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Having plants improves mental wellbeing while stuck at home during the pandemic, say scientists. The amount of time people are spending in green spaces has been significantly reduced by restrictions imposed by the government to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Staying at home is the single most important action people can take to protect health workers and save lives, according to the government, but being cooped up inside for too long has been linked to mental wellbeing issues, including stress and anxiety.
Scientists at the University of Seville in Spain have found having plants around the house helps people's mental health.
Co-author Professor Luis Pérez-Urrestarazu said: "The present study evaluated the role of having plants at home during the confinement period as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that deprived people of freely visiting open green spaces.
"Having indoor plants was correlated with more positive emotions, and confined inhabitants allocated more time for plant maintenance."
A questionnaire was filled out by 4,205 people from 46 countries about their experience during lockdown between March and June 2020. People were asked how long they had been confined for and how it had impacted their mental wellbeing.
They were then asked to describe their environment, including the numbers of plants and outdoor spaces in their home.
Out of the 4,205 respondents, 75 per cent claimed having plants had a positive impact in their emotional wellbeing, the researchers found.
More than half (55.8 per cent) would have wanted more plants in their home during this difficult period.
People who did not have any plants (3.3 per cent) were more likely to experience negative emotions during lockdown.
The same was true for those living in small and poorly lit houses, or who had not visited green spaces frequently before lockdown, the researchers say.
Half of respondents (54 per cent) said they had spent more time caring for their plants during lockdown.
Overall, 40 per cent of people said they wanted to have more plants at home in the future.
Professor Pérez-Urrestarazu said: "Previous studies have concluded that contact and interaction of humans with nature has a positive impact on their health and well-being.
"The Covid-19 pandemic emerged as a unique and global crisis that deprived people worldwide from the possibility of visiting public green spaces for a prolonged period of time, which extended to more than six weeks.
"Our study shows that, according to the majority of participants, vegetation in indoor living spaces positively influenced their emotional well-being during the confinement period."
The findings were published in the journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening.