According to psychologists, nature is good for us. In fact, an entire branch of the profession – environmental psychology – is dedicated to studying how nature impacts our happiness and well-being.
When we incorporate natural elements in our home décor, we practice what is known as “biophilic design.” Adherents to this design philosophy believe that “humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life,” says 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.
Bringing outdoor elements into your Southern Maryland home offers the same benefits. Let’s look at how you can incorporate nature into your home décor to make your home happier and healthier.
Living in an aquatic place gives you a “6-point increase on the 100-point happiness scale compared to urban settings,” reports Zachary Slobig in Psychology Today. Even though water is all around us here in Southern Maryland, you don’t have to live on the shore to derive these benefits.
Placing a koi pond or fountain in view of your home’s main living space is one aspect of biophilic design, but the sound of water also offers benefits. You can get that sound from a water feature inside your home, from wall-mounted water features to table-top fountains or aquariums. You have a lot of options.
You’ll Get More Work Done and Be Happier in Natural Light
Most of us have heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that typically occurs when the days get shorter. One of the more holistic treatments for SAD is light therapy.
Those who suffer from SAD 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.”
Bring the Outdoors Indoors
According to the EPA, the air inside our homes is likely to be more polluted than outdoor air, “even the largest and most industrialized cities.” Carpeting and furniture emit toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde. Then there are the various chemicals we use daily, like cleaning products and pesticides, which also release 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 Southern Maryland 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, which you can find 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. The patients who could see a tree outside their window 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.
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