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The 8 best house plants for reducing stress

Breathe deep and bring a sense of calm and serenity to your home with these cortisol-reducing indoor plants

By Vogue UK | August 18, 2021 | Gardens

If creating a calm and soothing home environment is your current MO, then we probably don’t need to sell you on the many benefits of indoor house plants. More than just aesthetically pleasing, indoor plants are proven to improve air quality and your immune system, boost productivity and have an overall positive impact on mental health. Add to that, many studies have shown they help to lower stress levels and improve blood pressure and heart rate, too.

In fact, experts from UK-based addiction treatment centre Delamere Health have shed new light on why gardening and caring for houseplants can be so beneficial to our mental and physical wellbeing. “Tapping into your creative energy can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and improve your overall mental and physical health,” say the specialists at Delamere Health. “The average person has over 6,000 thoughts per day—a creative activity such as gardening can help focus the mind by calming the brain and body.”

“Scientifically, evidence suggests working with nature reduces cortisol levels, a chemical our bodies produce in response to stress. While being outdoors is beneficial for stress, your indoor green oasis also provides relief from stressors caused by day-to-day life.” Furthermore, gardening helps to develop a ‘growth mindset’, which is the belief that we can improve our basic abilities through dedication and hard work.

Of course, not all plants are created equal, and the specialists have shared eight specific house plants that are particularly good at relieving stress.

1. Peace lily

“NASA found a Peace lily to be one of the most effective plants at filtering harmful toxins and pollutants from the air. One of the main benefits it provides to human health is by combating toxic household chemicals, including benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide.

Picture: Unsplash

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing in your living space, the Peace lily also helps eliminate the mould spores in the air. Therefore, it will help to reduce symptoms associated with mould exposure, including eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, throat irritation and skin irritation.”

2. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is commonly recognised for its anti-inflammatory elements, used for healing wounds and skin ailments, such as sunburn, acne and eczema. But the plant's air purifying and low maintenance properties make it the ideal home addition.

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Research into the behaviour of nurses found that exposure to pollution raises the risk of anxiety symptoms, including fearfulness, desire for avoidance and tendency to worry. The Aloe vera plant also removes harmful chemicals from the air that can impact our respiratory system and trigger feelings of stress and unease.”

3. Snake plant

“Snake plants, in addition to adding a beautiful touch of green to your home, can help improve indoor air by absorbing airborne toxic pollutants, such as formaldehyde and toluene that impact your sleep, mood and energy levels.

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With its preference for dry soil, the Snake plant would be the perfect indoor decor option for novice gardeners who want a plant that looks nice in their home and has a positive influence on their mental health at the same time.”

4. Lavender

“The calming scent of lavender makes it a perfect aromatherapy accompaniment. The fragrance from the plant is believed to promote a sense of calmness and tranquillity, with properties helping to reduce stress, anxiety and possibly even mild pain.

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In fact, research into the behaviour of dental patients revealed that the lavender scent significantly reduces the anxiety levels of participants with phobias. The aroma of the plant created a natural sense of calm for patients waiting for treatment.”

5. Rosemary

“You might think of rosemary as an outdoor herb that exists purely to add flavour to your food. But when you keep rosemary indoors, it can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood. In fact, research confirms that the aroma of rosemary can improve cognitive function, which may help reduce anxiety symptoms.”

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6. Jasmine

“Jasmine has been found to improve brain activity, induce sleep and help alleviate mental illness symptoms. Studies have concluded that the plant’s scent has therapeutic benefits that can be used as a medicinal alternative for depression, stress, anxiety and insomnia.

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The scent from the Jasmine plant directly impacts the brain’s central nervous system chemical known as GABA, which results in calming of the nerves, reducing anxiety and mild depression, and improving the quality of sleep in individuals.”

7. English ivy

“English ivy is known for being easy to care for but is also a powerhouse for removing harmful toxins from the air in your home. This plant is particularly beneficial for anyone with green thumbs looking to calm their allergies, particularly those suffering from asthma.

Picture: Pexels

The English ivy's air purifying properties lower airborne mould from the home, and remove formaldehyde from the air, which helps to promote a good night’s sleep. Research by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology revealed that the plant removes 94 per cent of airborne faeces and 78 per cent of airborne mould in just 12 hours.”

8. Chrysanthemum

“Chrysanthemum does more than just brighten your space. The plant's properties can have a positive influence on your mood and mental wellbeing. Like other flowers, the Chrysanthemum improves air quality, reducing ammonia, toluene, and formaldehyde. Research has shown that surrounding individuals with the flower can improve short-term memory and overall mood.”

Picture: Unsplash

Written by Yeong Sassall.

This article originally appeared on Vogue Living Australia.