May is mental health awareness month, helping us fight stigma through education. This month is also great for intervention and support. This year has been extra stressful, which is why it is important to pay special attention to your mental health and to take time for yourself when needed. Exercise, therapy, and reaching out when needed are essential parts of fostering good mental health, but did you know that having plants can also help?
Just by owning and taking care of our plants, we can reduce our stress! A study of Japanese office workers showed that those who had a small plant on their work desk had significantly reduced stress after interacting with it. Another report showed that interacting with plants and gardening can reduce physiological and psychological stress. Yet another study showed that gardening correlates with the decrease of cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone! All of this means that just by caring for plants and having them in our space, we can help reduce stress and aid our mental health.
Plants can help us reduce stress in other ways. For example, there have been multiple studies (such as this one from 2017 and this one from 2015) showing that poor air quality can cause increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. Our plant friends can help us cheer us up when we interact with them and keep our air cleaner!
Some aromatics of flowers help us reduce stress too, such as Linalool. This natural component is found in many flowers and plants and is proven through studies to help reduce stress. You can commonly find this component in roses and lavender, helping to explain their calming properties often used in tea and aromatics.
With all of this great research on how adding flowers and greenery to our spaces isn’t only fun but a serious mental health boost, consider grabbing a plant or two! We have compiled a list here of some great options for you to start with:
- Rosemary is a beautifully fragrant plant that also is great to have around for cooking! This plant has Linalool in it, meaning the aromatics can help reduce stress. They are also easy to care for and safe for pets! Try the Tuscan Blue Rosemary, which has beautiful white or light blue flowers, or a green Rosemary Christmas Tree
- Snake plants have a beautiful, striking look with their vertical growing leaves. These plants don’t often flower, but in the ideal circumstances, they can every few years. They are well known for their air purification abilities, being listed as a top-performer in NASA’s Clean Air Study! There are many varieties of this plant to consider, like the Zeylanica Snake Plant and the Variegated Laurentii Snake Plant. They are super tough and hardy.
- Also known as the dragon tree, this beautiful tree can grow extremely tall if not trimmed! This plant also performed well in NASA’s Clean Air Study and is easy to care for.
- Looking for something to bring some color to your office? Kalanchoe are a type of succulent, making them easy to care for. Unlike most succulents, they bloom in beautiful colors such as reds, oranges, and yellows. They are the perfect way to add pops of color to a room without dealing with a high-maintenance flowering plant!
Written by: Hannah McWhorter