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Plants & Happiness

10 Quick Little Ways to Lower Stress Through Plants

In my article about why plants make us happier, I talked about how we’re innately connected to them through our evolutionary history as well as physiological make up. But though our minds and bodies work in concert with plants, we often forget about how powerful they are in lowering our stress. We get busy indoors with stuff we have to do! So if we remind ourselves to engage with the green world on a daily basis, we’ll gain the benefits of calming our nervous system, restoring our attention, and literally strengthening our bodies. And research shows that only a few minutes of greenery is oftentimes all we need to lower stress.

But we all work and do errands and raise kids and all else. Who has the time, right? Well, here are some quick, little ways to lower stress through plants.

  1. Take a ten minute walk and count the trees on the street as you go. This will force your eyes to focus on their healing fractal patterns.
  2. Eat lunch on a bench by plants. Instead of eating at your desk or take-out restaurant, find a park or courtyard where your eyes rest on plants.
  3. Keep a plant on your desk at the office. Some plants can survive with only fluorescent lighting. Here are 5 easy house plants to grow.
  4. Set the screensaver on your computer to a forest. Whenever you return to your desk, you’ll see a few moments of a restful sanctuary.
  5. Look up and notice how the trees soften the sky as you walk from your car, the bus, or subway to your house. Take a deep breath at the sight.
  6. Grow a plant on the windowsill above your sink. Whenever you wash the dishes, you’ll spend a few minutes zoning out on pretty green leaves.
  7. Hang a photo or drawing of a scene with plants. If your taste is antique, use a classic bouquet painting, if your taste is modern, try a leaf portrait.
  8. Put a house plant on your nightstand (that is, if a window’s nearby). This way, the first thing you’ll see in the morning is calming leaves.
  9. Decorate your table with a cut greenery centerpiece. While you’re eating meals, your eyes will feast on the various green shapes and hues.
  10. Gently wipe a house plant’s leaves with a wet cloth. Five minutes of petting a green friend will lower your heart rate and tidy up your room.

So this week, if you can, take a little greenery break, whether inside our outside. Schedule it into your lunch hour or afternoon snack time. See it as a window of renewal your mind and body both need, like exercise or sleep. Afterward, you’ll feel refreshed and a bit more ready to take on the stress of the day.

This week, try taking a greenery break for five days and let me know if you were able to make it a habit! In the next post, I’ll share what I do during mine.

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