There is a reason why we send people flowers when they are ill, have received bad news, or are celebrating a holiday or other joyous occasion – flowers lift the spirits. Giving and receiving flowers is an antiquated custom that shows no signs of stopping. We send flowers to apologize, to say “I love you,” or show somebody that we are thinking of him or her. The old adage about stopping and smelling the roses exists for a reason – flowers heal.
The smell of flowers can enliven, relax, or induce happiness. It can instantly call up memories. Smell is a very powerful sense, and it is said that it evokes memory more so than the other four senses. Roses can bring on a happy mood in one sniff. The scent of lavender induces sleep. Lilac flowers evoke sensations of antiquity. Within these generalities, flower scents can mean something different for each individual.
There has been quite a bit of research into the therapeutic effects of color on the human mind and emotional state. Some colors are said to promote physical and mental healing. Give yellow flowers to someone with abdominal pain, as yellow is said to relieve cramps in that area of the body. Orange and red blooms can help with breathing difficulties. Lavender, blue, periwinkle, and purple flowers bring relaxation and calm.
Just being surrounded by beautiful things heals the mind and heart. This is why some people feel so stressed in a messy, cluttered environment – they crave beauty and order. Flowers, being both symmetrical and softly natural, provide a balance between free form and order.
Touching flowers can also have a healing effect. This is called psychometry, and involves transmitting the life-energy of the flower into the mind of the person. Even if you don’t subscribe to psychometry, the soft and velvety petals of a flower feel lovely and enhance the experiences of the other senses.
Flowers for Seniors
It is interesting to note how flowers have been shown to have a special positive effect on seniors. This age group is prone to depression and memory loss, and the accompanying withdrawal from society these troubles bring.
A significant study and follow-up research in 2000 and 2001 indicated that flowers had a profound effect on these issues. Depression decreased significantly among those seniors in the study who received flowers. Amazingly, memory was also enhanced among the flower recipients – short-term and long-term.
Another astonishing find from this research was the increase in social companionship among the flower recipients. They actually expanded their social contacts and were more engaged with their community members.
So there are more reasons than just pretty smells to stop and smell the flowers!