More time indoors, less time in the fresh air, and longer nights can easily lead to the winter blues, and unless the groundhog works some magic next week, we know we still have seven weeks of it to go. But even though winter is difficult, it doesn’t have to be depressing. In fact, taking care of houseplants helps improve our home environment and boosts our mental and physical health—here’s how!
Often, people in northern climates suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) during the winter. While researchers are still not certain what exactly causes it, it’s thought that lower levels of sunlight decrease the amount of vitamin D in our bodies, which lowers our mental energy, disrupts our sleep, and generally lowers our moods. Combined with more time spent inside, and lower levels of oxygen indoors, it’s easy to feel like hibernating until spring. But we don’t have to wait until then before we can start growing and enjoying plants!
Research shows that keeping houseplants helps both our mental and physical health. In particular, being around plants has a calming effect on our mood, lowers stress, and enhances productivity and creativity. We’ve all felt these changes when walking in a forest, and we can bring a piece of that inspiration into our homes by keeping more houseplants.
Scientists have also discovered that microbes in the soil help produce serotonin in our brain, and enhance the microbiome in our gut. Digging in the garden is the perfect way to breathe in those good microbes during the summer, and in the winter, we can receive a similar benefit by tending to houseplants.
Our well-being is connected to plants, we literally breathe in the oxygen that they exhale, and they breathe in the CO2 that we exhale. With our windows closed during the winter, we have even less oxygen coming in from outdoors.
When we grow plants inside, we reap the physical and mental benefits of enhanced oxygen and purer air. Houseplants also add humidity to our environment, which makes it easier to stay healthy, and keep viruses and colds at bay.
It’s not just the presence of plants, but the experience of tending them that also calms the mind. Watering plants offers a short break from our busy lives where we can enjoy a Zen moment of probing the soil, pouring the water, and dusting the leaves. Gardening has always been a favorite pastime for Monks, as it allows you to rest your mind by focusing your attention on the task at hand. Even a momentary break like this can clear away anxiety and bring us back into the present moment.
Besides the benefits mentioned above, houseplants also bring beauty to our homes, which is another way to improve our mental well-being. Both research and everyday experience show that people are much more at ease and happier in a beautiful environment. With colorful leaves, intriguing shapes, and lush foliage, it’s easy to see how houseplants make your homes more beautiful!
Most of the plants in Pennsylvania are slumbering in January, but our garden center is one place where you can come to breathe in the fresh air, admire green leaves, and enjoy the vibrancy of tropical plants. Here, you’ll find kindred spirits among the plants, along with other plant-lovers. If you don’t make at least one new human friend, you’re sure to make the acquaintance of a few plant pals, who’d be happy to come home with you to improve the environment of your house and well-being.
To find the next plant to improve your mental health, feel free to visit our garden center in Glenside, PA!