Enjoy The Great Outdoors — From The Comfort Of Your Living Room
You don’t have to be a botanist to know that there exists an ever-expanding body of scientific evidence on the powerful and positive impact that just being around plants can have on one’s mental and physical well-being.
From helping to mitigate pain and anxiety, to shortening hospital stays, spending time amongst nature is an important yet-oft neglected therapeutic tool.
However, in the face of a lockdown that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere fast, fleeing our homes in search of forests or even country parks can seem pretty impossible. Especially for city mice for whom spending time in the great outdoors might only amount to staring at the single, lonesome tree outside your window for an hour. So here are few simples to take advantage of the benefits of the great outdoors, without ever having to leave your home.
1. Tend To A Window Box — And It’ll Tend To You.
It’s a good thing you don’t even really to be physically outdoors to experience the positive health outcomes associated with green spaces. An earlier study, in example, assessed the recovery rates of patients undergoing gall bladder surgery in hospital. It compared those who were in beds with a green view from their window to patients whose beds looked out onto a brick wall. The results were conclusive: the group with a green view did a whole lot better than their walled in counterparts, with benefits including a reduction in signs of anxiety and stress by as much as 80%.
One of the quickest, cheapest ways to do this is with window boxes. You can stick them inside your window with a trough of tough, hardy cacti and succulents, or outside on the ledge with some bright flowers.
There’s more to be said for the benefits of being in nature than just visual stimuli — it’s got as much to do with what you can see as it does with what you can smell and taste and feel. It’s multi-sensorial. In example, we know that lots of plant scents, such as lavender, have been repeatedly shown to have a positive impact on health, reducing both “subjectively reported feelings”, like stress, and objectively measured ones, like blood pressure. Lavender also happens to be one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain in a window box or on a patio!
2. Scrub The Air With Houseplants
One of the many chemical compounds we come into contact with every day is formaldehyde (the culprit is our synthetic furniture) which can irritate the extremely sensitive mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat, and also cause rashes.
Indoor plants will scrub the air clean, ridding it of volatile and harmful organic compounds, including but not limited to formaldehyde.
A NASA clean air study once tested several common indoor plants for the ability to clean the air, and found many of them are very, very good at removing multiple kinds of organic compounds from the air (check out this handy chart).
For optimal filtration, try to stick one medium sized, leafy plant every 2.2 metres or so! Look for species with large leaves (the more leaf surface area, the more efficient it is).
3. Slow Down: Stop And Smell The Roses
There’s a singular, extraordinary joy in watching plants, like a leggy, velveteen orchid I.E, grow slowly over time.
Just think about how many of us go about our days without even realizing we’re being impatient. You mist too fast, fertilize with downright haste — rush the process and in doing so, waste it. Moving so quickly might make us feel like we’re getting things done way, way faster but we often end doubling back because we’ve forgotten to read the fine print and missed the details.
Tending to plants indoors teaches us to slow down and breathe a little and become more intentional, mindful people.
Making The Most Out Of Your Houseplants
The trick to keeping your houseplants alive? There is none. You’ve got to understand their needs.
House plants are more than just ornamental: they’re the living, breathing inhabitants of your home. They can turn a drab, boring space into someplace bright and moving, breathing life wherever they go. They announce “someone lives here, cares for things, loves us”.
And what’s more, they pull their weight: they produce oxygen and filter out everyday pollutants. They also release valuable phytochemicals, which suppress mould spores and bacteria in the air. Plus, they add some much needed humidity to positively parched centrally heated homes.
Here are three top tips for thriving houseplants:
- Find out about their origins: where do they come from? What’s it like there?
- Too much sun is never a good thing: even tough, hardy cacti and succulents don’t appreciate being left out in the sun too long.
- Put together a watering and feeding schedule: a little handy timetable will help you keep tabs on all your houseplants and their differing needs.