According to a study published by the American Society for Horticultural Science in December of 2019, having plants around your home or office could reduce your stress levels. In the study, 63 office workers at an electric company in Japan were monitored during their day to day activities to test how their pulse rates were affected by plants.
The participants were instructed to take a 3-minute break while sitting at their desks when they felt tired, and the researchers compared pulse rates for two different groups, one who had plants in the office and took time to appreciate them, and another group who didn’t.
According to the study, “The ratio of the participants whose pulse rate lowered significantly after a 3-minute rest increased significantly during the intervention period (P < 0.05). Our study indicates that having opportunities to gaze intentionally at nearby plants on a daily basis in the work environment can reduce the psychological and physiological stress of office workers.”
Masahiro Toyoda, lead other of the study, believes that people are missing out on a vital connection to nature if they are stuck indoors all day without any type of natural element.
“At present, not so many people fully understand and utilize the benefit of stress recovery brought by plants in the workplace. To ameliorate such situations, we decided it essential to verify and provide scientific evidence for the stress restorative effect by nearby plants in a real office setting,” Toyoda said.
This is not the first study to show that having plants nearby on a regular basis can have a positive impact on mental health.
Another study, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, showed that taking walks in nature can significantly lower stress levels. The results of the study suggested that taking a walk in nature reduces activity in parts of the brain that are associated with ruminating on your problems
Gregory Bratman, the author of the study, believes that his findings demonstrate “the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation,” something that he believes “may help explain how nature makes us feel better.”
In Bratman’s study, participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness, when compared with those who walked through an urban environment. Bratman is also responsible for another study, which showed that exposure to nature improved working memory and other cognitive skills.
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