Category: ‘Research’

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Experience holiday peace, not stress

by Jennifer Sparks on November 28, 2018 at 8:26 am

We are embarking on a wonderful season of joy and festive celebration! But let’s face it, decking the halls and many other to-do’s in the month of December can also bring stress. According to a recent poll, 68 percent of people feel stress on a daily basis, and 32 percent experience stress daily. Add the busyness of the holidays — from shopping, to organizing the guest lists, to putting up the decorations, wrapping presents, etc., etc., etc. — our feelings of overwhelm are heightened, as we worry about how everything will get done.

It’s important in these hectic times to step back, breathe, and take small opportunities to have a moment of calm, so we can enjoy the holiday festivities, rather than stress over them. Easier said than done, I know! But science offers a surprisingly simple solution: FLOWERS.

New research from the University of North Florida shows that women who lived with flowers, even just for a few days, reported a significant reduction in their stress levels. Click here to hear the results straight from the researcher herself.

Could it really be that easy? You’d be surprised at how just having flowers in your environment can make a difference in how you and your family approach your day. Try one or more of these tips on how flowers can help you and your loved ones have a productive, and enjoyable,  holiday season:

Combat Day-to-Day Busyness and Overwhelm: Keeping flowers on the kitchen counter, bedside table, or even the bathroom – somewhere that you will see as you are coming and going – can help provide a reminder to take a mental break. Flowers have a calming effect. We can use it to our advantage during busy times. 

Support Stressed Out Friends: We can help our friends cope with daily stress too. An unexpected surprise gift of flowers for a friend can go a long way. It might be the best gift they receive this season!

Show Appreciation to the Busy Party Host: Especially now that we have scientific proof of their positive impact on our well being – I find flowers are a great way to show our appreciation to the host of a holiday party. For instance, send flowers to the house the day before so he or she can experience their calming effects during the preparations — or thank them after the party is over.

Minimize Family Dinner Friction: If you sense there might be some conflict at the family gathering, use the stress-relieving effects of flowers to “ease the tension” by having flowers right there on the dinner table. It’s worth a try, and might take the conversation in a more agreeable direction.

Help Prevent Loneliness: As wonderful as the holidays can be for most, for some it is a season of loneliness — missing deceased loved ones, not having family in town, or even estrangement from relatives.  This can be a stressful time, and flowers can be a real help to show a neighbor or friend that they are acknowledged and cared for.

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Stress is a huge societal concern. Stressors are inescapable – finances, family and health concerns, and lengthy to-do lists create sources of strain on our lives. According to a recent poll, 68 percent of people feel stress on a weekly basis, and 32 percent are stressed every day. Women in particular are affected, as 1 in 4 report experiencing stress multiple times a day.

Researchers across a wide range of disciplines are exploring practical solutions to our growing stress problem. Health by Design is a new area in public health focused on creating calming and restorative environments in order to promote well-being. The field is closely followed by researchers, architects, designers, healthcare workers, and others who work to promote health through quality environments that soothe and rejuvenate.

The underlying theory of this growing body of research is that environmental design impacts health, and contact with nature reduces feelings of stress.

An illustration of Health by Design in action is my new study at the University of North Florida’s Brooks College of Health, which shows that something as simple as living with flowers can significantly alleviate daily stress. The 2018 study, entitled, The Impact of Flowers on Perceived Stress Among Women, concludes that adding flowers to indoor environments results in a statistically significant and meaningful reduction in stress. Our findings are important from a public health perspective because adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect.

These new findings about flowers are consistent with behavioral research conducted at Rutgers University that shows that a gift of flowers creates instant delight and heightens feelings of life satisfaction and enjoyment.

We all feel stress and finding simple, effective ways to reduce our stress is important for every one of us to consider. Our new research offers a solution: Having contact with nature, such as flowers, provides a much-needed moment of calm to help us slow down and recharge.