How plants can help the winter blues
It’s that time of the year again. The time when the sun goes down earlier and earlier, the air gets cold and people spend more time indoors. This is more commonly known as winter and even if it hasn’t snowed where you are yet, you probably know it’s coming. Even if it never snows by you, it still gets dark much earlier than in the summer.
For some people, that is a very bad thing. You hear talk about getting the “Winter Blues” but it has an actual name: Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is scientific and medical evidence that says the shorter days, more time indoors, and the cold weather can actually cause people to feel depressed. Depression is nothing to sneeze at and can have very serious consequences.
There is also something known as Sick Building Syndrome that tends to become more prominent during the winter.
Employees cannot step outside for walks or for lunch as easily and the ventilation system changes. Being stuck inside and breathing that air can cause people to actually feel ill during the winter months.
There are several methods out there that people describe and attempt to prescribe for those who have the winter blues. These range from UV lamps to vacations to the Tropics. However, there might be something a little bit simpler that you can do in your home, or around your office, that might help stave off the winter blahs.
Indoor plants can help winter blues
We have talked before about the benefits of plants.
It turns out that those benefits go even further than you might think. Plants have been known to increase productivity and creativity in offices, and studies have shown people actually crave viewing plants and nature.
This could be why a vacation to the tropics is so popular because it takes people to somewhere green. Sometimes just a trip to a botanical garden or other areas rich in plants and flowers can do a lot to alleviate the winter doldrums on a January day. It seems plants really do something to our brains that makes us feel better, more energized.
Indoor plants can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder
It turns out that green plants really do help clean the air. They make the atmosphere in a home or building healthier to breathe and the cleaner the oxygen you inhale, the better it is for you – mentally and physically. Keeping the lungs clean is key to generally feeling better, but it doesn’t stop there.
Plants also increase humidity levels. They can also help regulate the temperature inside closed spaces such as a home or office. This helps our brains feel more content and comfortable.
Indoor plants can provide an emotional boost
Plants have all kinds of fantastic benefits. They do things like help lower blood pressure, increase people’s attentiveness, increase energy levels and improve the overall perception of whatever space you’re in.
All of that can help when the days are dark by the time late afternoon comes around. By improving the atmosphere inside your home during the winter months, when you are forced to stay inside more often, you can improve your mood; feel more energetic and less depressed.
Having living plants inside the building can actually reduce the number of sick days used by employees during winter. While it may be true that a plant’s ability to clean the air of pollutants and increase oxygen levels may help, it seems as if there is also a powerful psychological benefit to having green in the office. In short, people just feel better when there are plants around.
If you are an employer, consider letting the people who work for you choose their plant decorations for their individual desks. That little extra step can really help brighten their moods.
Which indoor plants help fight winter blues?
Of course, one of the questions you might be having is: what kind of plants should I get for my home? Well, that depends on you, the amount of light that you get in your home or office and how much you want to have to water your plants.
There are numerous plants that are great for indoors. They do not require a ton of light and some of them do not require much water, either. You can read all about indoor plants, how to care for them, how to find them and how to install them in our Ultimate Guide to Office Plants.
Generally, the more you have the greater the benefit. If you have just a few plants it may not have maximum effect. However, you need to do what you think is best for your home and for your own mental health.
For some offices, it is common to let employees decorate their workspaces during the holiday season. Many employers also decorate the building at that time, too. This can bring a spike in warm feelings and goodwill, but what happens when January rolls around? Sometimes the worst months for Seasonal Affective Disorder and Sick Building Syndrome are January and February.
It’s worth considering allowing employees to continue to decorate their cubicles and offices. It might be the perfect time to consider adding plants to the entire space, too, and there are professionals who can help you find the right plants and design to work with your space.
Some of the indoor plants which have shown the ability to remove the winter blahs include:
- Spathiphyllum – which is also known as the Peace Lily. They have a large white flower and can get quite big, but they grow well indoors, are generally easier to care for during the winter months, and their bright white flowers provide a nice break for the eyes.
- Cacti – if the only way you know about cacti is from the green things you’ve seen in cartoons, you don’t know the full extent of the species of indoor plant. Cacti come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and shapes. You can have large ones as floor plants, or teeny tiny ones on your desk. You can find the standard green or cacti which are red, yellow, pink and other colors. They are easy to care for, too, which helps reduce stress.
- Aloe – in particular, Spider Aloe, which have pointy leaves and looks a little like the cacti mentioned above. They come in a rich green color, their shape and spiked leaves are interesting to look at and talk about and they are also adaptable to indoor use. They also grow in nearly any pot you put them in.
- Lavender – yes, it is probable you know the smell of lavender. It’s a popular scent for perfumes, candles and potpourri. However, the smell of lavender has calming effects and can be effective when used indoors, too. It has been shown to combat fatigue and sleeplessness. Inside your home, this can help you get the sleep you need and feel better all winter long.
- Calathea – looking to make your home appear a bit more tropical? If you like lush greenery around your house, this is the plant for you. With its rich green and wide, thick leaves, this plant grows in the shady areas of the Amazon rainforest. This one requires a bit of care above and beyond the others mentioned above, but can really help create a tropical feel around your home if you put enough of them around.
- Anthuriums – These are flowering plants that tend to flower and thrive the best from February through March, when winter is likely the most depressing. The great thing about these plants is the brightly colored flowers they produce in red, white and pink. They are also famous for being very easy to care for.
- Ferns – these are probably one of the most common indoor plants and that’s for a reason. They thrive indoors, are a rich green color, are relatively easy to care for and are known for filtering out toxins and increasing the humidity in the air. This is good for the winter when the air inside gets so dry that touching any metal causes a shock.
These are just a few suggestions. However, there are literally dozens more indoor house plants. All of them, given the proper care, lighting, watering and humidity levels can survive during the winter months. Even orchids, notorious for being so difficult to grow, can survive and bloom during the winter given the proper care.
Indoor plants will help, but depression is real
This is not to say that depression can be cured by plants. It is a serious mental health problem and those suffering from it should seek professional help.
However, if winter seems to bring you down, investing in a few plants might be just the thing to perk you back up. When the landscape out the window is buried in white, a little green might be just the thing that helps get you through until spring.
To get the right plants in your office or property call on the experts at Ambius!