How Indoor Gardening Can Help Stress Levels
Outdoor gardening has a strong reputation for relieving stress, but what about indoor gardening? If you live in a big city, chances are that you don’t have access to a garden, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the stress-busting benefits of succulents and other indoor plants. Here are some of the reasons why indoor gardening can help you stay focused and present, and some of the best plants for beginner indoor gardeners and experienced green thumbs alike.
How indoor gardening helps reduce stress
Just as with gardening outdoors, indoor gardening offers an opportunity to feel present and totally focused and immersed in the task at hand. Worries and anxieties fall away as you plan out your pots and planters, fill these with soil, sow your seeds and tend to your growing garden.
According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, indoor gardening can reduce physiological and psychological stress, in part by reducing activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Just by being around potting soil, touching and smelling it, your brain produces more serotonin, which can help lift your mood and lead to the “promotion of comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings.”
Simply putting a plant on your desk might also help improve your creativity, problem-solving skills, concentration, productivity, and emotional well-being! So, yes, ask your accountant about including your houseplants as a work expense.
Finally, there’s some evidence that just being close to plants can help you feel calmer and heal faster after injury. In one study, patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had lower stress, a more positive view of hospital staff and fellow patients, and had lower pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients in rooms without greenery. The results were so striking that the authors of the study, from Kansas State University, recommend indoor plants as a “non-invasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.
Other benefits of indoor gardening
Gardening is an especially useful outlet for any budding creativity that is feeling a bit constrained by the current climate. Whether you’re making macramé plant hangers, painting plain pots with intricate designs, arranging planters just how you want them, or creating a full-on wall hanging kitchen garden inside your kitchen, there’s plenty of scope for imagination.
Indoor gardening also has the more immediate benefit of improving indoor air quality. Plants take in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, which our bodies need to stay healthy and alert. Fresher indoor air helps us feel more energized, focused, and can help with sleep and stress.
Growing an indoor herb garden also gives you an opportunity to add nutrients to your diet and to have interesting culinary adventures. Try growing dill, parsley, basil, cilantro, mint, thyme, oregano, and more and get creative in how you use these in dishes and drinks. A refreshing lime and thyme lemonade is delicious in summer heat!
- Lee MS, Lee J, Park BJ, et al. Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study. J Physiol Anthropol. 2015; 34(1):21.
- Toyoda M, Yokota Y, Barnes M, et al. Potential of a Small Indoor Plant on the Desk for Reducing Office Workers’ Stress. HortTechnology, 2019; 30(1):55-63.
- Park SH, Mattson RH. Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery. J Altern Complement Med. 2009; 15(9):975-80.