Why bringing natural light and biophilic design into our spaces is good for our mind…

Bringing natural light and biophilic design into our spaces incurs a multitude of benefits. A topic which is attracting interest is the psychology of space and how we can design our spaces to best improve our functioning and mood. Humans evolved to be outdoors, amongst nature and quite active. Yet recent decades, particularly with the introduction of technology, has changed this. Our lives far more sedentary, indoor and artificial/ Spaces can often be deprived of livelihood and feeling. The reconnection between humans and the natural world is seen as paramount to our wellbeing. So, let’s look at two simple ways we can help restore our connection with the natural world.

Natural Light

Bringing natural light into our spaces provides great benefits for our wellbeing. It is suggested to curb anxiety and stress.  Recent studies have also linked it to increased happiness, productivity improved immune functioning and better sleep. A big open window breathes fresh air into a room. And when we see the natural path of the sun it helps to regulate our circadian rhythms. But what are circadian rhythms?

What are circadian rhythms?

Circadian rhythms are the body’s internal clock. And light has served as the external cue which helps to tell our body when to rest and when to be active. Sunlight offers the brain important information. The brain then send messages to the organs and other systems of the body in accordance with that time of the day. Yet, artificial light leads to external influences on light and dark cycles. This muddles up the synchronisation of the information from the body and the environment. Waking cycles can now go well into the night and sleeping cycles well into the day. But bringing natural light back into our spaces can help to regulate our circadian rhythms. This helps our psychology in many ways. Biophilic design is another great way we can improve our experiences with the spaces around us.

Biophilic Design

Over the last decade, we have seen a steady growth in research overlapping concepts from neuroscience and architecture. Biophilic design is at the forefront of this. Biophilic design is the bringing of nature into man-made spaces and has been linked with various wellbeing and healing benefits. These include reduced stress, enhanced creativity, hormone balance and improved cognitive abilities.

For generations, we have found peace in nature’s gifts; the crackling of fires, the glistening of sun on drops of dew and the soft song of the ocean’s waves fascinate us. After a well-needed holiday at the beach or camping, we hear others say things like, “Oh it was so refreshing”, “So peaceful”, “I felt like I could finally relax”. But this is not new phenomena. For years’ scientists have been aware of the healing effects of nature. And one could argue for years, we’ve known it intuitively too. After all, biophilic design is founded on the premise humans have an innate love for nature. So, as the world becomes increasingly urbanised and we spend more and more of our time in office spaces or at home, it’s important we know how to manipulate these spaces to incorporate nature. So how do we incorporate biophilic design into our spaces?

How to bring nature into spaces?

  • Potted plants,
  • Water features,
  • Courtyard gardens,
  • wooden and stone furniture
  • Flowerbeds
  • Landscape art
  • Bird feeders
  • Noises
  • Scents (essential oils are a great way to do this – see Psychology Today’s great blog about essential oils for stress relief and sleep here)

These are just common ways we can do this but there are other ways. So, why do these things improve our psychology?

Biophilic design and psychology

Along with natural light which helps regulate our circadian rhythms, when we have a direct connection to nature we are in tune with living processes. If we have visuals of wildlife, the sun’s path or a pot plant, we can see the dynamics of life at work. We see how ecosystems interact, the natural evolution of time and growth. This helps us to have a mindful awareness as we become in tune with the present and simple natural changes around us. For more about mindfulness and its benefits see here  and here. Also most important, nature in our spaces, taps into our innate love for nature. Beyond blue recently teamed with Kathmandu to write an article on the benefits of being amongst nature. Read it here. 

So if you’re looking for easy and fast ways to improve your mood, open up the windows, take a weekend trip to Bunnings and spice up your home or workspace with a little life. After all, a happy space really is one of the steps necessary to creating a happy mind.

As put beautifully by American American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1865,

“…the enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it, tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system”


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Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace advise from your doctor or registered health professional. Readers are urged to consult their registered practitioner for diagnosis and treatment for their medical concerns.

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