If you can’t venture into nature as much as you’d like lately, try bringing a little bit of nature into your home instead. A new and extensive international study finds that having some plants at home did a world of mental health good for many people during the early lockdowns of 2020.
Led by the University of Seville’s School of Agricultural Engineering, a collection of researchers surveyed over 4,000 people living in 46 different countries.
Nearly three-quarters (74%) say their mental health benefited greatly from having some plants at home during lockdowns that took place between March and June 2020.
Additionally, over half (55.8%) of survey participants regret not having more plants in their homes last year.
Still not convinced you need some more greenery at home? Those who admitted to not having any planets in their home reported psychological distress and negative emotions far more often than plant-owning survey respondents. Similarly, both subjects living in small or poorly-lit homes and those who didn’t make a habit of seeing nature before the pandemic also reported dealing with much more negative emotions.
These findings speak to how essential nature and greenery are to human wellbeing. The pandemic made it incredibly difficult for most of us to get outside and enjoy nature over the past year, but, in many ways, humanity had already been shunning its green needs for decades.
As technology has continued to improve and advance at a rapid clip, it’s become more and more common, even expected, for most people to spend the vast majority of their days “plugged in.” Coincidentally, or perhaps not, rates of mental health issues like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression have increased along roughly the same timeline.
We as a species haven’t been spending enough time in nature for a long, long time, and our collective psyche is suffering as a result. Our ancient ancestors lived in the dirt and leaves like any other animal, and while no one is advocating for a return to cave living, humans just weren’t meant to be surrounded by concrete 24/7.
This study also notes that lockdowns this past year helped many people find their green thumb. Just over half of respondents (52%) say they’ve spent more time during lockdown caring for plants than they would have normally. Another 62.5% say they’ll keep giving their plants extra-care long after the pandemic is over.
Also, 40% want to keep adding more and more plants to their home in the future.
It may not be the most comprehensive solution to lockdown-fueled feelings of cabin fever, but adding some plants to your living room, bedroom, and perhaps work area can make a psychological difference for the better. Tons of research, not just these findings, have come to similar conclusions.
The full study can be found here, published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening.