Try gardening to boost your mood!

Getting through the winter months may seem like a difficult task at times, with dry air and short days, but it is about to get better!

“Seasonal depression is a medical condition that affects more than half a million of Americans every winter.”

I bet you’ve heard of the “winter blues” before. I sure have, as many of the people I encounter every day have run away from the northern states for good or do so every winter (the so-called “snowbirds”). It is not only for the inconvenience of shoveling snow or physical problems that get worse in the cold.

Seasonal depression is a medical condition that affects more than half a million of Americans every winter. It seems to be related to the less availability of sunlight, which alters the mechanisms that regulate mood, sleep and hormones in our bodies, leading to tiredness, sadness, weight gain, lack of motivation, among other symptoms. As other types of depression, this disorder is treated by means of pharmacological and lifestyle therapies that are initiated and guided by medical professionals.

Recently, horticulture has been introduced as an activity that may be used as a form of therapy, as it has shown to provide a mindfulness experience to those who practice it. Think about it. From the task of checking every single plant to determine if they need watering, to the meticulousness of pruning, gardening requires a good amount of concentration, responsibility and dedication. It is an activity that provides with the rewarding experience of seeing the plant thrive. Is an activity that puts you closer to light and even outdoors. It gives you a boost of confidence as you admire the fruit of your efforts and you learn a new skill. It beautifies the space around you and purifies the air you breathe. And now, in the era of social media, it connects you with people who share the same interest. Sounds like an all-around fantastic mood booster, doesn’t it?

It does! And there has been a lot of research in this area.

“Nature contact and mood benefits: contact duration and mood type”

Let’s look for example at the study published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology “Nature contact and mood benefits: contact duration and mood type”. In this study, the researchers compared two group of students, one who sat in an urban park for just 5 minutes and another who sat in a windowless lab. The first group showed significant increases in positive emotions compared to the second group.

Another example was the 2014 study conducted in University of Exeter Medical School in England which found that moving to greener areas was an immediate mood booster. This was similarly proven in a study from Stanford University in which participants who walked for 90 minutes through a green park on campus, versus strolling next to a loud nearby highway, exhibited “quieter” brains and were less focused on negative aspects of their lives, compared to how they felt before the walk. This was also an almost immediate benefit of exposure to nature.

And the benefits go beyond mental health.

“greenspace exposure provides a wide range of health benefits…”

A study with the strongest level of evidence have been able to combine the findings of smaller research papers into a one, big conclusion: greenspace exposure provides a wide range of health benefits, with statistically significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, production of cortisol, development of diabetes and even a reduction in all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

There are also studies that show that having a plant in a room, whether it is at home, at work or even hospitals, improves stress, anxiety and even tolerance to pain. Even nature pictures promote short term memory, as concluded in a 2016 study which stated, “among a growing number of interventions, nature exposure offers a quick, inexpensive, and enjoyable means to provide a temporary boost in executive attention” in older population.

In a world that has become as fast-paced as ever, it is easy to miss the opportunity to receive all the benefits that nature has to offer. What all these studies prove, is that it doesn’t matter how little or how many plants you have around you. Even small doses of green will make you healthier, happier and more productive.

My invitation is to bring greenery into your home as the cold months approach. You may find that you outlook of live may improve significantly by caring for plants.

Need a mood booster? Stressed at work or school? We’ve got a simple, effective idea sure to help. Add some plants to your life! Plants are so much more than lovely to look at… they are therapeutic, can sharpen your focus and improve your mood.

LOWER ANXIETY

Ever wonder why people bring flowers and plants to hospital patients? Sure, plants absolutely brighten the environment, but they can also lower anxiety and improve feelings of well-being – which positively impacts your health. Research has proven rooms that overlook greenery, or that feature plants inside tend to be more cheerful and inviting. This can go a long way to improving feelings of depression. A positive mental state definitely speeds the healing process.

SHARPEN YOUR FOCUS

Stress and low attentiveness are common among office workers and students. Plant’s air filtering abilities can heighten focus. Having an environment with cleaner air allows for an increase in productivity.

BRIGHTEN YOUR MOOD

These days, we spend the bulk of our time working indoors. There is no interaction with nature. During the work week, we so seldom get the benefit of that more relaxed feeling that comes from being outside. Re-creating nature indoors – bringing some nature to us – can really help. Adding a bit of greenery on your desk can change your mood each time you glimpse it. It can add life to a colorless room and relax you.

Lavender, Aloe, English Ivy, Basil and Peace Lily are just some of the plants which have been scientifically proven to be mood enhancers. The scent of lavender is used to calm nerves, relieve headaches and treat depression. Aloe is thought to bring positive energy into your home. (And, of course, its topical benefits in treating skin irritations is well known.) NASA scientists have shown that English Ivy is the most effective air-filtering houseplant. The smell of Basil can reduce stress. The Peace Lily is another organic air purifier that also aids relaxation. And we’ve only just scratched the surface.

Doesn’t matter where you are, surrounding yourself with plants will beautify your world, and be beneficial for your health and well-being.
Hard to believe, but Summer is winding down.

We bet you’re already compiling lists of things you’ll need to take to school, whether you’re heading for a dorm or an apartment share. While gathering your gear, don’t forget to include a plant or two. They’ll beautify your space, help to cleanse dorm room air… and maybe even remind you of home. Get ready to take some notes: here are our top five “Dorm Friendly” picks.

  1. Aloe Vera. Paper cut, bug bite, sunburn – Aloe Vera is the recommended natural treatment for many skin irritants. You need only cut away the outer skin from a leaf, and rub the sap onto the affected area. Keep the plant in a bright spot and water when the soil is moderately dry. With just a bit of care, the Aloe Vera will offer up some very welcome TLC. (And who wouldn’t appreciate that when they’re away from home?)
  2. Snake Plant. We bet there was a Snake Plant in your bedroom at home, because Mom knows the plant is an effective air purifier. Keeping one in your dorm room is a smart way to cleanse the air. There are several different leaf varieties, each adds a unique look to dorm décor.
  3. Money Tree. Legend has it that a Money Tree brings good luck and helps remove stress. That’s quite the dynamic duo when you’ve got papers and exams to complete. Just keep the Tree in medium to bright light, and water regularly for evenly moist soil.
  4. Cacti. So many varieties! Just pick your favorite and place it in a special spot. You’ll get kudos for your green thumb, but truly, cacti need minimal care. A bit of water and bright light is all it takes to keep them happy.
  5.  ZZ Plant.This evergreen is “top of its class” for easy care. It will thrive in full to partial shade. It’s also drought resistant, (very forgiving should you forget to water regularly). An extremely effective air purifier, the ZZ Plant may even improve the quality of your sleep, as it constantly releases oxygen into the air.
Parents and Grandparents…here’s an idea. Plants get high marks as “Dorm-Warming” gifts. Choose your favorites and let us take it from there.

Now that you’ve unboxed the plant, it’s time to find a special spot to place it.

Time to style, accent existing décor and get inspired with plants. Change the way a room looks, transform it from bland to lively or create your own indoor jungle. The power of plants changes the mood and atmosphere of a room.

Create a Cozy & Comforting Environment in Your Home

When bringing houseplant(s) into your home, many considerations should be made ahead of time. Where should the plant be placed; will it have enough light? How tall should the plant be, or how wide? Which room would best accommodate the plant? Plants such as the Snake Plant, Aloe Vera or bamboo can create a lush bathroom space that is bright and cheery. Basil, cilantro, thyme and more herbs right in your kitchen windowsill, become easy to access when needed.

Bring the Feeling of Home to College

College can be tough at times with homesickness and stress; gifting a houseplant can make dorm life feel a little like home. Dorms and apartments are usually small, cramped and a little stuffy. A houseplant could purify the air and create a calming environment. It brings a great aesthetic for dorm rooms and apartments; cacti or succulents are low-maintenance plants that will survive even if it is sometimes forgotten. If these plants are placed in a well-lighted area they will thrive. Ferns are good natural humidifiers that can freshen a confined room. Other plants such as, the Snake Plant are very shapely and trendy, accenting the room and giving it a more modern feel.

Energize Your Workspace

Going into work and sitting in your office can be a bit stultifying at times. Adding style or a green touch into your office can improve productivity at work. Make work a more fun and comfortable environment, worth going to. Add some color into the office with the ZZ Plant. They are tolerant to low light and will grow even with little water. Bamboo is an easy to grow houseplant that doesn’t need much light, if the stems are submerged in water they can grow without soil.

No matter where you place your houseplant, it will change the room. Whether it may remove toxins from the air, add color to a bland room or bring your décor together, houseplants will always be a great addition.

ON TODAY’S AGENDA: ADDING A GORGEOUS PLANT TO YOUR OFFICE

Work can be so stressful. Perhaps your project list is packed, or deadlines loom large and you’re not sure you can get it all done.  While we can’t help with workload, we can help with improving your work space. Not only will a plant offer tranquil beauty to your office, they also bring a breath of fresh air (which could boost your productivity). Between work and home, average Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, where the amount of some pollutants can be two to five times higher than outside. Here are some top picks we know will “work” well at your office to add beauty and cleanse the air.

The Snake Plant is #1 on our list. There are many different varieties to choose from, including the popular Whale Fin or the Laurentii. The Snake Plant is incredibly low maintenance, and can thrive in a wide range of light conditions. It easily survives an irregular watering schedule, and excels as an effective air purifier.

The Money Tree could be a beautiful addition to your cubicle. Like the Snake Plant, the Money Tree is known for its ability to survive with minimal care and low light conditions. Many people believe the Money Tree brings good luck and fortune, which is why you’ll find it atop desks everywhere.

The Dracaena is our next suggestion. With its many colorful varieties, the Dracaena conjures up a tropical feel wherever you place it. The Dracaena is truly low maintenance, with high marks for air purification.

The Aloe Vera is a hardy choice, and thrives with very little care. Of course, its gel has been a used as a skin treatment for thousands of years. So, next time you get a paper cut, apply some to the wound for a speedy recovery.

The Peruvian Apple Cactus brings the feel of the desert to your office. You’ll find it to be a low maintenance gem that can grow to impressive heights and even produce flowers. It’s a new and notable choice for cacti lovers.

The Ponytail Palm is actually a succulent that stores water in its trunk. What that means for you is that it is relatively easy care. Its whimsical silhouette adds so much to an office scape.

After a challenging meeting, imagine walking back into your work space and pausing just a moment to appreciate the fresh, vital beauty of a plant. We think it’s a fabulous way to “dress” your office for success!