Houseplants sitting on table

Feeling Stressed? Study Finds an Office Desk Houseplant Will Help Calm You Down

If you’re feeling stressed about life or politics, research finds that getting a houseplant for your office space is one of the easiest things you can do for relief.

In a December 2019 study published by the American Society for Horticultural Science, study author Masahiro Toyoda found that by having a houseplant around their office space, employees who tend to work inside most of the day found considerable stress relief from looking at their plant.

Participants were given a choice of six different plants, including foliage plants, echeveria, air plants, bonsai plants, kokedama, and the san pedro cactus. In all cases, they found a drop in anxiety levels by measuring employees pulse rates multiple times each day, including after taking three-minute breaks when they felt especially tired or stressed.

“At present, not so many people fully understand and utilize the benefit of stress recovery brought by plants in the workplace. To ameliorate such situations, we decided it essential to verify and provide scientific evidence for the stress restorative effect by nearby plants in a real office setting.” – Masahiro Toyoda

The study was broken up into three levels of engagement. In the first level, participants were asked to have a plant at their desk and simply passively observe it while they work. On the second level, participants were asked to take three-minute breaks to gaze at the plant when they felt stressed. At the third level, participants were asked to pick their favorite plant and to care for it and water it as well.

In all three experiments, employees had lower stress levels than those with no houseplants present. However, the study authors warn that if one is only passively observing the plant then the effects may diminish over time because its novelty will eventually ware off.

We now have an overwhelming amount of evidence showing us the psychological benefit of nature. Study after study has found that exposure to nature reduces stress, as well as anxiety and depression. In fact, the science has been so clear that even looking at photos of nature has been shown to reduce stress.

One study, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, found that a 90-minute walk in nature reduces activity in the part of the brain associated with rumination, a key factor in depression.

“This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation – something that may help explain how nature makes us feel better.” – Study Author Gregory Bratman

In a similar study also led by Bratman, exposure to nature was found to improve cognitive function and working memory, as well as to reduce anxiety.

Other exposures to nature, including herbal aromatherapy and “earthing” (walking outside with your shoes off) have been shown to reduce stress as well.

As humans are natural animals, it makes sense that we thrive in a natural environment. The frightening trend of urbanization is causing more and more people to live in heavily industrialized environments with little nature. Currently, over 50% of the world lives in urban areas, while by 2050 that number is to be at an estimated 70%.

We currently do not know the optimal level of nature that human beings thrive on, but we do know that our current level of exposure falls drastically short, and we’re moving further and further from where we want to be.

As current research shows, the more nature you can bring into your life, the healthier you will be. So next time you’re not sure what to do with your day, getting a houseplant for your office may be one of the best things you could do to make your future healthy and happy.

About the Author
Phillip Schneider is a student as well as a staff writer and assistant editor for Waking Times. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website, or follow him on the free speech social network Minds.

This article (Feeling Stressed? Study Finds an Office Desk Houseplant Will Help Calm You Down) originally appeared at and may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.

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