Adopt a plant, calm your mind

From arugula to spinach, leafy greens in your diet boost your health. But there’s another way to add more plant power to your life: bring them off the plate and into the flowerpot.

Research shows adopting a houseplant has a myriad of mental health benefits. These include:

  • Pruning off stress, slowing a racing heart and easing tension.
  • Paring down the harms of our tech-heavy lives, from high blood pressure to digital eyestrain.
  • Nipping anxiety, depression and pain in the bud.
  • Allowing creativity, productivity and job satisfaction to bloom in adults. For kids, attention and concentration flourish in the presence of plants.

Over time, caring for plants can cultivate a deeper sense of happiness, improved self-esteem and life satisfaction.

Why Plants Soothe Us

Humans have an innate bond with nature. Wandering in forest preserves or simply gazing upon greenery calms and steadies your autonomic nervous system, which controls actions like your heartbeat and breathing. Even if just for a few moments, you’re transported away from the stresses of your day.

Having plants indoors brings the benefits to you. Fake foliage won’t cut it—studies have shown artificial flowers and plants don’t have the same effect. Choosing and nurturing your own plant seems to amplify the benefits.

Grow Your Indoor Garden

You don’t have to be a master gardener to parent a plant. Start with one that’s easy to care for. Aloe vera, snake or spider plants, golden pothos or peace lilies make good choices.

From there:

  • Use soil designed for potting and containers with drainage holes at the bottom. Leave about an inch between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot.
  • Position plants where there’s indirect light and a steady temperature. Steer clear of cold windowsills and blowing air from heating or cooling systems.
  • How often you water depends on the plant. But always start from the top and pour until all the soil’s moist and water begins to run down.

With a little basic care, your houseplants may soon have you seeing a rosier view.

 Sources: National Cancer Institute, Waukesha County, Eat Right, State of Connecticut, New York City Parks, United States Botanic Garden, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, HortTechnology, Clinical Medicine, Journal of Environmental Horticulture

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