Posted on Jan 03, 2020, 6 p.m.
People are feeling more stressed than ever according to research, and it is reflected even more so in the workplace. All of this anxiety has prompted some employers/companies to try out activities to help soothe their employees from mediation to games. A recent study from the University of Hyogo has revealed another simple solution: potted plants around the workplace.
Spending time outdoors and around nature has been shown to be beneficial for overall mental health. Although it is difficult to do this while at work, this study investigated how beneficial indoors plants may be for those employees that are cooped up inside working all day by conducting their study in a real life office setting with actual employees rather than a lab setting to determine just how much relief employees felt after looking at a plant after they started to feel tired on the job; passive interaction with the plants was also considered.
“At present, not so many people fully understand and utilize the benefit of stress recovery brought by plants in the workplace. To ameliorate such situations, we decided it essential to verify and provide scientific evidence for the stress restorative effect by nearby plants in a real office setting,” explains study author Masahiro Toyoda in a release.
Psychological and physiological stress levels were observed from 63 employees before and after a small potted plant was placed on each of their desks; each employee was instructed to take a short 3 minute break whenever they started to feel stressed, fatigued, or tired while on the job.
The study consisted of 2 parts: the control phase when employees worked normally without any plants, and the experimental phase where each employee was given a plant to maintain on their desks; standard testing was used to measure employee psychological stress levels. Findings showed that the overwhelming majority of employees displayed significantly lower pulse rates after taking 3 minutes breaks and interacting with their plants which indicates a noticeable drop in stress levels.
Employee interactions with their plants were separated into 2 categories: actively caring for, and intentionally look at it whenever stressed; and passive simply having it near their monitor. Participants had the choice of 6 plant options: bonsai, echeveria, cactus, air, kokedama, or foliage plants.
It was noted that just the sight of the plant was enough to help soothe an employee; employee anxiety levels lowered considerably after the plants were introduced into the office, findings held true across all age groups regardless of the type of plants they had.
Next time you find yourself stressed why not go to your local nursery and pick up a little potted plant for your desk. Perhaps spend some time walking in a local park to wind down while you are at it, a little potted foliage and some time in nature may be just what you need.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.