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What a time to be alive! Many of us have probably just moved out of our parents’ houses and are completely in charge of ourself and our own decisions. College is a time of change and for a lot of people this change comes with a decline in their mental health. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine and the National institute of Health, in 2008 almost half of college students had a mental illness.
As a college student myself, I am constantly looking for ways to help my mental health. I have discovered that one way to help my mental health is through plants. Having plants is great for mental health because they can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
You may be asking yourself, “how the heck would owning a plant help reduce my stress? It is just one more thing to worry about and take care of.” Well according to a study which compared computer tasks to plant tasks (transplanting), plants can decrease psychological and physiological stress by lowering your blood pressure. If thinking of keeping a plant alive causes you stress, there are many plants out there that are easy to take care of, my favorite example is the pothos plant.
As far as helping with anxiety, plants do that in a couple of interesting ways. The first way that plants help reduce anxiety is by being in our visual field. An example of this is portrayed by a study of two groups of post-surgery patients. When patients had plants in their room, they reported less anxiety and fatigue than those in the control group. Another way that plants help anxiety is by naturally cleaning the air and producing oxygen. Plants by nature absorb carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen. The increase in oxygen levels in your environment decreases your anxiety levels.
Plants helping with depression is a concept that has made its way into the therapy world.
Therapy that includes the integration of plants into treatment is referred to as Horticulture Therapy. Horticulture Therapy is usually used to help treat schizophrenia, dementia, and depression.
In one study, Horticulture Therapy gave participants diagnosed with depression a sense of purpose. You do not have to pay for some expensive therapy to get these effects, by adding even one plant to your life you can benefit from them.
As you can see, adding some color to your space is only the beginning of the benefits of plants; plants are a great way to help your overall mental health by reducing your stress, your anxiety, and your depression without breaking the bank.
This is just one of many ways to help your mental health both in college and for the rest of your life. Everyone should drive over to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up a plant, your mind will thank you later.
Jullianna Torrez, senior psychology major
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