Nature is good for us, according to psychologists. In fact, there’s an entire branch of their profession devoted to studying how nature impacts our happiness and well-being, known as environmental psychology.
When we incorporate natural elements in our home’s décor, we are practicing what is known as “biophilic design.” Adherents subscribe to the belief that “humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life,” according to Timothy Beatley, author and professor at the University of Virginia.
It’s a proven scientific fact that when we’re in nature, our stress levels are reduced, our moods are enhanced and even our academic performance improves.
We’ve also learned that bringing outdoor elements into the home offers the same benefits. Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate nature into your home’s décor to make your home happier and healthier.
- Get Wet
- You’ll Get More Work Done And Be Happier In Natural Light
- Bring The Outdoors Indoors
Living in an aquatic locale gives you a “six-point increase on the 100-point happiness scale compared to urban settings’ according to Zachary Slobig, in Psychology Today. Thankfully, we don’t need to live near a body of water to derive these benefits.
A koi pond or fountain in view of the home’s main living space is an aspect of biophilic design, but since the sound of water also offers benefits, consider installing a water feature inside the home. From wall water features to table-top fountains and even aquariums, you have a lot of options.
Most of us are familiar with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that typically occurs when days get shorter. One of the more holistic treatments for SAD is light therapy.
SAD sufferers are instructed to spend 30 minutes each morning next to a light box that emits 10,000 lux – light that’s “about 100 times brighter than usual indoor lighting,” according to Michael Craig Miller, M.D., with Harvard University.
Studies of workplace lighting have shown that productivity is enhanced when indoor lighting mimics daylight. They’ve even learned that this type of lighting in stores produces higher sales and that when used in classrooms, students perform better.
Believe it or not, one study showed a decrease in dental decay in students who attend classes in rooms with lights that mimic daylight.
It all has to do with our levels of serotonin and melatonin and how they affect our moods, weight loss, how we sleep and even health conditions.
If you don’t have giant windows that let lots of sunlight into the home, fake it. Replace lightbulbs with daylight LED bulbs or shop for lighting listed as “full spectrum.”
The air inside our homes is likely to be more polluted than outdoor air, “even the largest and most industrialized cities,”
according to the EPA. Carpeting and furniture offgass toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde. Then there are the various chemicals we use in our daily lives, such as cleaning products and pesticides, which also emit toxins into the air.
According to NASA studies of the closed environments in our space stations, plants clean the air of these toxins. In fact, flowering plants go after benzene, while popular houseplants such as pothos and philodendron will absorb formaldehyde.
Make your home healthier by incorporating live plants wherever possible. The experts at NASA recommend that you place 15 plants per 1,800 square feet of living space. And they recommend plants in 6- to 8-inch containers. NASA has compiled a list of suggested houseplants and you can find them online, here.
Plants provide other benefits aside from physical health, according to Beatley.
Scientific research, he claims, proves that items in nature make our moods more positive, improve our cognitive functioning, increase academic performance and lower our stress levels.
In Beatley’s book, “Biophilic Cities -Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning,” he mentions a study of post-operative hospital patients. Those patients who could view a tree outside their windows remained in the hospital for a shorter period of time than those patients without a tree-view.
So, while bringing various elements of nature indoors will amp up your family’s health and happiness, merely placing these elements within view from the interior of the house has benefits as well.
The EPA estimates that we spend 90 percent of our average day indoors, in polluted air, whether it’s at work or at home. Protect your health and happiness by bringing the outdoors indoors.