What if I told you a simple view of nature from your home can reduce your stress levels? That’s right! Your home can be designed to alleviate stress through the strategic use of views from key locations within your home.
Everyone wants better views from their living spaces, yet few people know the physiological benefits of gazing out to a beautiful natural setting. The understanding of Stress Reduction Theory and the practice of biophilic design can be used to create a healthier, happier home that better supports your nervous system!
In this 12th post of the Happy by Design series, I explain what the Stress Reduction Theory is, how it can be utilized in your home, and specific design techniques for achieving more peace and calm.
Stress Reduction Theory
Researcher Roger Ulrich developed the Stress Reduction Theory, stating that our capacity to recover from a stressful event is enhanced by exposure to natural spaces.
As stated in a ResearchGate publication, landscapes containing vegetation, water, and modest depth and complexity help to calm the mind, reduce negative thoughts, and reduce the psychological and physiological symptoms of stress.
Read our last blog to learn more about the importance of complexity in your home HERE!
Studies of people in hospitals, residential communities, offices, and schools showed that even short-term exposure to a view of nature had beneficial physiological impacts including reduced blood pressure, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreased heart rate, and reduced muscle tension.
A view of nature can literally make you happier!
Positive psychological effects showed improved mood, lower anxiety levels, more positive emotions, and increased feelings of comfort and relaxation.
The Healing Power of a View
Knowing that views of nature, especially water, elicit positive feelings and reduce fear in stressed people, Ulrich surmised that a view of nature might also foster healing after surgery.
Between 1972 and 1981, patients recovering from surgery on the second and third floors of a hospital in Pennsylvania were observed to see if the view from their hospital bed had an impact on healing.
Patients’ windows looked out on either a small stand of deciduous trees or a brown brick wall. All other variables of the rooms remained the same (dimensions, window size, arrangement of beds, furniture, and other major physical characteristics) and the same nurses were assigned to all rooms.
At the end of the 9-year study, it was found that the patients with the tree view had shorter postoperative hospital stays, less postsurgical complications, fewer negative evaluative comments from nurses, and took fewer moderate and strong painkillers. The wall-viewing group requested more potent narcotics, whereas the tree-viewing group requested milder drugs such as aspirin and acetaminophen.
The power of a natural view enhances your ability to heal!
Design Techniques for Happy Healing Views
The most impactful way to maximize views is orienting the home to see views from as many areas of the home as possible. To learn more about proper orientation and room placement for maximized views read our blog, 6 Ways to Maximize Your Views.
Large windows are key to creating a pleasant and continuous visual connection to nature from indoors. Strategic placement of your windows should consider the intended activities of each room and where you will need the stress-reducing benefits of a view the most. Optimal furniture placement that supports the functionality of the space helps enhance views.
Consider the following questions to determine best placement for a view.
Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen?
And if so, could you use more support while washing the dishes or while standing in front of the stove? How about both?
Orienting your sink and dishwasher to have clear views to the outside can help you mitigate stress day after day of cleaning up after your family. Likewise, a window behind your stove can boost your mood while cooking your daily meals.
When you get sick, where will you spend the majority of your time resting?
Do you prefer to stay in bed, or would you rather spend more time in another area designed for relaxing? Maybe by a fireplace, or a reading nook? Perhaps in a great room with a big comfy couch close to a TV?
Designing window placement to create a view from areas where you can rest easy while still reaping the benefits of the healing properties of nature will help sooth your mind and speed recovery time.
Do you work from home?
If so, you’ll likely experience a higher level of stress or a heightened need to perform in your home office. Large windows with sweeping views can help mitigate this stress. Orienting your room and desk to face a window will make it much easier to follow the 20-20-20 rule.
The 20-20-20 Rule
Having a window with a view directly behind your computer screen will allow you to shift your gaze from the screen right in front of you to a greater perspective of objects much further away.
The 20-20-20 rule states that when staring at a computer screen for extended periods, every 20 minutes you should shift your gaze to something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This shift of gaze helps alleviate stress on the eyes and therefore stress on the mind.
The source of lighting also shifts from the stress producing LED lights of your computer screen to the healthier lighting produced by the sun.
Combining the 20-20-20 rule with the benefits of biophilic design to intentionally create views from workspaces that include nature scenes with lots of fractals amplifies stress reduction.
As discussed in our last blog, The Science Behind Biophilic Design to Heal Mind, Body, and Soul, fractals, or the self-repeating patterns found in nature, such as plant leaves, tree branches, snowflakes, and waves in water, are simple patterns for our brains to process.
The ease of viewing these natural repeating patterns relaxes the brain, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system response of rest and digest, and allows the brain to enter a state of relaxed alertness.
It’s All About the Views
It really is ALL about the views! A scenic view has the power to shift the way you FEEL. It enhances a sensation of peace and calm while boosting happiness and facilitating healing.
How you capture the views available can make all the difference in the look and feel of your home!
The trick is to know how to design your home to take maximum advantage of the views specific to your homesite. Even if your homesite does not boast spectacular views you can still achieve that ‘WOW’ factor with creative design.
Join us next time for tips on landscaping and how to design ‘WOW’ into a less than inspiring property.
I intend you see the views of your future home, designed to boost your health and happiness.
Inspired by you,
Jenny Pippin, CPBD, FAIBD, CGP
Pippin Home Designs
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I am Jenny Pippin, founder of Pippin Home Designs and creator of my own inspired living. I grew up as an ordinary southern girl, working in the fields of my family’s tobacco farm. It didn’t take me long to realize I had greater gifts and so I chose to step into my power and create my own path in life, inspired by my heart’s true passion. (More on my personal story HERE!)