Plants vs Stress Levels
Human stress occurs as a result of an interplay between physiological and psychological factors. What triggers those facts can be many different things including work or family. Many studies have been carried on how plants contribute to human productivity and wellbeing, but does this also apply to human stress.
Is there any relationship between plants and stress levels? Sure. If plants contribute to improving productivity and well-being of workers, then it is logical to agree that they also affect human stress positively too. To justify this logic, we make reference to two studies. In the first study, 24 subjects, split into two random groups of 12, were subjected to two different kinds of activities: one that involved transplanting plants and another that involved completing a computer task. The assessment lasted two days with each group switching activities for each day.
First Case Study
On the first day, one group worked with the plants while the other worked on the computer task. Physiological responses to these activities were measured. Results revealed that while the subjects started with the nervous feelings they exhibited different kinds of feelings at the end of the two activities. While subjects leaned towards rejuvenation and comfort after working with plants, they felt rather uncomfortable, nervous and anxious with the computer task.
The computer task was an obvious stressor because it elevated sympathetic activity of the autonomic nervous system. This is not good as an increase in sympathetic nervous activity, if sustained too long, can lead cardiovascular complications. On the other hand, interacting with the plants alleviated any negative physiological effects by lowering blood pressure and unhealthy nervous system activity. This occurred as a result of subjects engaging their five senses in a natural and soothing activity. The research concluded physiological and psychological stress can be minimized through plants. Plants reduce blood pressure and promote natural feelings.
Second Case Study
The second study is similar to the first; it involved computers and plants too. However, the manner of execution was quite different. This research was carried out in a computer lab. Subjects were subjected to a computer task in two different scenarios: one with plants present in the lab and another without plants present in the lab. Blood pressure of subjects were monitored for these two different cases. Lower blood pressure was recorded when plants were present in the lab. Subjects completed the task comfortable than when the plants were absent. Heightened attention and concentration were also reported with the presence of plants.
In real workplace situations, it is not unusual to feel stressed because of work demands and pressure to deliver a task. We see this happen across all industries. Stress, when managed poorly, can lead to mental fatigue which is not good for employee productivity. With plants, however, we can live a healthier life in our workplace and at home. Besides, humans have a natural affiliation to nature. Indoor plants, green spaces, and plant walls are good ways we can create an environment that is supporting, soothing and comfortable. Plants do affect us in more ways than we imagine and that includes affecting human stress levels.