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25 Feb

Workplace Stress can be alleviated by pop plants, a new study suggests, and keeping a pot plant on your desk can help reduce stress and anxiety at work.

Researchers assessed the Impact of office plants, including bonsais, cacti and dwarf mountain palm, on a group of 63 workers.

When the participants stopped to look at their desk plant for just three minutes. 17 saw their heart rate fall.

The group then reported feeling more relaxed at work because the plants gave them an opportunity to look away from their screens – and became a talking point with colleagues.

The findings could come in helpful for the more than 600.000 people in Britain who suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s latest figures.

Dr Masahiro Toyoda, who led the study by researchers at the University of Hyogo in Japan, said: ‘At present, not so many people fully understand and utilise the benefit of stress recovery brought by plants in the workplace.”

The study concludes: “Gazing at a plant creates separation from stressors and provides the participants opportunities to remove themselves from the strain of work if only for a few minutes each time.”

The study asked participants to fill out a 20-item questionnaire judging anxiety levels.

At that point, 20 people had results suggesting high anxiety levels, while 18 were classed as ‘low-anxiety’. But after caring for the plants for a month, the number of people with “low anxiety” results rose from 18 to 23, while those with “high anxiety’ fell from 20 to 19.

The researchers also recorded a change in heart rates. A week before receiving the plants, the Japanese office staff, aged 24 to 58, were asked to take their pulse four times a day – in the morning and afternoon, when they felt tired and then three minutes later after stopping to stare at their empty desktop.

After three minutes staring ahead, only three saw their pulse slow down.

But when asked to repeat the experiment by staring for three minutes at the plant instead, 17 saw their heart rate fall.

At the end of the study, published in the journal Hort Technology participants said the plants helped them to interact with colleagues more but some complained about flies and the upkeep of the plants.

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