Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? Because almost everyone can relate to stress, health professionals and wellness experts across the country use this time to increase public awareness about the causes of stress and help people find ways to cope.

Americans are indeed stressed. Think about it: Taxes. Finances. Work overload. Health concerns. In fact, according to a survey by Wakefield Research, 68 percent of people feel stress on a weekly basis, and 32 percent are stressed every day. Women, in particular, are affected, as one in four report experiencing stress multiple times a day.

Here’s the good news: Scientific research offers a surprisingly simple way to help relieve it. According to a study conducted at the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health, living with flowers significantly reduces stress. Lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, Ph.D., says these findings are important from a public health standpoint because “adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect.”

These findings follow decades of behavioral research studies conducted by researchers at Harvard, Rutgers and Texas A&M that demonstrate flowers’ ability to enhance our well being, so it makes sense that flowers would help to provide a moment of calm amidst a hectic day.

Still not convinced? Do a little experiment and just try it. Here are tips for using flowers to help relax and unwind:

  • Experience flowers: Walk into your local florist shop and take a look around. Just the sight and smell of the natural beauty of flowers will put you at ease. Ask your florist to show you what’s in the cooler so you can learn about new varieties, colors and design styles.
  • Find peace: If you are having a bad day when it seems like nothing is going right, try flowers in soothing, tranquil colors, such as blues, lavenders and pale greens. Place a small arrangement on your nightstand or in your bathroom, so you can experience the stress-relieving benefits of flowers right before you go to bed, and right when you get up to start your day.
  • Help others: Sometimes the best way to relieve stress and the pressures of the day, is to do something nice for someone else. Here’s an idea: Go to your florist and buy two bouquets. Keep one for yourself, then take the other bouquet and “petal it forward” to a stranger on the street. You’ll be amazed at the reaction to your random act of kindness.
  • Give yourself some joy: One great way to reconnect with joy and feel less stressed is to surround yourself with simple things that make you feel happy and loved, like a colorful bunch of flowers or a blooming plant. Flowers have the power to open hearts, and when your heart is open you are more likely to focus on the positive points in your day.
  • Be a friend: Do you have a friend or loved one who could use a boost? Have flowers delivered unexpectedly to their door, and watch their ordinary day become extraordinary. It will make you smile, too.
  • Color your world: Color therapists say colors really do affect our moods. The happiest color? Orange. It promotes optimism, enthusiasm, and a sense of uplift. Choose orange flowers — roses, gerberas, lilies, ranunculus, alstroemeria, tulips — to put on your kitchen counter or your work desk, and see your mood soar.
  • Pepper your house with small doses of calm: When bringing home flowers from your florist, have a couple of small vases and containers available so you can place a few flowers in different parts of your living space. You’ll be amazed how many small arrangements you can get out of a single bunch of flowers, and you’ll have constant reminders to ‘stop and smell the flowers.’

We hope this month you find the right ways to help yourself relax. It might not completely take the stress away, but small doses of “ahhhhhh” throughout your day can do wonders, now and all throughout the year. It just takes some practice.