Have you ever come home to a fresh bouquet or new plant and felt something shift inside you? Science says there’s a reason for that. A study done by four individuals concluded that not only did seeing fresh flowers (in this case, red roses) decrease the amount of oxy-hemoglobin levels in the right prefrontal cortex, it also decreased sympathetic nervous activity, thereby reducing stress, and induced relaxation. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a fantastic way to unwind without having to pay for a luxurious retreat.
In the study, one set of university students were given a few minutes to view red roses while their responses were recorded with a variety of machines. Another set was not given flowers, but were recorded so that the responses could be compared. Between the two groups there was a marked difference – the group that were given flowers experienced a significant increase in relaxation.
So why is this important? Think about all the places that cause us stress – the office, hospital, financial institutions, school, transportation (particularly airports). This is why people put plants on their desks at work, why schools and prisons are incorporating more green space, and why hospital visitors often bring flowers to their loved ones. The more plants we have in our lives, the better off we’ll be, physically (due to their production of oxygen), and mentally.
If you’ve rarely or never had plants nearby, it might be time to consider purchasing some at your local garden center. You can start off small with a potted succulent or some African violets. If you’re used to gardening outside and want to experiment with plants living indoors, you can start a windowsill herb garden or put some ferns in the sun porch. However you’re able to add plants to your life, it’s a good idea to start incorporating them. Keep them watered, watch them grow, and know that you’re helping the environment as well as yourself.