The study at the University of Hyogo in Awaji reveals the stress-reducing effects of plants and their benefits to the office workers that even a small indoor plant can reduce pressure and stress. Mashiro Toyoda, Marni Barnes, Yuko Yokota, and Midori Kaneko explored the benefits of indoor plants that help in boosting mental health among the workers usually removed from the exposure to the fresh and healthy green environment.
The findings of the study are shared in their article which is published in the journal: Hort Technology by the American Society for Horticulture Science.
In the modern world, stress reduction is a pressuring issue in the workplace. As it has been normally assumed that plants are soothing for those who regularly face mundane and stressful situations, the findings of this study verify the degree of the physiological and psychological impact of the indoor plants. Instead of conducting experiments in labs, the researchers experimented and calculated the stress reduction on the workers and employees in the office settings.
Toyoda said, nowadays not everyone fully utilizes and understands the benefits of stress recovery by the plants in the offices. To ameliorate such conditions, they decided to verify the scientific evidence and to provide such evidence for stress reduction by the plants in the workplaces.
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The researchers investigated the changes in both physiological and psychological stress before placing plants on the desk of workers and also after placing them. In Japan, 63 workers participated in this study. They were directed to rest for 3 minutes when they felt stressed or fatigue while sitting at their desks.
The study was based on two phases, a control period which was without plants and an intervention period with plants on their desks. The researchers calculated the psychological stress by using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The pulse rate of participants lowered significantly after resting 3 minutes interacting with the plants on their desks proved definitive.
The main objective of the study was to verify and confirm the stress-reducing benefits of plants, gazing intentionally at them in real office settings when the worker felt stressed or fatigue. Every plant used in the study was chosen by the worker. Both active and passive involvement with the plants in the office settings was their contribution to mitigating stress and fatigue.
All the participants were provided with visual access to their plants by having the plant of their choice placed conveniently on their tables (a passive involvement). The participants also had the opportunity for taking care of their plant (an active involvement). Besides, the authors considered that intentionally gazing as an active interaction, not involving physical movement.
Choice of six different types of plants was offered to the participants including, air plants, bonsai plants, foliage plants, san pedro cactus, kokedama or echeveria. Each participant picked one of those six types and placed it on their desks.
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During the study, the calming effects measured showed stress decreased significantly from pre-intervention to post-intervention. The results didn’t change with different plant selection and different age groups. The study authors suggested that the placement of small plants to close sight contributes to the reduction in the psychological stress across the board.
Toyoda and his team suggested business owners that placing small indoor plants could be a helpful and economical effort in improving the office environment for the employee. Besides, it can open up the new promising market avenue for the business owners of plant companies and indoor plants grower.