In the study, researchers from Japan’s University of Hyogo evaluated the psychological and physiological stress levels of 63 Japanese office employees before and after a plant was placed on their desks. Employees were told to take a three-minute break while sitting at their desks whenever they felt fatigued at work. Participants were instructed to sit at a desk with no plant, a desk with a plant and take care of a plant on their desk during the three different phases of the experiment. The participants were able to pick one of six plant options: San Pedro cactus, foliage plants, kokedama, echeveria, air plants or bonsai plants.
Through an anxiety inventory and pulse rate measurements, researchers determined that participants during the intervention period (which consists of just looking at or caring for the plant) experienced a significantly lower pulse rate than the control period, when no plants were placed at the participants’ desks.
The researchers also noted that simply looking at a plant - and not caring for it - was equally successful as caring for a plant when it came to decreasing the employees’ anxiety levels. The findings were the same regardless of the employees’ ages or what type of plant they had on their desks.
“The calming effects calculated during the study showed that anxiety decreased significantly from pre- to post-intervention. The results did not skew when looking at the data within the various age groups of the workers or with different plant selections. The researchers suggest that placing small plants within close sight contributed to psychological stress reduction across the board,” reads a January 2 press release from the researchers.