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Let nature inspire your next great idea

Laura Osborn
Laura Osborn
29th July 2022

I’ve always been a person who can’t live without a healthy fix of nature. As a designer, I find the natural world influences my daily work and helps me stay creative and productive.

I’m currently sitting in my home office where three walls are green, the fourth displays William Morris’ Strawberry Thief, and I have at least ten plants surrounding me. Since I spend over 8 hours a day in this room, I decided to bring the likeness of the forest indoors.

“Laura, why are you so obsessed with trees?” I hear you say. It stems from Shinrin yoku — the art of forest bathing, also known as canopy therapy. Originating in Japan, it’s the practice of immersing yourself in nature and is scientifically proven to help alleviate stress, anxiety and creative block whilst improving immunity, energy, and mood.

I believe you can also nurture your workplace well-being with a daily dose of nature — here’s how:

 

Take your lunch break in a natural setting – it will help with problem-solving.

Walking through a forest or park activates all your senses; the sound of moving water, the smell of petrichor, the sight of flowering buds, the feeling of the sun (or rain if you’re up North) on your face, the taste of fresh air — it all clears your mind and increases your positive thoughts. You see things in a better light.

Research at the universities of Utah and Kansas measured a 50% boost in problem solving and creativity in people that had immersed themselves in a natural setting.

See the world as nature intended – it will help reduce stress and encourage creativity.

Looking at screens and filtering the high-energy blue light that emits from our devices is bad for our eyes. The green colours found in nature are the most restful on the eyes, and because we are naturally comforted by green on a primitive level, it can also reduce stress.

In fact, several studies have confirmed that looking at images of nature or even just the colour green is enough to enhance creative and cognitive performance. Research from the University of Munich discovered that when people glanced at the colour green for two seconds before doing a creative task, it boosted their output compared to looking at other colours.

Observe natural beauty in all its detail – it will inspire.

I’m sure you’ve all stood in awe of a beautiful landscape; a sense of wonderment in the natural world fills us with positivity and inspiration. Look closer, and you’ll also notice the natural world contains captivating patterns called fractals — complex patterns that repeat from micro to macro scale. Fractals appear in spanning branches of trees, snowflakes, mountain ranges, clouds, lightning, and even galactic formations, for example.

Most impressively, the Fibonacci spiral is a fractal pattern consistently found in natural forms like the nautilus shell or the seeds in a sunflower. This golden ratio has captivated designers for centuries, who have used it to create the world’s most aesthetically balanced designs.

Recent scientific studies have deduced that by observing natural patterns, an average person can lower their stress levels by up to 60%. So, I encourage you to stare out the window occasionally — it’s good for you!

 

Brighten your indoors with some of the outdoors – it will boost your immunity and energy.

Doing something as simple as filling your home with plants can hugely improve your mental health. Plants are proven natural air purifiers, getting rid of ‘charged’ particles and replacing them with ‘negatively-charged’ ones. If you hadn’t guessed, the ‘negatively-charged’ ones are good for us!

In fact, plants are so good at removing toxins, germs, dust, and allergens from the air, that NASA uses them to clean the air in space stations. Really! Other health benefits of having plants in your home include reducing your risk of catching colds, improving health concerns such as dry skin, sore throat, and respiratory problems, and increasing your energy and concentration — the list goes on.

So, there is some (healthy) food for thought. Maybe it’s time to set your desktop background as a deep forest, buy a desk plant, stare at the patterns of a leaf, and make sure your lunch break involves a walk through the park — you’ll reap the rewards.

To find out more, read Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li!

 

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