Less pressure during the block?  Put plants in your room, these scientists say

Less pressure during the block? Put plants in your room, these scientists say

Anyone starting the block now should ask their father or mother for a late Christmas gift: a potion of houseplants. New research shows that those who study among green spaces have less stress. “The students are now putting the plants that were on the dresser on the desk in front of them.”

Peter Geurts

After the Christmas break, there is no escape for students: the lockdown has officially begun. For most students, this is the equivalent of locking themselves at home or in the library for a month and a half, hunched over books.

To be sure, such a library does not usually excel in comfort, let alone color. However, it's not a bad idea these days – and in fact all year round – to place some houseplants in the rooms where you study. It helps keep stress under control.

This is demonstrated by a new study conducted by the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University, HOGENT and a group of other organizations in Ghent. Last year they transformed three libraries in Ghent, where students love to spend their time in the green oases. Each time there was also a corner where the students could not see any plants, as a control group. Before and after the study, the researchers asked both groups to fill out a questionnaire about how they felt.

Students who saw houseplants when they looked up from their books reported less stress. They had more positive feelings overall. “The most striking thing for me is that it seems to be a cumulative effect,” says project coordinator Thibaut DeHovetter (UGent). “Those who studied among green spaces often had less stress at the beginning of the study session.”

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The relationship with study results cannot be verified – although logic says that those with less stress could study better anyway. We are also still waiting for the results of the microbiome tests that were performed: the researchers want to know whether or not the composition of the sweat on the forehead? The number of students varies depending on whether they can see the plants or not.

Researchers can't yet explain why students who see plants experience less stress. “I think it's an instinctive thing,” Duyvetter says. “Many people look to nature to de-stress anyway. This equates to bringing nature indoors.”

Previous research has studied the effect of houseplants on air quality. The results were ambiguous. However, D'huyvetter thinks it would be a good idea to bring some houseplants into your home during the lockdown period. “Although this applies to virtually every work environment,” he says. “Just make sure the plants are always within your line of sight when you look up.” And in the Copyor Library, we later saw that students were now taking the plants in the cupboard there and placing them on the desk in front of them.

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