How you can use your home to reduce stress

Many people find being in nature relaxing. For British designer and interior design expert Oliver Heath, it makes perfect sense. “As evolution progressed, we had to find habitable, thriving environments that provided food, water, shelter and fuel, hunting and building materials,” he says. Plants, natural light and water – these were “essential signs” that a place could support life.

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Even modern humans would still carry this deep connection with nature, says Heath. In this way, the sight of plants or water can, for example, slow down our heartbeat, lower our blood pressure or give us a feeling of security. According to Heath, who specializes in “biophilic” design, these phenomena can be used to create an environment in the home or office that, for example, reduces stress. It doesn’t even have to be expensive.

Eight tips on how to create an environment that improves physical and mental well-being.

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1. Use the many talents of plants

“Plants can regulate the temperature and humidity in our homes,” says Heath in an interview with the editorial network Germany. They can remove toxins, produce oxygen and reduce CO2 or even improve the acoustics in rooms. Plants also have an impact on our mental health: we are very familiar with the color green and natural patterns and shapes, explains Heath. A study has shown, for example, that plants in the workplace lead to greater satisfaction and productivity, among other things. “We have 90 plants hanging from the ceiling in our office,” says Heath. But even in small rooms it makes sense to hang plants, for example to save space.

2. More light!

Natural light connects us with the time of day and the weather and is important for our biorhythm. Here, effects can be achieved with simple means, says Heath. “Opening the curtains or cleaning the windows regularly will allow more natural light into your home.”

3. Rearrange furniture, create rooms

Why not place the desk in front of the window? Anyone who looks out the window at nature while working creates a “micro-recreational space for work”. The view of the landscape, the movement of the plants, connects people with nature, the weather, the time of day. “It can improve your well-being.”

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In general, according to Heath, you should create space for your own needs: For example, if you have a stressful day, you need a bedroom where you can relax and unwind. And since interpersonal relationships with other people are one of the most important components of happiness, spaces are needed that enable this connection – for example, with a dining table.

If you want to delve deeper into the topic, you can take a look at the book by design expert Heath (photo) “Design a Healthy Home: 100 ways to transform your space for physical and mental wellbeing”.

4. Natural shapes – instead of straight lines

Whether doors, shelves or tables – straight lines and sharp edges dominate in many rooms. This is more of a hindrance to our psyche. According to the design expert, this is because shapes and colors that we know from nature make us feel more comfortable and relaxed. “Think of the soft edges, the shapes of the leaves – and how different they are from the artificial, geometric shapes of buildings and furniture.” The current trend of integrating natural patterns and shapes in the home is therefore very beneficial.

5. Relax with solid wood

“Humans have a very sensitive sense of touch,” says Heath. You could very quickly distinguish between plastic that looks like wood and real wood. His tip: If you buy furniture, it must be made of real wood. It even has an effect on heart palpitations. “Studies have shown that wood in classrooms can reduce heart rate by 7,600 beats per day.”

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6. Consciously differentiate

“Things that serve a functional purpose don’t need to be seen all the time,” says Heath. Tools, clothes, office supplies – all this can be stored behind closed cabinet doors. Instead, there should be many more things to see that “evoke a sense of joy.” For example, memories of a lovely holiday.

7. Let yourself be less influenced by trends

According to Heath, many people follow trends and fashions when decorating their homes. “Instead of asking yourself how the home looks and whether it will impress other people, you should probably ask how your home will make you feel.” How does it support your physical well-being, your senses? Does it stimulate you in the morning and calm you down in the evening? It is more important than impressing other people.

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8. Know your own comfort level

Some people feel comfortable in a minimalist environment, others in spaces where the motto applies, “the more decoration, colors and patterns, the better” Because everyone, according to Heath, has different visual, acoustic and olfactory “wellness levels”. What is good for us – whether we are sensitive to loud noises or strong smells or whether we dislike smooth surfaces – we would normally know for ourselves. It is therefore about consciously perceiving and taking into account our individual sensory preferences.

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