"Just living is not enough... One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
These wise words of author Hans Christian Anderson couldn't ring more true. Indeed, freedom is something we can all get behind as a vital element of happiness. Research shows that time spent outside in the sunshine is crucial for our mental and physical well-being. A new study from the University of North Florida found that having flowers in one's home does a lot more than enhance your living room's aesthetic appeal.
In fact, a growing body of research illustrates how environmental design positively impacts health. Let's take a look at some of the benefits that you can expect from the simple act of adding beautiful flowers to your home.
1. They reduce stress
Within a recent survey conducted in the aforementioned study, it was found that 68% of people feel stress on a weekly basis, and another 32% feel stressed every single day. Women are especially affected. In fact, one in four report that they feel stressed out multiple times a day. A two-month study asked 170 women aged 18-65 to fill out Perceived Stress Questionnaires at the beginning and end of their 12-day participation. This included 30 statements such as 'you feel mentally exhausted', 'your problems appear to be piling up', 'you feel discouraged', and 'you have trouble relaxing'.
The study included a four-point scale ranging from Usually to Almost Never. After five days, some were given nothing at all for participating, while others were rewarded with a luxury candle, and others were given freshly cut flowers. From the three, those given freshly cut flowers were found to have the most stress-relieving impact, and the women that received them experienced a 5.5 point reduction in stress based on the questionnaire, as opposed to only two points in the other groups.
2. They boost your mood
It was also noted that women who received flowers overwhelmingly reported that they improved their mood. According to researchers, this is because flowers provide the opportunity for nature contact, an established health-promoting environmental exposure.
3. Flowers are beneficial for men too!
According to a 2005 Rutgers study, it was found that flowers induced a very positive reaction in both women and men when they were randomly handed out to people in elevators. Cultivated flowers are rewarding because they have evolved to rapidly induce positive emotion in humans, just as other plants have evolved to induce varying behavioral responses in a wide variety of species leading to the dispersal or propagation of the plants.
4. They bolster your relationships
Being around flowers has also been shown to increase the level of compassion that they feel for others and are more willing to extend a helping hand to those in need. While they tend to enjoy better relationships with others.
5. They boost your memory
In the aforementioned Rutgers study, it involved analyzing the effect that flowers had on those aged over 55 years. It was found that flowers boosted the moods of the senior citizens - which should come as no surprise. What was unexpected, however, is that they seemed to have a positive impact on their episodic memory.
The explanation for this comes from another study which theorizes that flowers unlock the mechanism in our brain governing pleasure, memory and maybe even transcendence. Because flowers are so fragrant and the smells are strongly linked with memories, flowers have the potential to activate and exercise the parts of your brain associated with memory.
6. Some even help you sleep
Lavender is believed to be a great, natural aid to sleep. In order to test this theory, Wesleyan University researchers asked 31 men and women to sniff lavender essential oil on some nights. In a sleep study it was found that when they did, they reported feeling more well-rested and energetic the following morning.
7. They actually help you physically heal
In one study, which consisted of 90 patients recovering from a hemorrhoidectomy in a hospital, it was discovered that patients who were placed in rooms containing flowers had significantly more positive physiologic responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients in the control room. It was also found that those who had rooms containing flowers felt more positively about their rooms and made them feel more cared for, leading to improved recovery rates.
8. They seriously up your sex appeal
While it may be a shame, it's fairly rare to see a man carrying flowers to a first date. But in a 2010 study, it was found that women rated men in videos as sexier when sitting in a room filled with flowers in one with empty vases, and they reported feeling more likely to go out with them. In another experiment, the researchers asked an attractive man to request the phone number of 600 women in a shopping mall. They found that asking them in front of a flower shop boosted his success rate by more than 10%, indicating that the presence of flowers is enough to make a man seem like a more desirable candidate for romance.