It’s rare to find someone who truly dislikes flowers. Sure, not everyone likes them the same amount, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who just doesn’t like them. People have long pondered why this is so. Is there something special about flowers that resonate with humans? Is there some kind of link to our ancestors who spent most of their days surrounded by nature? Well, the days of pondering may be over now that scientists are beginning to research this exact question.
Science has long recognized the psychological benefits of flowers. It appears that exposure to flowers and plants does have some positive psychological benefits and some experts are recommending that people spend more time in nature as a way to prevent psychological distress. It now appears that researchers are finding out that there are more than just psychological benefits and they think they know why.
Throughout human history, our ancestors evolved in nature. They didn’t live in the large modern cities that we do, surrounded by the jungle of steel and concrete. Instead, they lived in forests, in plains, in jungles; all environments where flowers and plants flourish. Add to this that the modern lifestyle is very stressful. It’s said that our ancestors faced moments of temporary stress greater than we do; think about how you would react if you came face to face with a lion for example. But it’s also said that the modern life has a higher level of chronic stress; we might not come face to face with lions often, but we are constantly stressed from the pressures of work, family and everything else.
Scientists in Japan found that nature can help ease some of this stress. Having established that nature can help with psychological stress, they wanted to see if there were any physiological benefits as well. They took 31 male office workers in Tokyo and exposed them to 30 roses for four minutes. They also used a control group who were not exposed to anything, in order to see if there really is an effect. After the period of exposure, the participants were handed a questionnaire to fill out.
It was found that there was indeed a change in the parasympathetic nervous system of the participants who were exposed to flowers. This resulted in changes in anxiety and overall levels of stress. So it appears that the benefits of flowers aren’t just psychological, but they affect your actual physiology as well. There were some limitations to this study though.
The scientists acknowledged that using only men for the experiment could be a limiting factor. The same can be said for the fact that they used only roses. However, they predict that when they conduct similar experiments with women and different types of flowers that the effect will be the same. It’s thought that these findings can help physicians use flower power for preventative medicine.
Many preventable illnesses are brought on by stress; cardiovascular disease is one, with insomnia being another. It has been found that exposure to flowers or nature in general can help reduce stress levels and therefore help prevent serious diseases like heart disease. Already people are recommending that those who are stressed take baths in forests, spend time in urban parks and rooftop gardens in order to lower their stress levels. It’s thought that a little exposure each day is enough to have some kind of effect, so if you find yourself stressed out, surrounding yourself with flowers might be easier than finding somewhere to bathe in a forest, or finding a rooftop garden to spend time on. For this it helps to know where to find a really good online florist. It will be interesting to see what future research reveals.