In a world full of horrible bosses and barely manageable work responsibilities, what if someone told you that a plant was all you needed to breathe easier throughout your workday?
In 2016, a report by Bloomberg said that people in South Africa are among the most stressed in the world. Another report by the World Health Organization revealed that the average adult spends one-third of his/her life at work and that almost half of all work-related illnesses are a result of stress, anxiety, burnout and depression.
Lastly, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) about one in four employees has been diagnosed with depression. What’s clear to see is that the workplace is not an easy one to navigate and can have a real mental and physical impact on one’s life.
Why should I get a plant?
Now, researchers from the University of Hyogo in Japan recently released a study that highlights the stress-easing benefits of having a plant at your desk. The study, published in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal, looked at the effects of indoor plants inside an actual office set-up and found that just gazing at a plant on your desk for three minutes improved one’s mental health state.
“This natural object incorporates elements that may induce comfortable feelings such as vitality, beauty, affection and so on, which is speculated to help get away from work-related thought,” the study says.
“Gazing at a plant creates separation from stressors and provides the participants opportunities to remove themselves from the strain of work if only for a few minutes each time.”
While other studies have shown the psychological and physiological effects of indoor plants, a lot of them have been done in labs and pseudo-office settings. This study, in particular, was done in a real office setting.
The participants of the study included 63 Japanese employees and they measured their pulse rates throughout the study.
“At present, not so many people fully understand and utilise the benefit of stress recovery brought by plants in the workplace,” lead author Dr. Masahiro Tooda, said in a statement.
“To ameliorate such situations, we decided it [was] essential to verify and provide scientific evidence for the stress restorative effect by nearby plants in a real office setting.”
What happens when it dies?
One troubling aspect of the study was that ‘an adverse influence on the participants’ state of mind could be caused by the deterioration of the plants.
In light of this, the study suggests three ways to move around this:
- Choose plants that can thrive in an office environment.
- Have substitutes/replacements ready or in mind already.
- Increase your cultivation knowledge to keep plants alive for as long as possible.
“Further research on various nature-based methods of stress reduction and the related effects on other workplace outcomes — such as attention capacity, task performance and productivity — is necessary,” the study concludes.
It’s definitely worth a try! Give it a go and let us know if having a plant on your desk had any positive impact on you.