by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
In today’s fast-paced world, stress is increasing. Along with the amount of time we spend indoors.
On average, people spend 90% of their time indoors, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1) The need for a low-stress, indoor environment is more important than ever.
Studies show that indoor environments that have wood, plants, and other natural elements improve health. However, there are chemicals in wood—particularly in composite wood, wood glues, and wood finishes—that can adversely affect health. It’s important to understand how to choose woods that are contributing positively to an indoor environment.
While the benefits of wood is a relatively new field of study, evidence stemming back to the 1960s show that incorporating nature indoors can decrease stress, and improve our psychological and physical states. (2)
“After an extensive literature review of the last 15 years, it is clear that there are significant health benefits [psychological and physical] associated with the presence of these natural elements [wood, plants and views of nature] in an indoor setting. Some of these benefits include reduced stress, increased pain tolerance, improved task performance, increased sense of well-being and attentional focus recovery, and heightened natural killer activity.” (3)
Studies show that indoor environments with natural lighting, wood, plants, and other forms of nature prompt feelings of warmth, relaxation, and comfort. (4) Health benefits of having wood, plants, and elements of nature indoors include: (5)
However, be aware that natural molds and allergens can be found in natural materials. For example, reclaimed wood could contain lead paint and mold. So be vigilant when studying what you buy, and use caution when choosing the types of wood to use.
When buying or installing wood products in the home, consider that:
I hope the tips above help you create an indoor environment that is good for your mind, body, and spirit. If you have any tips or photos you'd like to share, please tag me on Instagram @sophiagushee.
(2)(3)(4)(5) The University of British Columbia
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