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Biophilia: The Benefits Of Bringing Nature Inside

4 months ago

4086  0
Posted on Mar 21, 2024, 5 p.m.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines biophilia as a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature: a desire or tendency to commune with nature. The term was coined by the Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson to describe what he saw as humanity's "innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes," and to be drawn toward nature, to feel an affinity for it, a love, a craving.

The concept of biophilic design utilizes natural light, materials, patterns, air flow, the presence of water, colors, sounds, and phenomena experienced while outdoors to maintain a connection to nature within an indoor environment. Biophilia is not just a philosophy, it has been found to support physical health, psychological well-being, and cognitive function while providing the beauty of nature, which may be beneficial as estimates are that most people spend 90% of their lives indoors. 

Biophilic design uses the direct presence of nature in an indoor space in the form of plants, animals, water, breeze, smells, light, shadows, and other natural elements. The presence of these natural elements, materials, patterns, objects, colors, and shapes integrated into ornamentation, decor, skylights, windows, and furniture contrast harsh unnatural materials and technology to create places of sensory refuge for people to unwind and relax from their hectic days or perhaps just sit back and enjoy reading a book.

Biophilic design elements can be incorporated into open floor plans or areas with lots of walls. Skylights, windows, and light wells help to bring in natural lighting which can help to boost productivity, increase levels of vitamin D, and avoid seasonal depression. Nature themes artwork and foliage in the form of climbing plants/gardens, potted plants, or honeycomb-shaped tiles covered in moss can help to reduce mental fatigue and boost productivity. Using natural materials such as poplar and bamboo in furniture and paneling choices helps to reduce exposure to chemicals that are commonly found in construction materials.

Sound masking systems that create white noise or soothing sounds of nature encourage tranquility to help you relax or sleep soundly. Living walls and smart gardens covered in plants also help to bring nature inside and they can also be functional, such as planting an herb and spice garden in a kitchen living wall. A floor-to-ceiling living wall of easy-to-care-for indoor plants not only creates beauty but will help to improve healthy air quality and humidity regulation which may help to reduce the risk of respiratory issues, dry skin, and infections. 

Not everyone is fortunate enough to live in an area with natural green and blue spaces. For these people transforming their homes and workplaces into green sanctuaries and oases may provide a much-needed contrast to urban concrete jungles.  At the rate that human dwellings continue to encroach into the wilderness these areas may become limited, and incorporating nature into our built environments will become increasingly important to preserve the inherent connection between humans and nature.

Healthcare facilities have recognized the benefits of biophilic design with respect to improving the health of those living with chronic disease, but less attention is received in residential environments. Biophilic design in healthcare facilities has been shown to foster the clinical benefits of reducing chronic pain, decreasing migraine headaches, and improving depressive symptoms.

Biophilic design is about embracing that connection with nature and embracing it with a harmonious blend of comfort into your living spaces so that you can enjoy the health and wellness benefits that this lifestyle can provide such as reduced blood pressure, improved mental health, better sleep, improved air quality, improved moods, enhanced cognitive function, lower stress levels, increased creativity, sense of connection, enhanced immune function, increased feelings of happiness and contentment, and overall well-being. 

Research shows that constant exposure to natural elements via biophilic design helps to support longevity and ensures that future generations will maintain an affinity with nature so that they will hopefully grow to be stewards of the wild places, plants, and animals that make this planet so amazing. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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References/Sources/Materials provided by:

T.W. at WHN

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