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.