Can flowers benefit your brain?
With the current state of the world, stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. As the majority of us are either working from home or furloughed and stuck indoors all day every day, it can be hard to stay upbeat. In this uncertain time, there’s one thing that we’re 100% sure of though. Having flowers around the home, particularly in an area you work in, can benefit your brain and be a real mood booster!
Don’t believe us? Keep reading to learn about flower psychology and how they can have a positive impact on your brain.
Can flower arranging reduce feelings of stress?
Flower arranging can actually make us feel less stressed out as it can lower our blood pressure and heart rate. Yes, really! Many tests and studies have been carried out in the past on the effects that flowers can have. One study that stands out to us features in Complementary Therapies in Medicine. It shows how giving college-aged women a fresh vase of roses for their dorm rooms helped them to feel more relaxed and stress-free than ever before. Even physical indicators like lower blood pressure and heart rates were recorded across the participants!
This interesting study goes on to prove how flowers have an immediate impact on happiness, help alleviate feelings of anxiety and increased emotional connections between friends and family.
In another study by Rutgers University, Dr Haviland-Jones reported that “common sense tells us that flowers make us happy. Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional wellbeing.” So we wanted to put all this to the test ourselves.
Why do humans react so positively to flowers?
Research has shown that having a bunch of beautiful blooms around triggers happy emotions and helps lift feelings of depression and anxiety. But why do humans react so well to flowers you ask? Well, for more than 5000 years people have been cultivating flowers for their aesthetic and medicinal purposes as well as the chemical effect they have on us.
We asked Lowri Dowthwaite, a lecturer in psychological interventions at the University of Central Lancashire, and she said:
"When we're stressed we release something called cortisol this is the stress hormone but actually engaging with flowers, smelling flowers and being mindful with flowers can actually reduce the levels of cortisol and help you feel more relaxed."
Flowers are known to stimulate several chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in our brains. These are the ‘happy’ chemicals. And whenever we see or receive some pretty flowers our brain instantly recognises that as a good, rewarding thing. Basically, it’s almost impossible to feel sad when looking at some beautiful bouquets!
Wondering what these chemicals actually mean though? It’s time to get technical.
- Our brains have grown in a world where receiving flowers is seen as a rewarding thing. And dopamine is triggered by the anticipation of a reward so they go hand in hand. Whether you’re being given flowers or see them out in the wild starting to open up during springtime, our brains can sense that something special is coming.
- You may have heard this chemical being called the ‘bonding hormone’ or even the ‘cuddle chemical’. That’s because oxytocin creates the feeling of trust, romantic and maternal love. This is a feeling that’s hard to find and easy to lose. But flowers can help to stimulate it! Receiving flowers from someone communicates trust and effort in a relationship. This makes us feel good enough to release oxytocin.
- Serotonin plays a major role in making us happy. It’s why it can be found in so many anti-depressant medications. This chemical isn’t only released by drugs or food though. Studies show that serotonin can be triggered by pride. So, when you grow, buy or send flowers it gives your brain the sense of pride it’s looking for. Flowers can help you to feel important and special.
Which flower is the most uplifting?
While having any flowers at home feels lovely and uplifting, there are some that are proven to work that little bit harder than others.
- Roses Ever heard the expression ‘stop and smell the roses’? That’s because they produce wonderful mood-boosting endorphins. A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology exposed office workers to pink roses. And the results showed that they brought significant physiological and psychological relaxing effects to the participants. In the study we mentioned earlier, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, again it was again the humble rose that was tested on the participants. So there seems to be a running theme that roses can help people to feel happier and more relaxed.
- Peonies Peony season is the most hyped-up flower season of the year. Our lovely customers look forward to it weeks before they launch and every year we’re flooded with messages about how they’ve boosted people’s days.
- Sunflowers These are perfect flowers for lifting your mood! They’re big, bright, bold and beautiful and make us smile as much as a sunny day.
Interestingly, the colour of flowers can also impact how much they uplift us. According to Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, “our response to colour is intensely emotional, and flowers can be a catalyst for feelings that stimulate more than just our senses of sight and smell.” For example, red is typically a colour that symbolises love and passion. But it also has an energising and uplifting effect on us, just like the colour yellow. But other colours, like blue and white can have more calming effects on us.
Does having flowers in the home increase productivity?
A study by Rutgers University found that having flowers in the office can increase productivity, innovative thinking and helps to create a more positive environment to be in! Unfortunately, as this research suggested, flowers in the workplace aren’t a huge part of the British office culture. France, for example, where flowers are a huge part of everyday life, are also believed to have a better work-life balance. But now, as most people are in quarantine and working from home, we have the opportunity to bring flowers into the workspace and see how much of an effect it has on your mood and motivation.
We’re all very much missing the outside world right now. Seeing all the beautiful spring flowers blooming, the leaves on the trees coming back to their full glory and the summer sun making its appearance. So, incorporating a biophilic design into your home office could be the perfect way to boost your working environment. Adding plants, natural materials and of course flower bouquets to your home office can improve not only your productivity levels but also your overall well-being.
As Lowri Dowthwaite says:
“It's really about connecting to where you came from and nature is where we came from. When we're with nature we just automatically feel more at home. When we feel more at home we become more relaxed, our stress response reduces, we're more likely to experience feelings of hopefulness, feelings of belonging and more serenity and peace."
As part of our ‘Flower Power’ experiment, we asked our participants if their flowers had improved their work-from-home productivity. Every single person said that they would buy more flowers to improve their workspace as it made them feel happier and boosted their productivity levels.
100% said they felt happier working from home with flowers in their space
75% said they felt a reduction in their stress levels after putting flowers in their workspace
50% said they felt more productive when they had flowers in their work space
Fancy giving it a try for yourself? We’re still open and delivering as many flowers as we can to customers! Take a look at our stunning flower bouquets that are guaranteed to brighten your (or someone else’s) day!