The pandemic has done a number on our mental health. A survey by the CDC found that 4 in 10 adults are now struggling with mental health, as of June 2020. That’s up considerably from the same time in 2019. Anxiety and insomnia have been some of the biggest mental health challenges springing up, and it makes sense that people are looking for ways to alleviate their symptoms.
But there’s hope and good news. There are several plants indoor gardeners can grow that can help improve your quality of sleep and anxiety. Did you know that plants alleviate anxiety? Let’s take a look at these wonderful houseplants so you can spruce up your home and improve your quality of life.
Before we dive in to learn how plants alleviate anxiety, we should say that houseplants are not a silver bullet. If you’re experiencing anxiety or insomnia, start by talking to a medical professional. And if you don’t want to do it in person, consider trying telehealth, which is a great alternative that allows for social distancing.
The Healing Power of Plants
Plants have a wide variety of benefits. Simply caring for an indoor plant can reduce stress, both psychological and physiological. Many of them also have leaves that purify the air of toxins or even act as neurotransmitter inhibitors, which can help you fall (and stay) asleep throughout the night.
And no need to worry if you don’t have a green thumb. Most of these plants are easy to care for and require minimal maintenance throughout the week. And it’s a small price to pay for the sweet relief of mental health.
Here are 5 plants to help with anxiety and sleep:
Mint in all its varieties is easy to grow and hard to kill. I once mistook it for a weed in my garden, treated it with some weed killer, and it came back as good as new the next year. Not only is it easy to grow, but peppermint can be an excellent way to reduce stress and even boost your alertness. The menthol in mint plants is the main reason for these benefits, so you see it in things like bath washes, teas, essential oils, etc.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the day or the state of the world, take a few mint leaves and give them a whiff, or give them a nice soak to make a tea.
Have you ever noticed that most of the sleep aids at your local drugstore have light-purple-colored labels? This is likely because we connect the lavender’s color – and in turn, the lavender plant – with a good night’s sleep. Lavender is an excellent natural aid for insomnia and anxiety. These benefits come from the lavender oil, which contains a sedating effect that may relax specific muscles.
And while it can be tricky to grow lavender indoors throughout the year, you can also order it online or at your local flower shop. Once you are growing your own lavender, you can use clippings to make lavender oil or lavender soap. It’s surprisingly simple to integrate lavender into your daily routine.
Allergies at night can make sleeping a struggle. English Ivy is a great way to combat your nighttime sniffles and drainage, as it can help reduce airborne mold and feces and even improve the overall air quality in your room. One study even found that it can help reduce asthma symptoms. At a bare minimum, consider adding this beautiful ivy to your bedroom nightstand. One word of caution, though! English Ivy is toxic if ingested by cats or humans. Be sure to keep it out of reach.
Jasmine is, first and foremost, a beautiful plant. Even if it didn’t have mental health benefits, it’s delicate white buds, and soothing smell are the perfect accent piece for any room. In terms of mental health benefits, jasmine’s scent directly affects the brain and nervous system with a GABA chemical. This neurotransmitter inhibitor alleviates mild forms of both anxiety and depression. What’s more, it can cause a calming and sedating effect, meaning it helps you fade away to the Land of Nod. So place the beautiful jasmine in your room. You can also use its leaves to make a tea or turn it into an oil and add it to a defuser at night.
Aloe Vera is a wonderful plant that’s easy to grow and hard to kill. The gel from its leaves usually makes headlines as an anti-inflammatory, as well as its ability to soothe and even heal mild to moderate burns. But beyond these already-amazing uses, its leaves are oxygen machines. And all this extra O will improve your mood and your sleep. Not only this, but it even removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air.
And did I mention it’s hard to kill? Seriously, just give it a pot with drainage holes and some succulent soil, and wah-lah! You’ve got a plant that could outlive you.
Start Planting Today
Now more than ever, it’s essential that we take precautions to ensure we have healthy minds, hearts, and bodies. Caring for indoor plants not only breaks up the daily routine, it gets you off your computer and connected with another living thing, up close and personal – a rare treat for some these days. These indoor plants alleviate anxiety and can provide a calm and comforting aesthetic, encourage healthy sleep, and provide clean air filled with soothing aromas. So while you consider upping your self-care game, don’t forget the indoor plants.