Something that can get our minds wandering and exploring in a galaxy of possibilities? An empty wall. It gets hard to make up our minds because the course of action we take on this wall can drastically change the look and vibe of the space where this wall is situated. So we take time to think about styles; we look at different designs, colours; but do we actually consider how to make this wall functional for our health and wellbeing? Being honest, we rarely do and it actually sounds a bit weird to even consider it.
It's not natural for us to think of improving our wellbeing through home decor, or in this specific case, through wall decoration, probably because we are not fully aware of how our surrounding environments impact us.
An empty wall is like a clean canvas awaiting to hold a great piece of art. If this piece of art happens not only to be beautiful but also useful to positively stimulate our health and wellbeing, it would absolutely out perform all the other options available only for embellishment purposes.
Nature images impact us differently. Learn how to use them for a better you.
The power of visuals
We are wired to respond to visuals. Our visual systems interact with at least half of our brains, sending electrical impulses all over the place. In fact:
- We understand visuals in an instant. We process images far quicker than text, even if we are speed readers.
- We remember visually, and we also remember visuals far better than words. We can remember visuals better because they elicit multiple representations and memories that words simply don't.
- We inherently understand visual metaphors because we associate objects with behaviours since we are born. This was way before we learned how to describe those objects or behaviours in words.
Research in the field of neurobiophilia studies our responses to visual and auditive cues of natural elements- whether immersed in real nature or just presented to nature's visuals and sounds. This science has examined both the cognitive benefits of being in contact with nature and the neurological impacts of being deprived of nature.
Discoveries about the impact of nature views on our brains are very insightful, however there is still wide room for research in the area. Let's have a look at what we know today about nature visuals.
The impact of nature visuals
Studies by the USDA Forest Services show how nature views help create restorative spaces, and that in fact, nature views provide real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. On the other hand, neurobiophilia's methods on the restorative powers of nature images use several technologies (like electroencephalography; functional magnetic resonance imaging; computer tomography scans; among others) to help inform the creation of effective tools to alleviate the harmful mental effects of nature deprivation.
These are just recent studies about the impact of nature views on our wellbeing, a subject that has been of much interest throughout time. And it is clear why, we want to know more about this instilled feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction after being in contact with nature. And while many of us that have experienced the benefits of natural surroundings, we don't take this concept into practice everyday.
That's not you, right? You bring in plants, natural materials and/or nature scenes to your spaces.You're all set... But wait, do you actually understand the benefits that these natural elements bring for you? If you did, you'd probably think as essential to introduce nature in your daily life as much as you think of owing that comfy bed or couch to relax on.
Types of nature displays and what they can do for us
Depending on their form and style, nature displays can help us restore; provide feelings of vitality, relaxation, and affection; helps us be more productive and even boost our cognitive skills. Nature visuals can be vivid, blurry or with lots of negative space, or just simple illustrations. Their restorative effects have been categorised into the three broad categories:
- improved cognitive function,
- improved affect, and
- reduction of physiological and cognitive stress.
Let's get deeper into each type of nature inspired images and their properties, specially speaking of their powers to improve our wellbeing and cognitive abilities.
Vivid and blurred nature scenes: Restoring and reinvigorating
Vivid nature scenes like those shown bellow are proven to improve our positive mood, psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness and vitality. In fact, it is proven that these vivid representations of nature consistently contribute to daily perks and emotional uplifts that together generate improved health and well-being for urban residents and for those confined to indoor environments.
Other set of findings by the University of Waterloo suggests that while the restorative effects of nature visuals are widely replicated, there are different visual stimuli influencing the effects on attention skills and on affection/emotional responses. In this sense, they suggest that the affective restoration mechanism, or the effect of revamped emotions, appears to be mostly responding to mid-to-high spatial frequencies, in other words to vivid and structured nature inspired images, while the cognitive/attention mechanism, or improved focus, appears to be more strongly influenced by low spatial frequencies within environments, in other words to blurred or negative space images.
Simple nature illustrations: Mind abilities
Our brains love simplicity. As much as our brains need stimulation, they really like simple ideas. Visuals are a great way of reducing information to simple ideas. Consider a plant. What triggers more desire to learn about a particular type of plant and improves its memorability: a picture showing a forest full of this type of plant or one single illustration of one of this plant's leaves. For our visual brains, it is harder to convert and recall a complex image into a clear interpretation than just a simple visual representation.
Let's look at the example of displaying separate, singular and marked representations of leaves structures. (See examples canvas in here) Leaves such as the ones bellow show both variation and similarity in form and appearance in their growth patterns. This helps boosting our mind's task of classification by presenting evidence of the taxonomic relationships between things in a way that is informative and easy to grasp. Developing differentiation, classification and categorisation for the mind is important as:
- It helps develop our problem solving skills;
- it contributes to improve our overview of complex topics;
- it improves our prioritising skills;
- it eases us the task of differentiation among groups of similar topics; and
- it is a particularly essential skill to develop in children at an early stage.
Consciously mixing nature images and visuals in decor to create the desired effect on our wellbeing is a very important process in designing and decorating our homes. If the tools to be better humans every day are on our side, what will we do with them?
Depending on the effect you want to achieve in your spaces, whether it is emotional/ affective restoration, improved attention or enhanced categorising/problem solving/memory skills, there are different types of visuals that you could use in decor to better aid these different purposes. For affective restoration choose vivid nature inspired scenes; for improved attention choose blurred or negative space nature images, and finally choose simple nature illustrations to enhance memory, categorisation or problem solving skills, which are specially essential for children satisfactory development. Mixing these different types of nature images according to the specific needs of a particular room might be best to achieve your desired wellbeing effects.
Designing and decorating our homes should consider as much possible to smartly include beautiful nature scenes as they repeatedly induce in us restorative effects wherever they are displayed. Find beautiful nature decor visual options in here.