Feeling down? Spoil yourself with a bunch of flowers
As thousands of people swap hot desking for home working to follow social distancing measures, many have found themselves juggling home-schooling and childcare at an increasingly anxious time.
So how can you stay positive and motivated and adapt to this new normal for the foreseeable future?
Bloom & Wild, the British inventors of the "letterbox flowers", investigated the psychological impacts of flowers on productivity and stress levels.
The company sent flowers to a range of newly-remote workers with the instructions to track their heart rates while arranging their bouquets after completing a "stress-test". After the short exercise, participants completed a survey, along with their housemates or partners, to see how the flowers affected their stress levels and productivity.
The experiment found some interesting results for how it helped workers relax during a stressful day:
- 90% said they found focusing on something creative helped to reduce their stress levels
- 68% said they felt focused when arranging flowers
- 53% said they felt relaxed when arranging flowers
It also indicated that flowers have a long-lasting impact on our immediate workplace: 100 percent said they felt happier when working with flowers in their space; 75 percent said they felt some reduction in their stress levels after working with flowers in their space, and 50 percent said they felt more productive after having flowers in their workspace
After the experiment, the brand ran a survey to find out if participants would buy flowers again to help improve their work-from-home productivity. Every single person who replied said that they would buy flowers to improve their workspace as it made them feel happier, made the room more pleasing to be in and boosted their productivity.
Lowri Dowthwaite, a specialist in psychological interventions at the University of Central Lancashire, says humans react so to flowers because of our evolution - we come from nature and the earth is our home.
"There are many psychological theories about self-actualising which is about becoming your true self and being a whole person. It's about connecting to where you came from and nature is where we came from. When we're with nature we automatically feel more at home,” Dowthwaite explained.
But how do flowers actually affect the brain?
The experience of flowers is not just a visual but also a sensual experience - so it's the colours that people see, the way the flower feels and the scent of flowers as well.
Flowers are known to stimulate several ‘happy’ chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in the brain. Whenever a person sees or receives flowers the brain recognises that as a good, rewarding thing.
Dowthwaite said these biochemical changes that occur in the body can be especially helpful during times of stress.
"Generally it will be endorphins that are to do with wellbeing so you will experience a release of dopamine which is the feel-good hormone. Possibly serotonin, and oxytocin which is the bonding hormone."
"For example, if people received flowers from a loved one or a special friend, this can help them feel closer to that person and when we feel close to people we release a hormone called oxytocin which is the bonding hormone - it helps us to feel connected to other people and during times of stress that's really, really important," she added.