Spending time around nature has many benefits for your mental health and wellbeing; from helping to improve your mood to improving your confidence and self-esteem, there are plenty of reasons why mental health charity, Mind, encourage spending time around nature for good mental health.
Specialist in psychological interventions at the University of Central Lancashire, Lowri Dowthwaite agrees, saying:
“Humans react so positively to flowers because of our evolution. There are many psychological theories about self-actualising which is about becoming your true self and being a whole person. It’s about connecting to where you came from and nature is where we came from. When we’re with nature we automatically feel more at home,” she explains.
But what do you do when going outside isn’t an option? Whether you’re stuck inside in isolation or working from home, bringing the outdoors in can have the same effect on mental health as going for a walk in the countryside.
Running through some of the best and most effective ways to bring nature indoors, we share our favourite methods to help you improve your mental health whilst inside this winter.
Fill your home with plants and flowers
Plants and flowers inside the home are more than just decorative features that look good. Studies show that plants can calm the heart rate and reduce stress, influencing us to feel comfortable and relaxed at home.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, meaning they increase the level of oxygen in the air to help you breathe better and feel more refreshed and energised.
The best flowers for mental health
A study by Bloom & Wild found that the top flowers to reduce stress and improve mental health are:
- Roses – These beautiful flowers produce mood-boosting endorphins
- Peonies – One of the most popular flowers, Peonies are known to boost people’s days
- Sunflowers – Big, bright and bold. Sunflowers make us smile!
- Lisianthus – Encourage creativity. Blue flowers (such as Lisianthus) encourage free-thinking
- Jasmine – Proven to help you get a good night’s sleep, reduce levels of stress and anxiety and encourage peacefulness!
Adopting these flowers into your home is a good way to encourage good mental health, and whether you’re opting for a bouquet of roses or a single sunflower, you know they’re going to look fabulous too.
Bringing nature into your home office
A home office is one of the most important rooms in your home when it comes to encouraging good mental health.
Bloom & Wild sent flowers to remote workers with instructions to complete a stress-test, as well as to track their heart rates while arranging a bouquet.
The experiment proved flowers have a physiological effect on the body, as 30 minutes of flower arranging made heart rates drop by 7.17 BMP.
Similarly, the experiment indicated that flowers have a long-lasting impact on the immediate workplace, with 100% feeling happier when working with flowers in their space, 75% feeling less stressed and 50% feeling more productive.
Decorating with nature
As well as introducing plants and flowers into your home, incorporating bright, floral prints and biophilic design provides the same wellbeing benefits and further improves our connection to nature.
Prints and patterns
Online searches for floral/tropical wallpaper designs have increased by 263% in the last 2 years, showing just how popular this style of wallpaper is today.
“Some of our bestselling designs this year feature large leaf motifs in modern colour palettes which suggests that it isn’t just greenery that our customers find soothing, but the natural shapes in foliage”, say I Love Wallpaper.
Using natural materials such as wood, glass and stone not only looks beautiful but helps bring aspects of the outdoors in.
Opt for furnishings made from raw materials such as concrete, or go for those with live edge wood surfaces. Wood panelling is a great way to deck a room out and make it more homely, while a marble-effect countertop offers all the attractive benefits of marble while being more sustainable and affordable.
Letting in natural light
Maximising the amount of natural lighting in the home benefits our mental health in a variety of different ways.
Including everything from helping to increase our focus to preventing sadness, getting enough sunshine and natural lighting at home is important, especially considering most people spend around 90% of the day indoors.
Letting in plenty of natural light also makes your home a nicer place to be, as well as helps save you money and energy on lighting.
There are a few ways you can let in more natural lighting in your home. These include:
- Installing larger windows,
- Decorating with more mirrors and reflective surfaces,
- Creating open plan spaces,
- Opting for a light colour scheme
- Washing your windows and keeping them clean
Looking after our mental health is more important now than ever, and in a time where staying inside is sometimes a necessity, we must work to make our homes the best places possible for our mental health.