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Desk Plants Can Decrease Stress, Improve Productivity At Work

They're like your office babies.

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit: Get a plant for your work desk.

For whenever you’re feeling: Like you need to brighten up your workspace.

What it is: You can usually find the following on someone’s desk: family photos, some pens and paper, maybe a water bottle and some cream, and definitely a couple of empty coffee cups.

But more people are adding houseplants to their work space, and, as someone who has my little area covered in greenery, I can attest to how much they lift my spirits.

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How it can help: I know from experience that having a few plants around me while I’m working makes me feel happy, and I know that when I’m happy, I’m a way better worker than when I’m feeling stressed out or miserable.

According to a 2014 paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, employees who were used to having a sterile workspace were more productive when they had household plants around them.

Researchers found that offices that had one plant per square metre increased workers’ performance on memory retention and other basic tests.

“What was important was that everybody could see a plant from their desk,” noted psychologist Chris Knight on the tests he and his colleagues performed. “If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better.”

Other studies have found that indoor plants can reduce stress levels at work. Researchers at Washington State University found that study participants’ blood pressure levels were lower when they were near plants. They also reported feeling more attentive when plants were in the room.

How to get started: I’d recommend visiting your local nursery or garden centre to get an expert’s opinion on the best plant that would be easy to take care of.

As some of us work in offices without windows, or very little sunlight, we have to find plants that would thrive with little-to-no sunlight. Succulents, for example, would do well in an office environment because they only require once-a-week waterings and bright but indirect sunlight. Some even thrive in the shade.

Other easy-to-take-care of office plants include cacti, air plants, spider plants, and bamboo.

How it makes us feel: Since I can’t bring my dog into the office, plants are the next best thing. It makes me feel, well, like a parent, when I water my plants and see them thriving. They’re my office babies!

And that’s your habit of the day.

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