Flower Power: New study links flowers with emotional wellbeing

As thousands of people swap hot desking for home working to follow social distancing measures, many have found themselves juggling home-schooling and childcare at an increasingly anxious time. So how can you stay positive and motivated and adapt to this new normal for the foreseeable future?

Luckily Bloom & Wild, the British inventors of the ‘letterbox flowers’, have investigated the psychological impacts of flowers on productivity and stress levels. The results of their ‘Flower Power Test’ will be sure to brighten anyone’s day.

Bloom & Wild sent flowers to a range of newly-remote workers with the instructions to track their heart rates while arranging their bouquets after completing a ‘stress-test’. After the short exercise, participants completed a survey, along with their housemates or partners, to see how the flowers affected their stress levels and productivity.

The experiment found some interesting results for how it helped workers relax during a stressful day

90% said they found focusing on something creative helped to reduce their stress levels 68% said they felt focused when arranging flowers 53% said they felt relaxed when arranging flowers

The test also proved that flowers have a physiological effect on the body

On average 30 minutes of flower arranging made heart rates drop by 7.17 bmp Heart rates continued to drop after flower arranging by another 4.8 bmp. This suggests that having some time to disconnect and be around flowers did wonders for people’s stress levels!

It also indicated that flowers have a long-lasting impact on our immediate workplace

100% said they felt happier when working with flowers in their space

75% said they felt some reduction in their stress levels after working with flowers in their space

50% said they felt more productive after having flowers in their workspace

After the experiment, the brand ran a survey to find out if participants would buy flowers again to help improve their work-from-home productivity. Every single person who replied said that they would buy flowers to improve their workspace as it made them feel happier, made the room more pleasing to be in and boosted their productivity.

A Tried & Tested Solution

Previous to this, there’s been a breadth of academic research into the psychological impacts of flowers, with almost all agreeing that plants can lower blood pressure, heart rates and help strengthen emotional bonds between family and friends.

Bloom & Wild spoke to Lowri Dowthwaite, a specialist in psychological interventions at the University of Central Lancashire, who says humans react so to flowers because of our evolution - we come from nature and the earth is our home.

"There are many psychological theories about self-actualising which is about becoming your true self and being a whole person. It's about connecting to where you came from and nature is where we came from. When we're with nature we automatically feel more at home,” she explains.

But how do flowers actually affect the brain?

The experience of flowers is not just a visual but also a sensual experience - so it's the colours that people see, the way the flower feels and the scent of flowers as well.

Flowers are known to stimulate several ‘happy’ chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in the brain. Whenever a person sees or receives flowers the brain recognises that as a good, rewarding thing.

Ms Dothwaite says these biochemical changes that occur in the body can be especially helpful during times of stress.

"Generally it will be endorphins that are to do with wellbeing so you will experience a release of dopamine which is the feel-good hormone. Possibly serotonin, and oxytocin which is the bonding hormone."

"For example, if people received flowers from a loved one or a special friend, this can help them feel closer to that person and when we feel close to people we release a hormone called oxytocin which is the bonding hormone - it helps us to feel connected to other people and during times of stress that's really, really important," she says.

It’s almost impossible to feel sad when looking at some beautiful bouquets!

Natural Therapy

In this new world of uncertainty, nature can be transportive so it’s more important than ever to get in touch with your roots because it will make you feel better from the inside out. And don’t worry if you can’t leave the house, studies have shown that just looking at a flower can be as powerful.

"There's some encouraging research that shows that we can, as much as possible, bring the outdoors inside in various ways that can actually still act like a connection to nature even though we're not physically in nature,” explains Ms Dothwaite.

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