I was kindly gifted the book Biophilia You + Nature + Home by Sally Coulthard which I have just finished . What a fantastic, easy to read and absorb book. I think most of us are aware of the benefits of having plants in our home, but I’ll happily admit I was not aware of all of the amazing benefits of Biophilia.
I will come onto these a little further on in this blog but thought it was first worth sharing a little about Biophilia. I am certainly no expert and I would recommend picking up Sally’s book, if you are looking to get into more detail.
Humans [that’s us!] need a connection with nature to be content.
Whether that’s direct and physical contact with nature through plants, flowers, fresh air, being near water and even a real fire in the hearth, a fire pit, or just a candle.
I know I feel a huge sense of calm and contentment when I am out on my paddleboard on the river (even if I am fighting the tide!)
If you cannot get into direct contact with nature be sure to remind yourself of natural things. Whether that is through pattern, colour, materials, and texture. When you think of ‘natural things’, that’s the purest state that the item can be found in nature.
It can even be as simple as connecting to the natural rhythm of the outside – letting in natural light or positioning your workspace to look outside. I know I am very fortunate to be surrounded by trees with a home office in the garden, looking out onto greenery.
Let’s get into the benefits of Biophilia
1) Reduces Cortisol levels – this is the stress hormone. In these exceptional times anything we can do to reduce our stress levels will benefit our long-term mental health, as well as our physical health. If this means having a few extra plants on the window ledge that I have to remember to water every Friday I know I am in.
2) Increases white blood cells – these are the cells which improve our health immunity fighting off infections and other diseases.
3) Increase attention performance – this has been proven for both children and adults.
4) Increases focus and creativity.
5) Calms the mind and can boost self-esteem – I know being out on the water for me brings me a sense of calm and when I do get stood up on the paddle board I grow in confidence.
6) Improves short term memory – Always a good test this one. I am always asking my hubby to remind me of things during the day when we might be out. We then both typically then forget – maybe that is our age kicking in too.
7) Reduced the risk of near sightedness in children – get out in the daylight to stimulate the senses.
8) Encourages healthy lifestyle habits - I know for sure if I am busy outside walking I am not looking in the fridge or snack cupboard.
9) Increases longevity.
If like me, you were hooked by the time you go to the 3rd benefit you’ll be now thinking how can I bring these benefits into my home space.
There are 8 main principles to consider.
1) Materials and Décor
Use natural materials and choose local materials whenever you can. My local area is only really known for clay in the soil which was used in local bricks. Bring fresh flowers and plants into your home.
Create a focal hearth – if like me you don’t have a fireplace, I can highly recommend WoodWick Ellipse candles that sound and have different nautural scents.
Its no surprise that blue/teal is the world’s favourite colour – the colour of the sky and sea. We often choose our favourite colours based on our experience of the colour, remember those fun summer holidays at the beach with the sun shining messing about in the water. I think thats why brown and I don't agree - it reminds me of my old polyester uniform when working at the Bhs resteraunt - fun times but horrid uniform.
Alongside blues and greens, look at nature for colour inspiration. The greens and yellows in plants and brown, terracotta’s and rust in the earth. Think about how you can use these colours in your home.
3) Form and Pattern
I love the conformity of symmetry as it signals that all is right, but it can often be boring. Think about using curves, rather than the sharp edges that can come with symmetry, to create the feeling of safety in your home.
4) Light and Rhythms
Max out the natural sunlight you can bring into your space. Do not restrict windows with heavy curtains or closed blinds. Pull back shutters and let the natural light in.
Candle and firelight (when controlled!) will not only relax but provide a feeling of protection.
The artificial blue light of screens, mobile phones and TV’s should be reduced as much as possible in the evening time, or as a minimum filter applied to phone screens to reduce the blue light.
5) Air and Temperature
Have you ever tested the air around you? I know I have not. Use plants with air filtering leaves to improve the air quality. Choose a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and clean often.
Throw open windows and doors when you can to ventilate your home.
Reduce the use of cleaning products with harmful chemicals – when was the last time you looked at labels when picking up cleaning products rather than just buy your usual go to Brand? Maybe time to try something new.
6) Views and Space
If you can, get a view of either water or nature outside. Connect your inside and outside space whenever you can. Get out in nature as much as you can, and as a very good friend of mine always says “hug a tree!”. I dare you to try it.
If you do not have quick access to green space create a view of nature through pictures and art and be sure to take micro breaks during the day to take a look around.
Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Water is the driving force of all nature”.
We need it, it reduces stress levels and lowers heart rate. If you cannot introduce a water feature in your space, consider how you can bring in the sound through music and Apps. The sound of water can be used for meditation and to help sleep.
The wildlife around you is natures soundtrack. As the clocks change in the UK I know the birds that will start outside my window at sunrise will hear my wrath at some point but I love to sit on my deck in the early evening watching and listening to nature at its finest.
Let me say thank you if you have made it through this blog post. There has certainly been a lot to take in and you may be feeling overwhelmed on what changes to make in your home to see some, if not all, of these benefits.
Don’t be overwhelmed.
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