In a fast-paced metropolis like Hong Kong, stress affects a great many people. And given the global economic turmoil, a person's mental health only gets worse before it gets better.
Regus, a business consultancy firm, surveyed working professionals worldwide. Nearly half said their stress levels had increased.
In Hong Kong, 55 percent of respondents - higher than the global average of 48 percent -said they were more stressed out than 18 months ago. Work and worries over personal finances are major triggers.
You can spend hundreds of dollars on massages or other de-stressing techniques.
Or you can buy a flower.
Solomon Leong Ling-kong, president of the Hong Kong Flower Club, believes in the Hua Yan School of Chinese Buddhism mantra: "One flower equates to one world, one leaf reflects one Buddha."
Flowers can help people relax by creating happy feelings and positive thoughts. This trend is known as flower detoxification.
"Yi hua yi ye - one flower, one leaf - is what we encourage office workers to try," Leong said.
"Take any kind of flower and leaf, put them into a bottle and see how they interact with each other. Change them every week and keep it up. After one month, you will notice that they are happier."
An award-winning floral designer, Leong won gold in 2011 and silver this year at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show.
"Flowers in themselves are quite therapeutic," said Leong, who makes a case for the healing power of flowers with the help of science.
Right in the middle of our brain is the pineal gland, which is very sensitive to daylight. This gland creates a hormone that directly affects our mood, Leong said. The more light we receive, the happier we become.
"Flowers reflect bright colors into our eyes and energize our mental well- being," he said.
At the same time, our brain has a preference for symmetry, which means that round or star-shaped flowers can help bring about a calming effect. "It is like pressing a reset button amid stress."
Leong offers various florist classes at his flower studio, and the evening ones are attended mainly by senior executives.
Participants are given single-color flowers and are told to immerse themselves in an environment that is totally unrelated to their work. "During this process, they get close to nature, experiment with flowers and achieve something they don't expect. They feel rewarded and relaxed," he said.
Leong noted that people don't really grasp how stressed they are until they take a break -like looking at the plants on their desks for a few seconds.
"Flowers are not only for parties; we need to have flowers every day to fend off stress," he said.
At work, it is always good to have a little plant on your desk, such as an ivy or a fern. For plant novices, an air plant is ideal since all it needs is a few drops of water when you remember. "Growing plants will help you to be patient. You need to give them water and fertilizer. The process slows you down," he added.
At home - in the living room, for example - something large and a little bit fragrant, like the lily, will help lift the ambience.
For flowers that have a strong scent, make sure the room has good air circulation, otherwise their fragrance can be overpowering.
In the bedroom, something slightly fragrant, like freesia, is just perfect. Freesia, which is the base of many perfumes, can refresh the body and mind with a herbal kind of feeling. "Flowers are nature's perfume," Leong said.
For starters, it is always good to have a bunch of single flowers, put them in a transparent holder, and let them do their own thing. Change the water and cut stems every day and the flowers will last up to a week. "There are always flowers to suit everyone. So don't be afraid to experiment," he said.
"After a while, if you feel the urge to mix and match your flowers, you can experiment with ones of the same shape and see how they interact with each other."
Play with colors depending on your mood. For example, if you are feeling festive, put the three primary colors of red, green and blue together.
To get a sense of calm, use colors which are adjacent to each other on the color wheel -such as yellow, orange and red, or green, blue and purple.