As we retreat indoors for the winter, it is worth considering how much time we spent away from the great outdoors even in the milder months and what effect this may be having on us.
Research has found that we spend on average 90 per cent of our time indoors, as jobs become more desk-based and our leisure time more likely spent inside buildings than out.
As a recent blog in mbgplanet remarks, this behaviour can take us away from the natural cycles of light, seasons, temperatures which can connect us to our own biorhythms.
Studies have shown time and again that connection to nature keeps us feeling healthy, happy and balanced, fuelling productivity and creativity while at the same time keeping stress and illness at bay.
Building design and urban planning is starting to wake up to this need and increasingly we are seeing offices, shopping centres and city centres start to incorporate natural elements, be it allowing for natural light, water features, open spaces or plants. The technical term for this is biophilia but, simply put, it means recognising our innate need to remain connected to nature.
Natural light has a much-understated effect on our psyche: as the mbgplanet blog explains, exposure to natural light when indoors has been shown to help pupils improve their scores at school.
As the blog’s author, Amanda Sturgeon, explains:
‘When buildings capture the movement of the sun through the sky using windows, patterns, and architectural details, these dynamic shadows and pools of light connect us to the time of day, the season, and our inner biorhythms. There is a lasting and healing power in these spaces, and they can serve as touchstones whenever we need a respite from our busy and sometimes stressful lives.’
Finding ways to bring a sense of the natural world into workplaces and homes can be difficult, but simply opening windows more often, or finding ways to allow more natural light indoors can really help. Amanda Sturgeon also points out that nature comes in many colours and textures, and replicating this variety in our rooms can also help.
The same is true of views of nature, especially greenery. A simple view of trees or plants from an office window can pay dividends to our stress levels, while a well-placed office plant or living wall can provide not only a psychological boost, but also create fresher air for us while we are stuck indoors.
Indoor Air Quality is certainly an issue in many buildings, where there are many people living or working, and very few windows open. On top of this, toxins emitted from machinery and furnishings can linger, making the air even less fresh or healthy.
An open window and some hard-working office plants can make all the difference, allowing the air we breathe to be much closer to the way nature intends it to be and, in turn, restoring our sense of wellbeing. Biophilia really can be that simple, and effective.
If you’d like to know more about the health benefits of plants, you can read more here.
To see the original blog on mindbodygreen.com, click here