Why plants make us happy

Elizabeth Meade explores why it is that plants bring us so much joy and examines the science behind it.

Elizabeth Meade
22nd March 2021
There are many reasons why plants can make us happy: they are aesthetically appealing, caring for them gives us a sense of responsibility and accomplishment and they literally give us the air that we breathe. But what does science suggest about plants and happiness?

Indoor plants remind us of the world 'out there' that many of us are missing due to the pandemic and heavy work schedules

A recent study suggests that gardening at home brought about similar happiness levels to biking or walking outside--especially for women and people with low incomes. This may be due to gardening's ability to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables that are more expensive to purchase from the store, as well as the feeling of meaningfulness that comes with growing food for yourself. Another study found that taking care of and viewing a plant led to a decrease in stress at the workplace--although one must wonder if that had less to do with the plant and more to do with a break from the boring, seemingly meaningless tasks associated with the modern workplace. Earlier work, however, suggests that even the mere presence of plants creates positive feelings in office employees.

Image credit: PIxabay, @JillWellington

While recent research suggests that plants are not as good for indoor air quality as initially thought because early studies took place in sealed labs and didn't take into account all the factors of real life, there's certainly something to be said for the connection to the environment that mere exposure to it provides. Indoor plants remind us of the world 'out there' that many of us are missing due to the pandemic and heavy work schedules, and it's satisfying to watch plants grow and see the results of your dedicated watering. Plants' recent popularity, however, is likely due to increased concern for the environment and interest in cooking during COVID-19--after all, there's nothing like fresh vegetables from your own windowsill.

Feature Image credit: Pixabay, @DomAlberts

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
Science sub-ed and Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking.

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