A study conducted by researchers in Japan has shown that keeping plants on one’s desk could help reduce workplace stress.
The study, published in the journal HortTechnology, involved an experiment on workers at an electric company in Japan with the researchers observing their changes in workplace stress levels pre- and post-involvement with a plants.
Results demonstrated that the number of employees with high scores on an anxiety measurement test decreased their scores slightly after having the plants while another 27% of employees showed a significant decrease in resting heart rate.
While there have been numerous studies on the health effects of indoor plants in the past, most of them were performed in either laboratories or quasi-office settings and only included passive interaction.
In this particular study, the researchers verified the stress-reducing effect of gazing intentionally at a plant for a few minutes and actively engaging in the care of it in a real office setting when an employee felt fatigued.
They used a measurement tool called the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory index (STAI) to gauge the employees’ usual stress levels during days when they felt fatigued and recorded their pulse rates in the morning and night.
Dr. Masahiro Toyoda, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Hyogo, pointed out that the results indicated that if employers provided active encouragement for workers to take three minute “nature breaks,” the mental health of their employees would improve.
Dr. Charles Hall, Ellison Chair of International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, said the study is the “latest of those that continue to point out that plants are beneficial to humans.”
Dr. Hall added: “It’s something we inherently knew, but has suddenly been quantified. And so now, we’re seeing the numbers behind the reasoning.”
According to the researchers, the alarming rate of stress and mental health disorders suffered by workers in Japan motivated them to conduct their study.