

  • lavender 
  • lily 
  • honeysuckle 
  • sweet pea 
  • jasmine 

You can also benefit from the mood and energy-boosting scents of these blooms and plants: 

  • geranium 
  • rhododendron 
  • eucalyptus 
  • mint 

Consider planting an indoor herb garden or working through a rotation of fragrant flower displays to take advantage of the mood-boosting effects of floral scents. 

Provide a Sense of Responsibility  

One of the main reasons plants and pets are considered valuable assets in offsetting mental health disorders is that they provide a sense of responsibility. These are living things that you care for and must tend to, even on the worst days.  

Many Millennials have invested time and energy into gardening and caring for indoor plants to cultivate this sense of responsibility and to enjoy the tangible results of their efforts. There’s a sense of accomplishment in each new sprout or when comparing how much plants have grown over the years. This hobby is especially meaningful to those who aren’t ready for pets or kids or have a home in an urban setting. 

Responsibility and accomplishment go hand-in-hand. Caring for plants provides both, creating more confidence while improving emotional and mental health. 

Soothing Mindfulness Activity 

There’s power in spending time unplugged and engaging in a hobby that doesn’t require active thinking. Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation are powerful for improving mental health and well-being. Caring for plants provides the same type of flow to help disengage from the digital world and the perils of one’s own thoughts. 

To practice mindful plant care, leave your phone in another room and engage fully in your task. Take the time to water each plant, look it over for signs of change, prune leaves and blooms, deadhead, dust the leaves, add plant food, etc. This focus and flow can be powerful for combatting stress and re-orienting yourself after a long day. 

Improved Air Quality 

Air quality can have an interesting impact on one’s mental health and wellness. While we often focus on the physical implications of poor air quality, the American Psychological Association has recently uncovered research showing that it can also affect cognitive function and contribute to depression. 

Plants and flowers improve air quality by absorbing toxins and creating oxygen. While living, green plants are the best for this purpose, some blooming plants also have notable effects. Flowers like chrysanthemums, Peace Lilies, and bromeliads all positively impact air quality. Unfortunately, cut flowers don’t have the same effect. 

Adding a few indoor plants in key areas of the home can help you breathe a little easier. Keep a close eye on humidity levels, as too many plants in one area can increase humidity. If this is the case, you may have to separate your plants or adjust your HVAC settings accordingly.

plant flowers 2

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/cozy-room-with-armchair-and-cabinet-5997975/ 

Improve Creativity 

Art therapies have become more applicable in recent years as researchers identify their positive benefits on mental and emotional health. Flowers and plants help support art therapies by improving creativity and focus.  

A recent study by Texas A&M University highlighted that plants displayed in a workplace (like a home office or studio) could increase creativity by 15%. There are several theories as to why plants boost creativity. One idea surmises that it has to do with color stimulation, aromatherapy, and air quality.  

Other theories propose that this effect is related to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who felt more at ease and open to creative pursuits when plants were — the presence of plants indicated available food sources. The theory is that our ancestors felt more comfortable knowing they didn’t have to focus on survival, which gave them time for creative activities like dancing, storytelling, and making art.  

Reduce Noise Levels 

Displaying a large collection of plants can also help provide soundproofing and reduce echoes and intrusive noises. The leaves, soil, pots, and stems all provide a sound break from outdoor noises while minimizing sound travel inside. Many offices in urban areas are capitalizing on these effects by adding green roofs or living walls in spacious areas.  

Unwanted or intrusive sounds have a negative impact on mental health. This effect is also tied to our evolutionary roots, as loud, unexpected noises indicate danger. Scientists have discovered that increased exposure to noise pollution increases someone’s stress responsiveness. Unfortunately, our brains can’t tell the difference between an ancient predator dwelling outside our cave versus a busy construction site.  

Connected to the Biophilia Hypothesis 

Finally, our penchant for plants and flowers ties into our innate connection with nature. While people feel farther from nature than ever before, we are still a part of the natural world. The Biophilia Hypothesis discusses the innate connection between humans and nature and how it impacts our mental, physical, and emotional well-being.  

Studies have shown that people experience less stress, depression, and anxiety in natural settings. According to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. Displaying flowers and plants can help re-establish the connection with nature in our modern world. 

There are several benefits to decorating with plants and flowers. These are just a few interesting ways they impact our emotional and mental health. 

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