We intuitively know that being outside, immersed in nature, is good for us.
Regardless of age or culture, it makes us feel better physically and mentally.
And while it seems like a simple concept it's not always as easy as it sounds because of your job or where you live.
I lived in New York City for 9 years where the view from my apartment was other buildings, getting outside was not a societal priority and the parks that were available were the city version of nature with lots of people, trash cans, music playing, paved paths and sometimes very little trees.
But, no matter where you live or work the importance of nature can't be ignored (and teaser alert – getting outside isn't the only solution).
What you are seeing, hearing and experiencing at any moment is changing not only your mood, but how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working.
An unpleasant environment can cause you to feel anxious, sad, or unable to relax and focus. This in turn elevates your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses your immune system.
A pleasing environment, like nature, reverses that.
Nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it also has positive effects on stress hormones and blood pressure, lowers heart rate, leads to better-quality sleep, improves mood and boosts immune function. A 2018 study from the UK looked at a variety of research studies involving more than 290 million people in more than 20 countries and found that exposure to nature reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death.
In addition, nature helps us cope with pain. We are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water and other nature elements captivating and healing.
There's a classic study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery; half had a view of trees and half had a view of a wall. According to the physician who conducted the study, Robert Ulrich, the patients with the view of trees tolerated pain better, appeared to have fewer negative effects, and spent less time in the hospital.
Similar results have transpired within hospital rooms that have artwork with nature scenes.
Think about how you feel after being in nature or looking at a beautiful piece of art that features a forest or wild animals in their element.
If you feel better you're right there with the 95% of people interviewed for Mind, who said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. They reported having a renewed sense of vitality, wellbeing and meaningfulness. Maybe you felt something similar.
To go even further, time in nature or viewing nature scenes increases our ability to pay attention. Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing in the present moment. This provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for focusing on new tasks.
Research on children with ADHD shows that time spent in nature increases their attention span later as well.
As an interior designer and outdoor lover, this research is music to my ears and I had to share it with you because I know you want to do what you can – especially after the crazy few years we've had – to promotive positive feelings, vitality, well-being and inject more meaningfulness into your everyday life. For you and for your family.
Depression, stress, anxiety, having a tough time focusing – these are struggles we are all doing our best to manage every day. Some simple tweaks, like natured-based artwork and being intentional with the design inside your home can absolutely help point things in a better direction.
Even if you live in an area where you have easy access to walking, hiking and biking trails, science shows that nature-based artwork inside can also be a great tool for focus and well-being.
Here are a few ideas:
If you work from home, consider a powerful animal or an inspiring landscape piece in your office to help keep you focused and intentional.
To help you relax and unwind for sleep, a nature piece that makes you feel calm and peaceful would be perfect.
Set a nature scene as your computer background. Frame a picture of a dream destination or adventure for your desk.
Hang images of their favorite animal in the wild. If they have a desk or a study area, hang a panoramic piece above the desk.
For a serene, spa-like feel add an image of water, the horizon or a sandy beach.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I would love to know if you have any experience with nature-based art in your home or if you're inspired to add some. Send me an email, I read every one.