I’m a little bit obsessed with the science of happiness right now as I am deep in final edits of Create Your Own Happy, the book I have written with Becky Goddard Hill. We found out so much about what makes people happy and all the activities we have outlined for children aged 7-11 are backed up and explained by science or research.
I spend a lot of time in and around nature, especially since we moved to the country and I do think its made a big difference. A quick burst of weeding, or deadheading roses or some pottering in the greenhouse can be the perfect break from working at home. Browsing through Two Wests or Grandad’s old plant encyclopaedia for ideas can be so relaxing and inspiring. It struck me though, the other day, after visiting my Dad who is a wonderful gardener, how I have spent so much time outdoors in nature and totally ignored houseplants.
I do regret that.
Before we had children I had 30 or more plants in the bay window of our first flat in Brighton, sadly they didn’t really survive so well in our less sunny flat in London and my new teaching career meant I gradually ran out of time to tend them. I do feel sad I let that greefingered part of me fall by the wayside, but so often life has other plans.
Time to make time.
To convince myself, I made a list of the reasons plants make us happier. I’m totally sold again now reading this!
- Plants do the opposite of what we do when we breathe, they release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This freshens up the air for us to get lungfuls of goodness, as plants also eliminate harmful toxins from the air.
2. Plants give us something to care for beyond ourselves. People who care for plants are more likely to care for others, so plants make us more compassionate and can improve our relationships too. Gardening together can bring families and generations together too.
3. Plants bring us closer to nature, which is amazing for our stress levels. Research into the Japanese art of Forest bathing has found that participants who walked in a forest had lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) afterwards than those who strolled through a city environment.
4. Plants help us to concentrate. Studies have also proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity – by up to 15 percent. Isn’t that amazing? So they could be money very well spent in an office or home office, or even in the room where homework has to happen.
5. Plants can reduce dust. One study found they did this by up to 20%. I think I’ve always been careful with houseplants as my husband has hay fever, but turns out the plants could have been making a real difference to his dust allergy.
I can’t wait to plan some into our space after writing this, do you have many plants in your home? Do you think they make a difference?