There are a lot of benefits to working from home, but being cooped up inside all day is definitely one of the downsides. Even before the pandemic, people were spending more time than ever inside. For thousands of years, humans spent their lives working in fields and farms. But in the last two centuries, we have had a huge lifestyle shift. Instead of being out and about with the flora and fauna, we’re living in a world filled with cubicles and computer screens. Most of us are probably happy we don’t have to wake up in the early morning to tend to our crops, but spending too much time inside isn’t good for us.
While you might not be able to go back to working outdoors, bringing nature indoors might be able to improve your work-from-home wellness. As a whole flower tea company, we sort of have a thing for flowers. To us, flowers aren’t just a vessel for beauty, but also well-being, connection, healing, unity, and love. And it’s not just us who thinks a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers is more than just pretty home décor. Research shows that having flowers and other greenery in your home can actually improve productivity, reduce stress, and more.
If you’re a flower lover like we are, grab your favorite herbal tea, wrap yourself up in something cozy, and keep reading to learn even more reasons to fill your home with flowers. If you’re not sure if a home filled with flowers and plants is for you, you might change your mind after reading some of these benefits.
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1. Working with live plants can help improve your attention
A few years ago, a group of researchers had a hypothesis that plants could help sharpen your attention. So, in a small study, the researchers decided to put their theory to the test. They gathered a group of 23 elementary students between the ages of 11 and 13 and placed them in a classroom. In each classroom they placed either an actual plant, an artificial plant, a photograph of a plant, or no plant at all in a classroom. (1)
Then, they recorded brain scans of all of the students in the classroom. The brain scans showed that the students who studied with real, live plants were more attentive and better able to concentrate than students in the other groups. Work-from-home life can be full of distractions. If you can’t seem to stay focused on your current projects, a nice bunch of flowers might do the trick
2. Flowers may make you more productive and more creative
There are a few different studies that have shown that having an indoor plant or flowers in your workspace makes you have higher productivity and creativity. One study showed that employees had lower stress levels and took less sick days when their offices had live plants in them (2). Another study, originally published in 1996, revealed that students worked 12% faster in the computer lab and had lower stress levels when they had a live plant beside them (3). Finally, according to a research study completed at Texas A&M University, plants can increase creativity by 15% or more when placed in the workplace. (4)
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3. Interacting with indoor plants can possibly help reduce stress levels
Even though we’ve been working from home for almost a year now, we still need any support we can get. If you’re feeling more stressed or isolated when working from home, it might be reassuring to know that interacting with live plants can help you feel more relaxed and at ease.
In a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, researchers assembled a group of 24 men to compare the differences in physiological responses when completing a plant-related task versus a computer-related task. Half of the subjects transplanted a potted plant from one pot to another and the other half worked on a computer task. Then, the groups switched activities. The researchers found that the group who interacted with their indoor plants had a lowered stress response. On the flip side, when the subjects completed the computer task, they experienced a spike in heart rate and blood pressure. (5)
While it might not be very realistic to de-stress by repotting any indoor plants you might have, there are other ways you can interact with nature in the comfort of your own home. Consider buying a lot of different flowers and crafting your own bouquet or surrounding your desk with live plants.
4. Having plants might make you more social and giving
One of the biggest complaints of people working from home is that they no longer get to socialize with their coworkers. Trying to catch up in a group setting over video chat isn’t always easy, so people have been left feeling more isolated. Luckily, greenery and flowers were proven to help make us more social, which could help create more connections with your coworkers even if it is through a screen.
Ming Kuo is a professor and researcher whose work has helped cities provide healthier human habitats for their residents through studies that show the benefits of greenery. In one of her studies, Kuo and her team researched the effects of greenery on social interaction in a row of 16 10-story apartment buildings in Chicago. Each of the apartment buildings were designed to be filled with greenery, but eventually the trees, flowers, and greenery were replaced with asphalt in a lot of the apartment buildings. (6)
Kuo learned that in the apartment buildings that didn’t have greenery, the residents were more likely to respond “no” to questions like “do you know your neighbors,” “do you speak to your neighbors,” “do you know them on first-name basis,” and “can you rely on their neighbors for a favor, like taking care of their kids if you had an emergency.” The residents in these apartments also reported higher levels of aggression. Those in the apartments with more greenery were more likely to say “yes” to those questions.
If you’re wondering why this might be, Kuo and her team think that not having access to nature can make you more mentally fatigued and therefore not as willing to be social or helpful to those around you. Zoom fatigue is real these days, so if you’re looking to recharge, you might need some greenery.
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5. Live plants and flowers might help your overall well-being
Having live plants in your home might help improve your overall feeling of well-being. In Norway, a heart and lung rehab center wanted to test this conclusion so they placed 28 live plants in common areas and tested the well-being of its patients before and after. In their study, they discovered that the patients who spent time in the common areas filled with live plants reported a greater increase in well-being four weeks later compared to patients who didn’t spend time in the greener common areas. (7)
6. Flowers can help improve indoor air quality
If you’ve participated in the plant craze that has taken over since the beginning of the pandemic, you might know that certain indoor plants can remove toxins. One of our favorites is the flowered Peace Lily. While plants aren’t as strong as modern air purifiers, they can help improve overall air quality. The Peace Lily is great for removing alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde. These hardy plants also have a high transpiration rate, which means that it can also humidify indoor air.
7. Live plants can help you relax
Nobody can deny that work can be stressful. We live in a time where near perfection can be expected in the work environment and that can be tough. Luckily, Ming Kuo conducted another pretty incredible study on the power of live plants. In this study, Kuo found that “when you look out at a green landscape, even from indoors, your heart rate will go down, and you’ll change from sympathetic nervous activity over to parasympathetic nervous activity, which is basically going from what we call fight or flight into tend and befriend mode.”
Most of us don’t have a beautiful green view from our windows, but we can make our environment as green as possible. By filling your home with flowers whether on your kitchen counter or as an herbal tea in your favorite teacup, you’re on the way to feeling less stress and more joy.