HOUSEPLANTS: GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH, NOT JUST FOR INSTAGRAM

Why spending half your paycheck at the garden centre shouldn’t ride too much on your guilty conscience.


By Anna Alford: Culture Columnist


If you are anything like me, you have probably had to admit to yourself that you have an unhealthy obsession with buying houseplants. You can’t even say the words ‘Chlorophytum comosum’ before all of your disposable income, and a bit more, has been spent on flora come pay day.

We live in an age where the terms millennial and Monstera adansonii have come to go hand in hand. But a room full of portable nature doesn’t just look pretty, and if you can make it last longer than the time it takes to post a picture of it on Instagram, it also has a multitude of physical health benefits. In uncertain times, splashing out on a plant, or ten, might be just what you need.

Whether your bedroom is an urban jungle, or you are the proud owner of a single succulent (which happens to still be alive even though you haven’t watered it since 2016), here are some of the reasons why investing in greenery can greatly benefit your body and brain.

Caring for plants as a form of self-care

Scientists have been advocating the mental health benefits of botanicals for years, and for good reason. Studies have time after time shown that they can help to reduce both physiological and psychological stress by acting as a distraction from the pressures of everyday life.

Tending to plants, even for a couple of minutes a day, obliges you to pause and centre your thoughts on a task that isn’t replying to your one-thousandth work email, or checking what an old friend from high school is up to on their heavily social media-shared holiday.

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You feel a sense of responsibility for your little plant family, which makes the gratification felt when one of them sprouts a new leaf one of the best feelings in the world; it brings a perfect new meaning to the phrase ‘it’s the little things’. One Australian study has even linked partaking in daily gardening to a lowered risk of dementia.

Plants literally keep you alive

Anyone who paid the slightest bit of attention in biology lessons knows that we owe our green-leaved friends a lot when it comes to being able to breath clean air. They are oxygen churning powerhouses that are pretty good at absorbing nasty toxins in order to purify our air. Toxins suchlike formaldehyde and benzene are found in everyday objects that at the very least can cause headaches and skin irritation. At worst, they can lead to more serious problems such as asthma and cancer. Plants with scented flowers such as Gardenia and Jasmine don’t only smell good, but can also aid a good night’s sleep. Peace Lilies are aptly named, helping to reduce anxiety levels.

Beauty can better your brain

It goes without saying that looking at aesthetically pleasing things makes humans happier. Surrounding yourself with indoor plants and brightly coloured flowers greatly increases firing in the reward centres of your brain, giving you the dopamine rush needed to significantly improve mood and productivity. Particularly important in times like these when most people are working from home, enclosed in the same four walls with a myriad of distractions.

So, whether you are already half-way to the shop to buy an entire nursery of Chinese Evergreens after reading this, or you are looking to settle for something more low maintenance like a cactus, remember to look after them in order to reap the benefits to help look after yourself.