With busy schedules, family obligations, financial worries, and myriad other responsibilities, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. But did you know spending just 20 minutes outdoors in a natural setting each day could help lower your stress levels significantly? Studies have found natural views from a window or simply brief nature breaks can reduce stress, anger, fear, and sadness while increasing pleasant feelings. Being outside in nature seems to restore directed-attention abilities allowing us to focus better. Interior designers gain insights into creating healthy, restoration-focused interior spaces through nature integration. 


The Science Behind Nature’s Stress-Reducing Effects


Scientists believe nature engages the parasympathetic nervous system which controls “rest-and-digest” functions like digestion, salivation, urination, etc. This helps to improve our mental health, reduces stress, and counteracts the negative effects of prolonged activation of the sympathetic “fight-or-flight” stress response system. Natural scenes ignite positive emotional associations in our brains due to our evolutionary history and help us avoid stress.


Studies Prove Nature’s Positive Impact


Nature-themed artwork and access to exterior green space in workplaces created measurable reductions in stress and improved worker wellbeing. Researchers at the University of Illinois analyzed over 300 clinical trials and found nature exposure significantly improves mental health, reduces stress, depression, and blood pressure, and helps improve mood and attention span. One study found just 5 minutes of viewing scenes of nature like trees, flowers, and other greenery decreases activity in the prefrontal cortex responsible for anxiety, rumination, and negative emotions. Other research has shown looking at or being in natural areas like parks, forests or gardens increases parasympathetic activity and positively affects mental health, reducing stress, anger, and sadness while uplifting positive emotions.


Simple Steps For Your Daily Dose Of Nature


If your daily schedule doesn’t allow long nature walks regularly, here are some easy ways to incorporate more nature into your routine. You should do your lunch outside in a park whenever possible instead of inside. Plant some flowers or small trees/shrubs around your home or apartment. Replace bland office walls with large prints or videos displaying nature scenery. Take short 5-10 minute breaks during the day to walk around green areas near your workplace. Spend weekends exploring new hiking trails or casual walks along scenic shorelines. Keep an indoor houseplant on your desk to view relaxing leaves and colors daily.


Simple Ways to Incorporate Nature Daily


You can easily maintain a natural stress-reduced mental state by simply adding 5-20 minutes of nature exposure regularly, you could help reduce symptoms of depression, and anxiety and improve your overall mood, focus, and health. Next time you feel stressed, take a walk outside and allow nature to relax your mind, and mental health, and naturally restore your well-being. It’s important to focus on your well-being through nature itself. This also suggests interior-specific actions designers can recommend like desk plants, green office partitions, or natural screensavers.


Cultivating a Nature-Inspired Lifestyle


By embracing the beauty of nature and its natural surroundings, we can create a lifestyle that prioritizes stress reduction and mental health restoration. Surrounding ourselves with natural elements, such as plants and natural light, can foster a sense of tranquility within our living spaces.


Conclusion: Nature’s Gift of Stress Reduction


The conclusion highlights how interior designers play an important role in cultivating wellness-focused, nature-inspired interior environments for clients through tactics like indoor greenery, green walls, natural materials, and biophilic design principles. Nature’s ability to reduce stress and promote mental well-being is a gift available to us all. By acknowledging and harnessing the stress-reducing potential of natural environments, we pave the way for a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Making small changes to enjoy more of the surrounding natural environment can significantly benefit both your mental and physical health. Consider adding more nature into your daily routine for a more balanced and fulfilling life.




Q1: What exactly is the science behind how nature reduces stress?


Ans: Studies have shown that being in natural environments activates the parasympathetic nervous system which controls our “rest-and-digest” functions. This helps balance out the stress response triggered by the sympathetic nervous system. Natural scenes also ignite positive emotions in our brains due to evolutionary factors.


Q2: How much time do I need to spend in nature to get stress-reducing benefits?


Ans: Even brief exposures to natural environments, like just 5-20 minutes per day, can lower stress levels and improve mood and focus. Short daily doses are sufficient to reap nature’s mental health rewards. Longer visits like weekend hikes provide extended stress relief too.


Q3: Can indoor plants and natural images be as effective as outdoor nature?


Ans: While actual nature is best, research shows that indoor plants, natural photography, and sounds of the outdoors can also reduce stress and improve mood compared to being in urban or indoor spaces without natural elements. So they provide stress relief when you can’t spend time outside.


Q4: I live in a very urban area, so what are some natural options for me?


Ans: Even in cities, there are likely small parks, community gardens, greenways, or botanical gardens you could visit. You could also take a brief walk during your lunch break outside or near green areas. Indoor plants, apps featuring nature sounds/photos, and walking outside on weekends are also good options.


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