Giving flowers is a ritual dating all the way back to ancient times. Even prehistoric peoples used flowers to pay their respects to deceased loved ones. Until very recently, though, there was no established scientific research into the benefits of this time-honored tradition and the question of whether it does in fact make the recipient happier. Now, new findings may forever change how you think about that bouquet you’re about to send to your valentine or that colorful arrangement you’re about to receive.
4 Mood-Enhancing Benefits of Flowers
Whether it’s to express love and care, celebrate a milestone, or convey sympathy or appreciation, a gift of flowers really can make the recipient happier. Research has found that flowers can have the following mood-enhancing benefits….
More Immediate and Longer-Term Satisfaction – Not surprisingly, when test subjects in a 2005 study at Rutgers University received a delivery of flowers, they responded in that moment with genuine expressions of joy, gratitude, and excitement. The more residual effects of that gift may come as more of a surprise, however. A tweak as simple and easy as a colorful vase of flowers in the home also accorded with a longer-lasting increase in enjoyment and life satisfaction—for both men and women. When assessed two to four days after receiving flowers, they still had higher scores on standard evaluations of emotion, wellbeing, and life satisfaction (as compared to their baseline scores).
A Greater Sense of Connection to Others – The same Rutgers study also observed that test subjects tended to “share” their flowers: They would display their gift in common spaces like a foyer or living room, where visitors could see and appreciate their colorful arrangement. That may seem like an unimportant detail but, in fact, the presence of flowers alone was enough to create more positive social interactions. A neighbor might poke their head in and exclaim at the pretty flowers on the coffee table. A family member dropping by might notice and inquire. However small, these additional opportunities to connect with others had mood-boosting effects.
Reduced Anxiety and Depression – Like enjoyment and life satisfaction, less anxiety and depression were measurable in both the immediate aftermath of receiving flowers and much later. These findings from the 2005 study at Rutgers validated earlier work by Rutgers researchers, who in 2001 studied the impact of flowers gifted to the elderly. In that earlier study, the researchers found that 81 percent of seniors reported a decrease in depression after receiving flowers; 72 percent performed better on memory tests; and 40 percent reported that they had formed new social connections.
Relief of Emotional Stress and Loneliness –The question of how flowers improve emotional health generated newfound scientific interest during the COVID-19 lockdown. A 2021 study asked how flowers and colors of flowers—particularly red, white, and yellow—could promote physiological and psychological health in a time of social distancing and isolation. After study participants spent three minutes looking at each color of flower, the researchers assessed their response in mood and their brainwave activity, heart rate variability, and skin conductivity. The yellow flowers achieved the most significant mood-boosting effects, followed by red and then white. In each case, the study participants experienced greater calmness and comfort, as well a more cheerful mood.
Today we turn to flowers for help expressing a wide range of emotions. They are a powerful tool for connecting with others in moments of love, joy, pain, and grief. What this research makes abundantly clear is that flowers can make people happier, and in profounder and longer-lasting ways than once thought.
This Valentine’s Day, consider making someone you love happier than you might think: Buy them … flowers.