Mental Health at Work//

Microstep for Well-Being: 5 Reasons To Bring a Plant To Work

The science is in — we all need some more shrubbery in our lives.

Courtesy of B.Forenius/Shutterstock
Courtesy of B.Forenius/Shutterstock

Plants may be your green-thumbed coworker’s solution to a boring cubicle. But there’s evidence that suggests we all may want to get in on the perks of adding some green to our workspaces. Because, as it turns out, bringing a bit of greenery indoors can do great things for our well-being. Read on for five reasons you should get a plant for the office (and, no, not one involves doing it for the ’gram).

Plants may help you avoid taking a sick day

With all the harmful chemicals that may be floating around the office and leaving you a bit stuffy (no thanks to toxic cleaning products or synthetic carpeting), a desk plant may be the best air purifier around. According to research, plants can play a role in removing air pollutants, says Dak Kopec, Ph.D., a design and environmental psychologist. What’s more, “when we sit, our nose and mouth are roughly three feet from the ground, which contains air with more contamination than the air we breathe when we stand.” Perfectly-positioned desk plant to the rescue!

Plants may make you more alert and productive

Cleaner air isn’t just good for our health — it can also help keep us energized and happy while we work. “Plants bring in more oxygen molecules which decline in a building throughout the day,” says Kopec. “More oxygen can translate to being more alert, less agitated, and having greater levels of energy.” We’ll take it!

Plants can help reduce stress

Looking at a plant is good, but interacting with a plant may be better. As woo-woo as that sounds, hear us out: According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, touching and smelling plants or flowers can help alleviate physical and emotional symptoms of stress, decrease blood pressure, and prompt overall feelings of comfort and relaxation. It’s no surprise that certain doctors even prescribe plants for anxiety and depression. And if you can’t exactly manage a stroll through the botanical gardens during your lunch break, bringing a few plants to you may be the next best thing.

Plants can make you a better employee

According to a study conducted at Texas A&M University, employees’ abilities to produce innovative ideas, solve problems and work creatively are significantly higher in workplaces with indoor plants and flowers than in environments without the added greenery. As lead researchers Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., points out: This “could mean the difference between mild and great business success.” So really, getting a plant is not just good for you, but for the company at large.

Plants remind you to practice self-care

If you’re working on preventing burnout and taking Microsteps toward better self-care, buying a desk plant may be an impactful step toward your overall well-being. That’s because caring for a plant can be a reminder to care for yourself, Rebecca Ogle, LCSW and relationship expert, tells Thrive. “I once had a client who said she could tell when she was depressed because her plants looked thirsty. Her low motivation and difficulty concentrating while depressed would cause her to forget to water them.” And as soon as she realized her plants needed tending to, she’d be reminded to take better care of herself, too. 

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