With short days and long night upon us, many of us will start to feel the Winter Blues creeping in. The lack of daylight and the cold, means we spend a lot of time indoors in heated rooms and less time enjoying the great outdoors and fresh air.
This is where surrounding yourself with plants comes in handy. Plants are beautiful but their benefits go well beyond aesthetics.
NASA research as far back as the 1980s showed that plants can reduce levels of pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. These are found in a range of household items such as wallpaper, upholstery and cleaning products, so more time indoors means more time surrounded by these chemicals. Plants reduce the levels by breathing the toxins in alongside carbon dioxide, then releasing it back into the air in the form of oxygen. A breath of fresh air has always been the simplest way for a quick mood boost!
Humidity levels fall during winter months as we keep the heating on. The dry air can be detrimental to our skin and our eyes by drying the outer layers and causing discomfort. But low humidity levels can also be detrimental to our health - studies have shown that colds are more common in people who spend more time in dry rooms. Plants raise humidity levels as they release water through their leaves - the bigger the leaves the better the plant is at this. As colds have a detrimental effect on our moods, plants are a great way of staying happier.
A number of studies has shown that people are at their best when surrounded by nature. Even just the colour green can lift our spirits. It’s an innate need that we have to connect with nature. Merely sitting in a room with plants can improve our mood and positivity. But even beyond this, plants can reduce our cortisol levels, helping us relax. Studies have shown that reduction in stress hormones happens when people are in a room with plants even though the plants have not been brought to their attention.
Last but not least, the act of nurturing a living being brings us contentment. Taking care of a plant provokes an attention to the present, a ‘mindfulness’. It is grounding and brings us back to basics - a welcome respite from our tech-heavy lives. The act of nurturing something in turn forces us to nurture ourselves. Caring for a living thing gives us a purpose and hugely rewarding - especially when you see that living thing thrive.