Harvard: Flowers Boost Morning Moods
Recent research confirms that flowers might be the perfect pick-me-up for millions of Americans who do not consider themselves “morning people.” Participants of a behavioral study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed that they feel least positive in the early hours but reported being happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing in the morning.
“The morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon, with positive moods – happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example – manifesting much later in the day,” says lead researcher Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D. “Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into their morning routines, people perked up.”
Dr. Etcoff is referencing the fact that participants in the study responded to the flowers, which had been placed in rooms they frequented in the morning. Overall, the participants reported they liked to look at the blooms first thing in the morning, particularly in the kitchen. The final study results demonstrate that flowers impact people emotionally at home, causing them to feel less anxious and more compassionate. They even reported a boost of energy that lasted through their day.
“What I find interesting is that by starting the day in a more positive mood, you are likely to transfer those happier feelings to others – it’s what is called mood contagion,” says Etcoff. “And, the kitchen is the place where families tend to gather in the morning – imagine how big a difference a better morning mood can make.”
Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., is a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard University Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative and a practicing psychologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry where she is the Director of the Program in Aesthetics and Well Being. At Harvard, she currently teaches a course entitled “The Science of Happiness.”
Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and her research team investigated the effects of flowers in the home environment on well being. Fifty-four people, ages 25-60, were studied using a series of self-report measures allowing the research team to know where the person was, with whom and what they were doing when they experienced an emotion, both when flowers were and were not present. Half of the participants received a “control” home décor item, other than flowers, to ensure study validity. After living with either flowers or the control intervention for approximately one week, participants rated their feelings during specific periods of the day, recording emotions during each episode. The research team also took photographs before and after flowers were delivered to determine any changes in use or appearance of the room.
Top Floral Designer Offers Quick, Simple “How-To’s” on Fashioning Flowers for Positive Moods in the Morning
New York City floral and garden designer Rebecca Cole, host of Discovery Channel’s Surprise by Design, is not surprised by these findings. “I grew up with a kitchen often decorated with flowers,” says Cole. “My family knew instinctively that flowers brought joy to the people who came in contact with them – and now there is scientific proof.”
Cole shares her floral design experience with others, showing them how to use flowers to capture emotion and encourage community in their kitchens.
“There are so many places for flowers in the kitchen – the room where we spend most of our waking time,” says Cole. “From the breakfast nook to the table to the counter top, flowers just belong. It’s even the most convenient room to change the water!”
Cole suggests the following tips for experimenting with color to trying new, dramatic styles to the creative use of containers.
“What could be simpler than bringing home a few blooms to brighten your kitchen table and your mood?” says Cole. “Experiment, design and smile.”
Today’s kitchen interior trends – such as more prominent windows, expansive islands and countertop space, open floor plans and creative seating areas – all lend well to another major trend – bringing the outdoors inside. But whether your kitchen is spacious or cozy, there is no better or easier way to welcome nature into your kitchen than with fresh-cut flowers.
For years, Cole has been helping people choose flowers that are grounded to their personal style and taste. Now, she shares her simple advice for anyone who wants to add some floral flair to the hub of their home.
“Whether you want a kitchen that is relaxing, stylish, functional or elegant, you can accent with flowers to help inspire that atmosphere,” says Cole. “While there are no hard and fast rules, certain design guidelines will get you on your way to effortless, everyday arrangements.”
Rebecca’s Color and Design Truth or Dare
Whether your style is cottage or classic, modern or mosaic, B&B or urban chic, you can tailor these floral design tips to work in your kitchen. Place the flowers on your table or countertop. The most important thing is to enjoy them every day.
Truth: Try Classic or Commanding Colors and Containers
Dare: Dabble in both Dramatic and Everyday Design
Flowers & Morning Moods Study