Do you have a place in mind that is restorative to you? Perhaps it is spending time on the balcony on a warm day, or maybe it is a sunlit nook at your workplace. It turns out that spaces can make us feel restored and revitalized. A quiet space with a view of nature is often what feels restorative to us when we take the time to notice.
Although it may not always seem like it, our environments have the ability to impact our behaviours, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. For example, you may find that you tend to get tired and distracted from your work when you are working in your dimly lit and somewhat cramped home-office. On the other hand, your living room which is flooded with natural light and filled with comfortable furniture makes you feel uplifted and encourages you to sit and chat with family members or friends.
Whether you are at home, at work, running errands, or out at a restaurant or movie theatre, subtle characteristics of your surroundings will be able to influence your mood, impact your behaviour, facilitate or encourage interactions, and create or reduce stress. This is why it is important to design and frequent restorative spaces.
What are restorative spaces?
Restorative spaces provide an environment that encourages and promotes relaxation and has the ability to restore one’s health. While health is often thought of as the absences of illness or injury, it is important to think of it not only in terms of physical health, but psychological and social health as well. There are certain characteristics a space can hold, whether it is a natural or built space, in order to encourage the wellbeing of its occupants. Studies have shown that natural spaces, or spaces that incorporate the natural environment are particularly effective at inducing feelings of rest and recreation.
Urban green spaces are important in creating restorative spaces that are available to all. As urbanization continues on its upward trend, it is vital that green spaces are included within the urban environment. Various studies and scientific research have determined a connection between the natural environment and the reduction of stress and fatigue, the improvement of mood, and the prevention of depression. Current research indicates that there is no direct relationship between the setting type (i.e. manicured versus wild green spaces) and the level of restoration it provides. This means that a wide variety of green spaces or spaces that incorporate natural elements can be beneficial to you!
Considering we spend around 90% of our day inside various buildings, it is important for these spaces to promote wellbeing and restoration. One great way to do that is by incorporating elements of the natural world in our buildings. Biophilic architecture uses lots of natural lighting, indoor plants, and replaces man-made materials with more natural alternatives such as wood, in order to mimic the natural world and create restorative spaces.
Restorative spaces in your home and workplace
You don’t need to design a building from scratch in order to make it restorative. Simply making a few changes to your environment can make a huge difference. Some things you can do in your home or office include:
For more on the importance of restorative spaces, check out this episode of the Live. Well. Green. podcast, EP 31 on “Biophilia”.
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