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The Power of Plants: How Horticultural Therapy Can Improve Mental Health and Wellness

We all know that integrating plants and flowers into the workplace is aesthetically pleasing, but did you know doing so can also be a way to promote well-being? In today’s society, and especially over the past few years, people have become increasingly aware of the importance of mental health and wellness in the workplace, and many employers have implemented wellness spaces and wellness programs for their employees as a result. But the simple act of incorporating plantscapes into offices and other public spaces can also improve mental health among the people who work there. This is a concept we refer to as horticultural therapy. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this idea to see how you can utilize the power of plants to create an environment of well-being for your team, your clients, and yourself.

What Is Horticultural Therapy?

Horticultural therapy (HT) can best be described as the use of plants and plant-based activity as a way to promote physical and psychological well-being. While HT has grown in popularity in recent years, it’s not a new concept: in fact, it seems we humans have always been drawn to nature, often without necessarily knowing why, and live plants have been used as a way of calming the nerves as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. Most experts trace the beginnings of modern horticultural therapy to Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who first noticed that gardening could be used to treat his patients who suffered from mental illness and documented his findings. Today, HT is regularly used to help people manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. It is also used to help people with physical disabilities or chronic illnesses regain strength and mobility.

In its most active forms, horticultural therapy is a science-based field that explores how participating in gardening and plant care can help improve mental health as well as addressing physical, psychological, and social health concerns. By engaging with activities that tend to the soil and plants, those struggling with mental health conditions may find an outlet in which they can express themselves while increasing their sense of well-being. Research has shown that horticultural therapy can improve positive outlooks, reduce stress levels, and elevate mood.

Benefits of Horticultural Therapy in the Workplace

While it may or may not be feasible to incorporate active gardening as a wellness benefit in most workspaces, simply spending time among plants can act as a form of horticultural therapy. Studies have shown that the presence of live plants can have a positive impact on mental health, which is one reason why plant installations have gained traction in offices and other public spaces. Some specific benefits that have been reported include:

  • Reduced stress in the workplace
  • Increased productivity
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Overall improvement in morale and job satisfaction
  • Improved collaboration and communication among employees
  • Reduced absenteeism

In addition to these benefits, we shouldn’t overlook the ways in which HT can improve the overall quality of life for your employees in general. By incorporating plants into the workspace, you create a workspace that is happier, healthier, and more productive. When people work in a positive environment like this, they are proven to have higher morale levels, better focus, improved sleep habits, and more.

Practical Ways to Incorporate Horticultural Therapy in the Workplace

Green walls can actually help to insulate your office or place of busiIf you’re interested in exploring horticultural therapy as a wellness benefit, let’s talk about some fairly simple and practical ways you can do so:

  • Integrate plant life throughout the office. This is the easiest and most obvious first step, and one that offers nothing but positive benefits for you and your employees. Plantscapes can be as simple as placing a few potted plants in open areas, creating a “green wall,” or using planters as natural desk separators in open areas.
  • Add green to your existing break areas and/or wellness spaces. If you already have a dedicated break area or wellness room, adding plants is an easy way to improve the overall atmosphere. Not only will they add a splash of natural beauty, but they can also help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Encourage outdoor activities. Encouraging employees to take short nature breaks throughout their day has been proven to reduce stress levels, improve mental clarity, and increase focus. If you have a deck, rooftop, or courtyard, a few strategic plant and tree installations can turn these spaces into “mini-parks,” which can be perfect for your employees to go and unwind for a bit.
  • Consider a community garden. If you happen to have the space and want to integrate HT in a more active way as part of your employee wellness strategy, consider installing a community garden space where employees can actively tend plants and “get their hands dirty” during break times.

At Horticultural Creations, we’re well acquainted with the benefits of working with plants, which is why we love doing what we do! No matter the size or layout of your workspace, our expert designers can work with you to integrate plant installations that are both aesthetically pleasing and healthy for you and your team. Contact us here to schedule a consultation.

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