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Bringing Nature Indoors

The healing benefits of nature have a long documented history throughout humanity’s past. However, society is becoming increasingly urbanized, and less of the general population has regular access to outdoor experiences. But there is good news: we can experience nature’s healing from the comfort and convenience of an indoor setting. 

Psychological research calls this INE, or Indoor Nature Exposure. Through ambient decoration and architectural properties, indoor spaces can use natural lighting, plant-based decor, and organic textures, sounds, and scents to imitate nature. INE is associated with higher well-being, increased attention, and sustained focus, especially concerning students. Students regularly report a preference for classrooms with indoor natural features compared to those without opportunities for INE. Even something as simple as looking at a green wall can elicit an indoor nature experience and sustain attention in students. With much of our educational opportunities turning to online delivery, we should focus on bringing in the outdoors. Not only can INE help with our productivity and attention, but incorporating nature into your living space can boost your mood and improve your general health. 

Now that you are convinced of the benefits of bringing nature indoors, I would like to share some quick and easy ways you can include INE in your life. 

My first tip is to display plants around your living space. Houseplants can be a pain sometimes if you do not have a green thumb, but you do not need an extensive indoor garden to feel the effects of INE. Regrowing the ends of your store-bought lettuce and green onions is a fantastic way to dabble in a windowsill garden. If you feel confident, try sprouting a few seeds for your favourite herbs; I recently planted some dill, cilantro, and spinach seeds in a recycled sushi takeout container. The plastic lid is ideal to enclose humidity, and the shallow tray holds the perfect amount of dirt to start sprouting seeds. 

Next, if plants are not your thing, try incorporating more natural lighting into your day. When you wake up in the morning, open your blinds and allow the sunshine to reinvigorate your caffeine-fiending semi-awake brain. Furthermore, when choosing a studying location, try to find an area beside a window that allows for natural light to come in. Our UNBC campus has a multitude of study spots that employ natural lighting; intentionally choosing a location by the window could help improve your studying and your overall mood! 

The next tip I would like to share is to mimic the sounds and smells that you love from nature in your indoor spaces. Using nature-scented candles or an essential oil diffuser can really help bring the outdoors in. In my bedroom, I keep an essential oil diffuser operating almost constantly to create a space that is tranquil and inspired by nature (they even help to combat the dry Prince Georgian air!). Also, in addition to using aromas, we can use sounds to incorporate nature into our living spaces. You can find fantastic videos showcasing nature sounds overlaid with binaural audio frequencies to help sustain your mental attention even further. Playing the sounds of running water, a calm forest, or birdsong while you are working inside is an excellent way to experience nature while indoors. Be sure to utilize the power of your senses and incorporate nature scents and sounds into your indoor space. 

Finally (and I think most importantly), your connection to nature can be sustained by choosing to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh food, like freshly-grown lettuce from a windowsill garden, will support your body’s natural processes and help you live a healthier life. Purchasing vegetables from the store or farmers market is particularly rewarding when you intentionally choose produce you know will make you feel good. 

Overall, the healing benefits of Indoor Nature Exposure are powerful revelations of modern psychology that only support what ancient civilizations and cultures have known for millennia. In our digital age, it is crucial to incorporate nature into your life in any way you can. 

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