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Flowers Are Perfect Pick-Me-Up To Boost Morning Moods

2007-10-18 02:19

Positive 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 that 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."

New York City floral and interior 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 countertop, flowers just belong. It's even the most convenient room to change the water!"

Whether you visit the supermarket or elicit the help of your florist, Cole suggests the following tips for experimenting with color, trying new, dramatic styles and creatively using containers.

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-- Cut flower stems short and place the flowers in interesting or everyday kitchen containers such as tea tins, jelly jars, salt and pepper shakers or even pretty wine glasses. Pick something to match your personal style.

-- To make a big "wow" statement, choose lots of one type of flower. Take off the leaves below the waterline and place them in a big jug, teapot, coffee tin or water pitcher for a burst of cheer.

-- Select surprising color combinations to make a bold statement. For example, try red and purple stems in grouped vases. Or, use monochromatic flowers, from one color family, to create a simple, pleasing effect.

-- Choose citrus-colored flowers for a sunny feeling. Place a bud vase holding a few stems of yellow and orange blooms inside a bowl filled with oranges. Or, place a narrow vase of flowers inside a wider, but equally tall, vase. Fill the larger vase with lemons or limes to surround the smaller vase for a fresh look.

-- Play off of the accent colors in your kitchen to bring a splash of color with flowers. Look around and match flowers to decorative wall plates, placemats or curtains to pull out key accent colors.

-- Line three bud vases or decorative bottles, low or tall, along the middle of your kitchen table or along your sink for a fun, dramatic effect. It's also a great conversation starter when guests drop by.

-- Inspire neatness. Place flowers where kitchen clutter typically congregates to prevent future messes from settling there.

"What could be simpler than bringing home a few blooms to brighten your kitchen table and your mood?" says Cole. "Experiment, design and smile."

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