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7 Reasons to Become a Plant Parent (or Buy More Plant Babies!)

If you haven’t yet experienced the magical productivity powers of indoor plants, you’re missing out. Two weeks into Winter Quarter during my senior year at college, I was tired, needing at least two naps a day, and I could tell I wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I was frustrated, burnt out, my mind clouded. I needed a better space to do my homework outside of my small, messy, dark dorm bedroom that doesn’t get any sun when I’m home from class. So, I grabbed a folding chair and a blanket and sat in the middle of the living room, facing the window, where I have an nursery of succulents lining the windowsill in pots, coffee mugs, and decorated plastic cups.

Suddenly, I was able to knock out homework I hadn’t been able to get myself to do for days—why?

Studies from both the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and the Journal of Environmental Horiculture show that keeping plants in workspaces at home, school, and work increases concentration, attention, and thereby, productivity. And the benefits to becoming a plant parent don’t stop there. Plants and humans have a symbiotic relationship; humans give plants fresh soil, water, sunlight, and care. In return, plants give humans a variety of physiological and psychological benefits. Here are 7 reasons to grow plants in your home:

1. Plants transform any space into a joyful one

The other day, my friend and fellow SCAD student Mikayla was telling me how much she missed the plants in her apartment when her roommate took them home over break. “When the plants were gone, the house didn’t feel like a home,” she told me. When her roommate returned, the plants brought life, light, and happiness back to their “dull and empty” apartment.

2. Plants reduce physiological stress

Research by the Journal of Physiological Anthropology suggests that caring for indoor plants suppresses our sympathetic nervous system (which is associated with the fight or flight response) and lowers blood pressure, thereby reducing physiological stress.

3. Plants (and soil) clean the air in your home

NASA first researched phytoremediation in the 80s when they wanted to figure out how to better the air quality in spaceships. Since then, several studies have shown that plants actually clean the air we breathe of several contaminants, like CO2, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and even toxic chemicals.

4. Plants make your brain feel good (with hormones)

Plants filter CO2 from the air and release oxygen, so keeping them in your home can increase oxygen levels in the air you breathe. This, in turn, causes your brain to release oxytocin, which is the hormone associated with good feelings such as trust and empathy.

5. Plants can reduce pain and help you heal faster

A review of research by Texas A & M University revealed that using plants to decorate hospitals reduces the amount of pain medication a patient needs as well as how long they stay in the hospital. Plants in your own home can have the same effect.

6. Plants provide perspective

When you can take care of something smaller than yourself, like a plant for example, who only needs a little water and sunshine to perk up, you remind yourself that you are in control. It also shows you that your actions have a real impact when that plant grows a little taller and glows a little greener.

7. Taking care of a plant reminds you to take care of yourself

Plants have very similar needs to humans. When you water your plant, you might realize that you haven’t watered yourself enough, either. And if your blinds have been closed too long and your plant is looking droopy, maybe it’s time for you to get some sun and fresh air, too.

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