Flowers Could Help Someone Out Today
Flowers inspire me to write.
Research and prominent historical figures say that flowers would help most of us right now.
Studies show flowers boost wellbeing
“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy to have such things about us.”
~ Iris Murdoch
While not quite mad with joy, participants of several recent studies did have strong positive responses to receiving and living with flowers:
- Flowers significantly reduced stress and boosted mood in women, men, and seniors.
- Living with flowers reduced anxiety and increased enthusiasm and compassion.
- Flowers in bedrooms and kitchens helped people feel positive in the morning and experience more energy throughout their day.
A 2008 study found that inpatients with flowers relied less on postoperative painkillers than those without flowers. They also had lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate, recorded lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and had more positive attitudes to their situation.
Legendary nurse Florence Nightingale knew this all along:
“I shall never forget the rapture of fever patients over a bunch of bright coloured flowers. I remember (in my own case) a nosegay of wild flowers being sent to me and from that moment recovery becoming more rapid…” (Florence Nightingale, 1860)
But are flowers dangerous right now?
Cases have been made against nature’s smile-inducers. Early this century, some hospitals banned flowers because they made extra work for nurses and were a risk for infection. Most hospitals still allow flowers.
This year Huffington Post asked epidemiologist Jim Thomas if flowers were a COVID-19 hazard. Beyond his professional opinion, Thomas suggested we could do better than flowers anyway.
“Flowers are the autopilot, non-thinking option for expressing love to a mother. This is an opportunity to think more widely about our options, and possibly (very likely) about purchases or acts of kindness that are more meaningful.”
Firstly, if you’re sending flowers this Mother’s Day, do check the florist is taking precautions.
Secondly, who gives their mothers flowers on autopilot? Is it you?
It was me. The old me.
Now I know that flowers confer the gift of lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate. They are expressions of life. They drive aliens “mad with joy”, for goodness sake!
Are flowers still meaningful?
A friend of mine refuses to buy flowers for his partner on Valentines day because he objects to commercialism. He says Valentines flowers are “arbitrary”.
Arbitrary: lilies, shining in morning sunlight. Roses wafting perfume from the kitchen table. Bedside dahlias, the first thing you wake up to in the morning and the last thing you see at night.
Don’t let mass culture blind you to beauty. It’s up to you to see the gifts in flowers, to delight in their unique expressions.
As for me, whether I’m a mother or a partner, I’d love some flowers. On Valentines Day, or on Thursday. Just, you know, non-contact delivery.
Or pressed. Or in soap or tea or candle form, or alchemically infused as a magical potion. Potpourri. Whatever. My heart will light up. I will smile. I may write.