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It’s True, Nature Does Nurture Us

Researchers are perpetually interested in how our environment influences us.

Studies have shown that continual lack of exposure to natural surroundings can negatively impact one’s mood as well as health.

The science behind the significance of ecological presence points to the fact that some modern settings humans spend their time in are far from natural, and that this disconnect from nature can greatly affect us.

Dr. Frances Kuo has investigated how experiences in nature influence children.

After administering assessments to groups of children, some living by patches of green and some who lived in areas surrounded only by concrete, it was found that children residing near plant life were better able to pay attention on the tests.

Further, a more natural environment led to behaviors that exhibited greater impulse control. Even though the green areas may have only been a bit of grass or a tree, it was clear that being exposed to nature, even in small doses, made a big difference on the children’s abilities to perform tasks. She has also studied children who have attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and concluded that time outdoors held positive effects that could be seen even after the open-air session had ended.

Dr. Roger Ulrich is a proponent of integrating natural surroundings within structural facilities, like hospitals. He studied how what view recovering patients saw from their hospital windows made a difference in their recovery. Patients who could see trees repeatedly fared much better than those that could only see brick walls. In another study anxiety levels and pain seem to be reduced when patients focused on pictures that contained trees and water.

Aiding designers in creating more natural spaces, psychologist Judith Heerwagen has integrated materials that resemble branches, forming what looks like tree canopies in the ceiling of a public facility. This isto enable research into whether or not indoor spaces that include natural elements can have the same positive effects as being in nature.

Though being outdoors on a beautiful day is likely preferred over looking at a pretty picture of it, incorporating nature into interior design could definitely alleviate some of the indoor doldrums and provide a respite from enclosed spaces.

The positive effects of nature on the human mind should be considered in design, especially in areas like hospitals and where productive performance is key like school and work. Including natural elements in spaces where you live, work and learn can improve emotional states as well as facilitate industriousness.

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