Receiving Fresh Flowers Can Help Relieve Stress

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bride's bouquet

Photo by Danielle DeFiore

Everyone wants their wedding to be beautiful, and of course a big part of that has to do with the floral arrangements. But making those gorgeous centerpieces happen is a thing in and of itself. How do you know which florist to work with? Should you DIY your wedding flowers to save money? And do you really want the tulips over the calla lilies?

As stressful as these decisions may be, by the time the ceremony is over, you may not even want to look at another bouquet of fresh flowers, much less have any hanging around your home.

But according to a recent experimental study from the University of North Florida, these little blooming bundles of nature actually make you feel better about life. The research, published on the Society of American Florists website About Flowers, found that adding fresh flowers to your home or office space was associated with a significant reduction in stress among women.

Researchers surveyed the stress levels of 170 women between the ages of 18 to 65 for 12 consecutive days using a perceived stress questionnaire. About midway through the experiment, some of the women received an arrangement of flowers, while others received a really nice candle of approximately the same value. A third group of unfortunate women received absolutely nothing—they were the control group.

Unsurprisingly, the women who received the arrangement and lived with them for a few days “overwhelmingly reported that flowers improved their mood,” a summary of the research states. Certainly, if your honey has ever surprised you at work with roses, you can attest that this is spot-on. The average reduction in stress was -5.5 points on the perceived stress questionnaire.

"There is a growing body of research that illustrates how environmental design positively impacts health,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, an associate professor of public health at the University of North Florida, in a statement. “Now it is both intuitive and scientifically known that adding elements of nature, like flowers, to interiors promotes well-being."

The question is, why do flowers elicit positive emotions and lower our stress levels? A 2005 paper offered some theories: One, for example, suggested that humans have evolved to associate flowers with food gathering or the future availability of food, such as fruit or nuts. It’s also possible that we’re simply attracted to sensory stimuli, such as color and visual symmetry. Another idea the authors explore is the notion that humans evolved to want to cultivate and essentially save flowers from utter destruction: “Flowers may be the plant equivalent of companion animals,” they write.

As Largo-Wight pointed out in an interview with WTKR, the great thing about these findings is that it requires so little effort to stop by the grocery store on the way home and pick a bouquet of fresh, colorful, sweet-smelling flowers. “That’s something we can all consider doing to create those moments of calm in our day,” she said, “creating that restorative environment to promote our health and reduce our stress.”

If it means more coming from your partner, though, feel free to send him or her this article.

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