Whether you like it or not, stress is a fact of life. For everyone. From family life and money matters to tardiness and issues at the office, we’ve all fallen victim to stress at some point.
A recent study by Wakefield Research found 68% of people feel stress on a weekly basis, while 32% said they’re stressed out every single day. Women especially feel it, with 25% saying daily stress is par for the course. The classic physical symptoms of stress include nagging headaches, chest tightness, sleep problems, digestion issues, and even skin problems. When it comes to moods, it can trigger feelings of helplessness, anxiety, irritability, and depression.
Stress is serious. But what if I told you there was a pretty simple way of managing it?
In addition to exercise, yoga, and deep breathing techniques, receiving a beautiful bouquet of flowers also apparently do the trick.
New research from the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health shows that having flowers in and around the house significantly reduces daily stress levels.
The study, called The Impact of Flowers on Perceived Stress Among Women, lends further credence to the notion that our environments can positively (or negatively) affect our health.
How It Worked
170 women between the ages of 18-65 were divided into three different groups. While one of the groups was assigned to flower home delivery, the second group received a home-delivered luxury candle; the third got nothing at all.
The participants were told to take note of their stress levels for 12 consecutive days. The delivery of either the flowers or candles was made on day five or six of the study.
The results were pretty impressive.
The average reduction in stress among the women who received the fresh flowers and lived with them afterward was -5.5 points on the Perceived Stress Questionnaire.
Impressive, But Not Surprising
There are plenty of studies out there that have examined the positive impact flowers and gardening have on people. In fact, a social prescribing movement that recently swept across the UK has doctors recommending that people who suffer from mental health issues consider gardening rather than medication.
Recent research projects by Harvard, Rutgers, and Texas A&M University have also found:
- Flowers in the house boost the moods of people first thing in the morning.
- Flowers can help people feel emotionally satisfied throughout the day.
- Flowers and plants in the workplace greatly improve employee productivity.
- Flowers can help ease depression in seniors while also inspiring social networking and refreshing their memories.
Gardening And Refugees
It’s become pretty clear that flowers and gardening, in general, can help reduce stress levels and boost moods. But they can also be crucial to social integration.
A 2018 study on the Myanmar former refugee community in Australia’s regional city of Coffs Harbour found that gardening has a wonderful impact on the mental health of people who have experienced trauma by being displaced from their native countries.
Not only were the refugees able to grow healthy foods similar to what is traditionally eaten back home, but the garden was also a place for them to feel safe and happy.
The Garden And Your Brain
I recently received a beautifully-written and photographed book called The Wellness Garden: Grow, Eat, and Walk Your Way to Better Health.
In it, author Shawna Coronado explains how gardens and flowers in general impact our brain neurotransmitters in very positive ways.
She explains how the bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae triggers the release of serotonin when you have direct skin-to-soil contact. Not only that; being surrounded by greenery and various blooms can also increase dopamine levels in the brain.
Both serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters associated with pleasure, happiness, and love.
Can’t argue with that.
So, as we head into the cooler months, it’s important to find some room in the house for vases packed with beautiful, fresh blooms from a local florist, or dedicate some windows or other cozy corners to houseplants.
Because one of these days you’re going to need a mood booster or stress reliever.
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t.