When you send a bouquet, you truly are sending happiness. This is really not new information; people have been giving flowers as gifts to each other since ancient times. As a florist, I witness this phenomenon every day. However, now, numerous scientific studies have proven that flowers have positive effects on the brain; they elevate mood, reduce stress, and even help people to heal faster through color, scent, and symbolism. Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness never witnessed someone receiving flowers!
The Brain-Changing Smile
One famous study found that women who received flowers smiled the Duchenne, or brain changing, smile, which is a smile of true enjoyment associated with crinkling around the eyes and raising of the cheeks. This smile is associated with positive emotions and related changes in the brain. Gifts of fruit and candles did not elicit this kind of smile, nor did fake flowers. These women also tended to initiate contact with family members or friends and to be more social after receiving the flowers.
Photo by: HitchChic (Flickr)
Flowers Reduce Stress and Stimulate the Brain
Other research on older adults found that those who got flowers performed better on memory tests and were happier. In a similar vein, keeping plants and flowers in the workplace has been found to stimulate the minds of workers by helping them concentrate, leading to more accurate and higher-quality work. Additional studies have proven that flowers relieve anxiety and depression and foster compassion towards others.
Flowers Speed Healing
Much research has been done on how flowers affect healing rates of hospital patients. The presence of flowers in patient recovery rooms greatly reduces the healing time. Even a view of a garden through the window helps accelerate healing time. Horticultural therapy, in which patients care for plants, has been proven to reduce recovery time after procedures as well.
Photo by: anasararojas (Flickr)
Symbolism Speaks Volumes
So how do flowers produce all of these wonderful changes in the brain? One way is through their symbolism. Throughout history, flowers have symbolized life, growth, fertility, and renewal. They are the harbingers of spring and new life after winter, which may be part of the reason why they make people feel rejuvenated. In my opinion, a bouquet is a symbol of someone’s love and goodwill toward another person, and that alone is reason for happiness.
Flowers elevate mood through color — the effects of colors on the brain are well-known. Yellow, peach, warm pink, and subtle greens are nurturing colors. Pinks and purples send a message of comfort, intimacy, and nostalgia. Reds, oranges, and hot pinks are sensuous and passionate. Blues, greens, and purples are calming and relaxing colors. A variety of bright and bold-colored flowers sends a message of celebration.
Photo by: Luke Price (Flickr)
Fragrance is another way that flowers affect the brain. For example, phenylethylamine is a chemical in roses that gives them their signature scent. This chemical holds an amino acid that slows the breakdown of beta endorphins; beta endorphins are hormones responsible for making us feel euphoric and in love. Other flower scents help promote sleep, relaxation and health. A whole field of study is devoted to aromatherapy and how it affects the brain.
Who knew that something as simple as a flower could have all of these amazing beneficial effects on the human brain? Well, all of us who have ever received flowers, really. Science is now proving what we have always known to be true.
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