This winter, it can be hard not to feel a little gloomy. The anxiety caused by the second wave of Covid-19 and spending less time outdoors can have a real impact on mental health, resulting in a rise in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) among many people.
Luckily, bringing nature into your home with a pot plant or two can have a huge impact on how you feel. The uplifting effect of plants doesn’t end with purifying the indoor air and making the room more colourful and attractive. It may also help in reducing anxiety and providing the same natural stress-relief people feel outdoors.
Studies say that just being around houseplants, flowers or artfully arranged branches can significantly boost mood, reduce stress, lift spirits, increase concentration, including ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) symptoms and even relieve aches and pains. Even taking care of houseplants can increase happiness.
In addition to creating a soothing home environment with their colours, textures and scents, plants can also benefit us physically by helping to lower blood pressure, absorbing toxins and producing cleaner air.
Here are some indoor plants to brighten your home and enhance your mood this winter:
Lavender: The scent of the flowering herb lavender is great for reducing stress, relieving headaches and promoting sleep. It’s also used in aromatherapy. Lavender plants need a lot of light and heavy watering, so be sure to place them near a window and water frequently. You can place lavender in your bedroom to make the most of these benefits.
Aloe: This is thought to bring positive energy to home. Aloe both purifies the air of common carcinogens and emits oxygen at night, helping us to sleep better and be less cranky in the morning. It has also been hung over doorways to ward off evil spirits.
Basil: In addition to its lovely silken leaves and distinctive scent, basil also contains large amounts of an organic compound called linalool that is frequently used in aromatherapy.
Snake plants: This is one of nature’s powerful air fresheners. The evergreen snake plant thrives in dry indoor conditions and needs medium to bright indirect light and about a quarter of a cup of water every few weeks. Snake plants release oxygen at night, and according to researchers, it’s one of the top five plants for improving indoor air quality.
Peppermint plants: This herbal plant can strongly uplift spirits in winter. Research has revealed that the aroma of peppermint can boost mood, memory and mental awareness. The plants are also easy to grow in a moist soil all year round indoors.
Peace lilies: These are an organic air purifier that can make you even more comfortable in your own home. With their striking, sculptural white blooms, peace lilies are known for effectively removing mould spores from the air and neutralising toxic gases like carbon monoxide.
Rosary vines: These beautiful trailing vines with their heart-shaped leaves suck ozone from polluted indoor air and flourish under bright but indirect sunlight. But be careful as overwatering will kill the vines, so make sure that 30 per cent of the soil starting from the top is dry. You can also use a moisture meter to measure when it is time to water.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 January , 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly