How House Plants Make You Happier (Harvard Studied, Meraki Approved)
Last April, when I moved into my new apartment, I bought my very first palm tree and placed it right in the corner of my living room. A year later, I have more plants scattered around the house than I can count...
It was hard to explain why or how I became so obsessed with having plants around the house - all I knew was that those natural elements throughout my home made me calmer, happier, and more present in a way I rarely do while working in a skyscraper and living in a city apartment. Today, my entire home is speckled with succulents, palm trees, flowers and cacti. I couldn’t quite articulate the way it improved my life - until now.
In January 2018, researcher Jie Yin at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment conducted a study that measured the blood pressure, galvanic skin response (indicating stress levels), heart rate, and the cognitive well-being of 28 participants as they interacted with various biophilic office environments, and the results were incredible.
From the study:
“The overall differential effects for participants experiencing an indoor environment with biophilic elements versus none was 8.6 mmHg lower systolic and 3.6 mmHg lower diastolic blood pressure. In addition, their skin conductance decreased 0.18 μS greater than when they experienced the non-biophilic setting. Short-term memory improved by 14%. Participants reported a decrease in negative emotions and an increase in positive emotions after experiencing the biophilic setting.
Interestingly, a portion of the study was conducted using virtual reality. When observing and experiencing the biophilic office environment virtually, the positive effects recorded were the same! (This is great news for those of us who can’t keep a real plant alive for more than a week...) In other words, faux-foliage is Harvard approved.
This is especially recommended for anyone with pets (cats in particular). There are entire species of plants that are toxic to cats that can make them depressed, stressed, sick or worse. You could research the types of plants to avoid, but the safe bet is just to "go with the faux" (no watering needed!).
How to incorporate biophilic design into your life
If you are looking to emphasize the benefits of biophilic design, consider some other ways of inducing the natural effects:
You should aim to let natural light into your home wherever you can. The difference between a light bulb and a big window is too drastic to ignore.
Fresh air flow is an important but often underappreciated aspect of a healthy home. Stagnant air gets dirty, dank, and gets worse over time. So make sure you take out the garbage, change that kitty litter, and open a window when you can!
It doesn't work in every space, but an element of water like an indoor waterfall or a tasteful aquarium installation does wonders for the creation of a relaxing atmosphere.
Nothing brings natural comfort into the home like a few furry family members! Many experts consider animals to be an important aspect of biophilic design. This includes kittens, puppies, fish and even birds (if that's your thing).
Lastly, this one goes without saying. There are few things cozier than snuggling up next to a fireplace, lighting some candles or both. It's hardly surprising that doing so emphasizes the psychological and physiological benefits of boiphilic design elements.
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
- Frank Lloyd Wright -
Intuitively, everyone knows it is nice to have those natural elements around you when you are in the workplace, at home, or even in public spaces. Now, thanks to modern technology, we have the science to prove it. So go ahead - get out there, get some house plants in your life and share a pic of your space with us!