People often have a simplistic notion of flowers. They are synonymous with weddings and anniversaries. You give them to a loved one as a way to say “I love you” or “I’m sorry.” When we need to express an emotion, we offer flowers almost out of habit, but do we ever stop to think about what flowers mean to us and the world around us? In a sense, flowers are one of nature’s greatest stress relievers. Not only do they have an undeniable–and scientifically proven–effect on our emotional state, but they also play an important role in maintaining a balance within the natural world. Here are just a few ways in which flowers relieve all kinds of stresses, and why it’s more important than ever for us to return the favor.
They Keep Us Sane
In a recent study, Dr. Nancy Etcoff with the Harvard Medical School revealed that flowers are basically a natural antidote to stress. Her study showed that people who keep fresh-cut flowers in the house tend to have far less worry and anxiety. And that’s not all. The visual and olfactory appeal of flowers actually leads to a measurable drop in depression in test subjects, who also noted that they felt a renewed sense of energy when surrounded by flowers. They can also make us more compassionate, which leads to lower stress levels for anyone you might come in contact with. That’s right: the stress relief caused by flowers is literally contagious. Spring for a weekly delivery of a bouquet of roses so you can make the most of the benefits.
Most of the science surrounding flowers relates to how specific smells interact with our brain to create a sense of calm. All flowers have some stress-relieving effect, but it turns out that certain types are much more potent than others. Jasmine, lavender and chamomile are especially good for calming nerves and lowering stress levels.
They Keep Bees Buzzing…
Without pollination plants would not be able to reproduce, and bees make the whole process possible. They are responsible for carrying pollen from the male part of the plant to the female part. All plants need to be pollinated, but flowers provide bees with a continuous supply of food (and work) throughout the growing season. Edible plant like cucumbers, corn and tomatoes have very specific times when they need to be pollinated, which means that bees have gaps when they need to find nutrition elsewhere. Flowers fill that gap, which takes stress off of the bees, who have very short life spans and are constantly in a state of reproduction. Remove flowers from the equation, and a local bee population could lose an entire generation and might never recover.
…Which Keeps The Ecosystem Churning
It’s hard to overstate the importance of flowers to the overall ecosystem. They play a significant role in creating biodiversity within an environment. They attract insects, birds and other seed carrying creatures to specific regions, and allow that area to maintain its natural harmony. You might say that flowers are the glue that holds the system together. Take away that glue, and the other parts of the system–from the smallest bug to the tallest tree–will suffer. Bees are responsible for spreading that glue across an ecosystem, which makes the thought of declining bee populations even more troubling.
Although the reasons for colony collapse disorder remain unknown, a recent study at Yale suggests that many large-scale beekeepers are seeing a 50 percent reduction in bee populations. When you consider that one out of every three bites we take is the result of a flowering plant, the math is simple: no bees, no flowers. No flowers, no food. We might need to stop and smell the roses while we still have the chance.