Here’s How Indoor Plants Help Your Brain Health
There are very few things on earth as calming and rejuvenating as being surrounded by plants. Spending time in nature has been scientifically proven to benefit both mental and physical health, with numerous benefits for the brain alone.
Unfortunately, modern urban living is all about the concrete jungle. Which means unless we actively seek to spend a lot of time outdoors or have the time and resources for frequent vacations, many of us are heavily starved of greenery in our life. But that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on the numerous benefits plants and greenery hold for our brain health. Houseplants and indoor gardens aren’t only soothing but also have direct and tangible brain benefits as well. Here are a few reasons to invest in house plants.
Promotes blood circulation in the brain
Poor blood circulation and insufficient oxygen supply are among the primary causes of brain fatigue or ‘brain fog’. We feel exhausted and stressed all the time; the brain seems to simply refuse to function optimally. Circulation problems are also both the cause and symptom of chronic stress and anxiety. Anxiety, specifically, has been known to trigger blood vessel constriction which can worsen with poor oxygen supply.
Plants offer a simple but effective solution to this. Unlike humans, they breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. This means having plants in the room automatically increases the natural oxygen circulation and purifies the air. They can help with brain fog, and while plants can’t solve your stress-related issues, they certainly can offer some relief, potentially stopping them from worsening.
Boosts attention and memory
Several studies have established a direct link between the presence of plants to improved attention span and memory retention. People who worked with several plants in the room were able to work longer and with more precision, along with demonstrating a much better working memory. House plants in a room have been shown to increase memory retention and productivity by almost 20%.
The kind of work we perform today is highly complex and requires a lot of brainpower in comparison to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. We have to make use of direct attention, which is focused, labor-intensive, and can erode with time. The problem is our brain cannot sustain this level of focus for prolonged periods of time. When our brain is drained, we find we can’t filter out nearby distractions.
Nature and living things catch our attention in a different, much more organic way. While leaves rustling in the breeze may catch our attention, it doesn’t require willpower to stick to it. Gazing at a plant isn’t the same as intense concentration on a PowerPoint presentation. This natural shift in focus gives our directed focus a break, and having a plant by our work desk helps do that. Looking up from work to look at the plant, even for a few moments, can help keep our directed focus ready and replenished in the long-term.
Helps with screen fatigue
Much of our work is screen-based today, and that can severely affect our brain. The blue light of computer and phone screens are known to activate stress responses in our brain and body.
A lot of this problem can be undercut by simply putting a few plants near the workspace. Studies have shown that looking at the color green helps stabilize stress hormones, leading to a calmer brain. In addition, green is the most visible color during the day. Having plants nearby attracts our eye’s attention, drawing our vision away from our screens, allowing momentary reprieve from the harsher artificial light.
Multiple studies have shown that plants act as a natural happiness-booster, particularly flowering plants. Flowers have been found to promote the release of oxytocin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters associated with motivation, feeling of security, peace, and love. Being close to flowers lifts our mood and makes us feel happier without even trying.
When we have flowering plants in our home or office space, simply looking at the bright blooms can activate the reward cycle in your brain. This not only gives us a much-needed dose of positivity but provides a welcome break throughout a hectic day.
Gardening as therapy
Taking care of plants has direct benefits for individuals living with depression and anxiety-related mental health issues, as well as alleviating chronic stress symptoms. The act of nurturing a living thing is meditative, taking the focus off of the problems and issues that cause us stress. Further, being able to sustain a plant has tremendous positive effects on self-esteem and has been proven beneficial for people with self-image issues.
Plants liven up any space, be it a home or an office. They infuse vibrant color to our surroundings, improve the oxygen we breathe, all while rejuvenating and activating our minds. The therapeutic benefits of watching a plant grow and thrive reduces stress and anxiety, which further promotes increased attention span, focus, and productivity. In all, plants are not just good for the outdoors but have amazing benefits for us indoors as well.