Following on from my latest post The benefits of getting outdoors what can you do if you can’t always get outdoors, and you are surrounded by urban landscape?
Well, the good news is that you can get lots of wellbeing benefits by bringing the beauty of Scotland's outdoors in! In fact there is a whole design discipline that explores the principles of better connecting us to nature through our built environments: Biophilic Design.
Even by incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into our interior environments, research shows that you can reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rates whilst increasing productivity, creativity and wellbeing! Pretty amazing!
There are a few simple things to consider to get effective benefits of bringing nature indoors:
Maximising natural light is really important. It governs our circadian rhythms and really improves our wellbeing. Open those blinds and curtains. Let that sunshine in. Especially as I'm so far North here in Aberdeen, I love to make the most of any sunlight, especially in Winter.
If you can have a view out to some greenery to build a visual connection to nature, even just a small garden, terrace or window box, you can improve focus and a greater sense of calm. Personally, I dream of huge windows like these with views of mountains and trees!
My dream windows!
Bring green leafy plants into interior spaces. Many indoor plants also remove toxins and improve indoor air quality. Ideally you want indoor plants to form a cohesive design element of the space, but even a few plants will start to bring some life to your space.
This is pretty extreme, but looks amazing!
A collection of houseplants can be simple yet effective!
Incorporating touchable natural materials, like wood or stone, or natural patterns, products and textures can also have a calming and restorative effect with a number of positive side effects! My textile designs are inspired the natural patterns and textures that I find in the local landscapes, reflecting the natural colours and tones of the environment. A few pieces like these can really evoke those connections to nature in your home environment.
My 'Lace Lichen' design takes direct inspiration from the Lichen that grows so prolifically in the landscape here.
Create a dedicated calm space you can retreat back to. I really encourage you to create a corner where you can really relax into a space and find some peace for yourself. Even if it’s just a corner of the sofa that is known to be your spot! Make it perfect for you, beautiful cushions, your favourite scented candle, and soft low-level lighting. And a blanket is usually a must for me!
My studio is somewhere I can retreat to. Somewhere I can sit and shut the door to the rest of the house. I have my studio plants, cushions (obviously!) a blanket is always close at hand, and scented candles from Scandnavisk.
To get the best out of your indoor natural environment, if you can, you should still incorporate engagement and repeated contact with nature. For it to be really useful, ideally you want to repeat and reinforce a connection to nature, rather than relying on isolated or ephemeral experience. Having one houseplant isn’t really going to bring too much overall benefits, but I definitely encourage you to take that positive first step!