Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Scientific and Meditative Impact of Plants and Flowers

When you pick out a flower bouquet or evergreen plant and place it on the countertop or in a corner of your home, you may not realize how this simple action will positively affect your mood and overall wellbeing. What is behind this phenomenon? Researchers from the National Institute of Health attribute this mood enhancement to biophilia, the theory that humans have a special affinity for natural and living things, also called nature connectedness. The same scientists also emphasized that adding nature to your personal environment reduces stress, boosts attention and is generally beneficial for overall human health.

What is the impact of biophilic design in an environment?

By adding a plant or flower in your home or workspace there is a restorative effect that cannot be duplicated by manmade decor. As early as the 1950s, Abraham Maslow studied the impact of biophilic design in the workplace, documenting that the presence of natural elements in an employee's space could duplicate the same effects as an outdoor environment. Additionally, employees reported a 13 percent increase in wellbeing and productivity with the nature friendly design in their offices, per a study by Human Spaces. Although the theory is relatively new, evidence supporting the positive impact of nature-friendly indoor environments is growing.

Which specific plants and flowers boost your wellbeing?

According to a study in Psychology Today, houseplants help lower anxiety, decrease blood pressure, raise productivity at work and influence perceptions of space in a positive way. Specific plants that especially create this feeling include snake plants, Chinese evergreen and peace lilies. A snake plant filters the air by eliminating toxins and is a relatively easy to maintain; the Chinese evergreen also detoxifies the air and, with time, actually becomes more detoxifying. The peace lily is not only a beautiful plant, but it topped NASA's list for removing the common damaging elements of formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. Be advised that these plants might be difficult to find at a grocer, so call local nurseries or, more conveniently, order from an online flower retailer.

Other flowers with health benefits include roses (emit a calming scent that combats depression) and lavender (eases insomnia).

Does a biophilic design influence your ability to meditate?

Plants also have the potential to help the practice of meditation. People who meditate say that, because of larger surface areas, houseplants absorb noise and increase your clean oxygen intake. So instead of just one plant or flower, having a meditative garden in your space not only nourishes your mental state, but also improves your physical wellbeing. A meditation garden is an indoor sanctuary to the stresses from the workplace and many look at growing these gardens as a way to enhance nurturing aspects of their personalities by caring for something that will blossom.

We cannot underestimate the impact of biophilic design on our environments. In a hustle-bustle society of screens, everyone needs a place to retreat in a where there are flowers and plants to remind us of the peace and quiet found in nature.