Flowers: A surprisingly simple mental health superhero?

Woman arranging flowers. (Getty Images)
Help to improve your wellbeing both short term and long term with flowers. (Getty Images)

Nature is known to help improve mental health – and while more and more people are opting for house plants, it seems flowers can be particularly beneficial too.

So much so that train passengers are now to be met by colourful displays at major stations across Britain to boost their wellbeing.

Network Rail said it hopes the instillation will "lift people's spirits" during their journeys, as part of the The Brighter Journeys initiative aiming to raise awareness of mental health app Hub of Hope.

Brighter Journeys. (PA Images)
The flower display guaranteed to brighten your commute. (PA Images)

The flowers are to initially go on display at London Liverpool Street station between Monday and Wednesday to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, moving to Leeds, Edinburgh Waverley, Birmingham New Street, Stevenage, East Croydon and Cardiff.

"We recognise that life since the pandemic is difficult for many people, with many challenges yet to be overcome," said Rupert Lown, chief health and safety officer at Network Rail.

“We hope that by running this campaign, we are bringing happiness and cheer to many passengers as they go about their daily lives, reminding them to take a pause and have a moment to connect with nature.”

Jake Mills, founder of charity Chasing the Stigma [also part of the campaign] and Hub of Hope, added, “Nature is really important for mental health, so we hope commuters enjoy seeing these floral installations and they put a smile on people’s faces."

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The flowers will be displayed at stations across Britain (David Parry/PA)
Going to stop and take a snap with the Brighter Journeys display? (PA Images)

Can flowers really lift our spirits?

Studies suggest they can, in particular with reducing stress and anxiety.

For example, Bloom & Wild's 'Flower Power' test sent flowers to 17 people and included a flower arranging task. As many as 90% found that focusing on something creative helped reduce stress levels, while 68% felt more focused, and 53% felt more relaxed.

Plus, on average 30 minutes of flower arranging led to heart rates dropping on average by 7.17bpm, representing the shared positive impact on the mental and the physical.

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Floral designer cutting flower stems
Make flower arranging your new way to relax. (Getty Images)

There is also a link between flowers and improving emotional health, as discovered by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. They found their presence can trigger happy emotions, heighten feelings of life satisfaction with long-term positive effect on mood, and help with social behaviour and experiencing intimate connections.

“Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy,” said Dr. Haviland-Jones. “Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well being.”

It also seems specific types of flowers can help with specific types of things. "Chrysanthemums have been shown to lessen symptoms of worry and stress, and when taken as tea, this flower cools and relaxes our body," Sian Wild, FlorismartUK florist and director of The Flower Lounge, told Country Living.

Meanwhile, the snake plant "plant improves energy levels and can help those who suffer from eye irritations, headaches or breathing problems", while jasmine and lavender are proven to "lower stress and anxiety levels, inducing peacefulness, improving sleep and lowering heart rate and so are ideal additions to the bedroom".

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Young woman embracing friend during visit for dinner party at home
Flowers can bring people together, positively affecting our mental health further. (Getty Images)

Wild also echoes the benefits of flowers triggering happy emotions, particularly from a surprise bouquet. "Imagine turning around someone’s day through one, simple gesture," she says. "To know that they are loved and supported, can mean so much that the positive impact of receiving a bouquet can be enough to lift them out of a difficult place or low point."

Read more: The most common mental health conditions - and where to get help

On the new initiative to brighten up train stations with flowers, Mills adds, “We also hope that this acts as a reminder that no-one is ever alone, and mental health support is available at any time.

"You don’t have to be in crisis to get help. If anyone is struggling or knows someone who needs help, please download the Hub of Hope app.”

Hub of Hope helps users access support if they are struggling.

Watch: 5 top tips to boost your mental health

Additional reporting PA.