A walk in the woods; an afternoon at the beach just listening to the waves; reading in the park…now more than ever, we all need a little bit of time for ourselves, and getting this time outside has many additional benefits. Spending time outside has been found to improve mood, focus, and can even help us heal quicker. Studies show that by just looking at trees, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.
Getting to the beach or going on a hike may not always be an option, but we can create our own green space for some peace and quiet by incorporating a few natural and sensory elements into our space. Whether you’re ensconced in lots of wooded acreage or your “outside” is a fire escape, you can design a calming escape without having to leave your home.
ADD SOME COLOR
The quickest way to create a vibe is through color. Studies have shown the color green evokes feelings of peace, rest, and security. To naturally incorporate the hue, you can quickly transform any space into its own little oasis with plants. Keep the materials (pots or blooms, for example) monochromatic for drama. Soft tones like white, grey, beige, or light pink can elicit a sense of relaxation and calmness.
If you want to make a space really functional, find plants and herbs that have a dual purpose such as a eucalyptus plant (to heal), citronella and lemongrass (to keep away bugs), or basil (to cook with).
GrandinRoad Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree,, $159.00
SET THE MOOD WITH LIGHTING
Lighting can affect your mood, emotions, and even your productivity. Avoid turning on strong ceiling lights, and replace harsh fluorescent bulbs. Opt for floor or side table lamps with soft light. You can also hang twinkling outdoor string lights or position flameless candles around a space to create intimacy and establish a natural perimeter.
CREATE AMBIANCE WITH SOUND
If you have noisy neighbors—human, animal, or traffic—you can mitigate some of that by creating your own soundscape. While white and brown noise help with sleep, studies have shown that nature sounds help to instill a sense of calm. Place some portable speakers in a designated area or get some great noise-cancelling headphones. We like the Synctuition app, composed of immersive music that takes guided meditation to the next level. “The music is encoded with special frequencies that helps the body relax, “says Michael Burich, co-founder and COO of Synctuition.
Outdoor Lamp Speaker, $159.00
INCLUDE THE ELEMENTS
A tabletop water fountain can provide an inexpensive sense of calm and ease, no matter what your view. It can also provide a good focal point for your outdoor space. Scientific Reports explain water sounds can restore the body and soul, reduce our body’s natural fight-or-flight instinct, and increase the parasympathetic response—the one that’s responsible for the calm you feel after a yoga class or meditation session.
Tabletop Fountain with Candles, $37.00
This sounds obvious, but it’s not. Is your chair too hard? Is there nowhere to put your cup of tea? The furniture in your space can make (or break) your Zen. Laura Burns Lambert, sensory designer for Ambius, a company that specializes in interior and exterior landscaping for commercial spaces says “Compact spaces should start from the bottom up to keep your eyes visually interested.” No matter the size of your space, just a couple key pieces can really help you to relax. According to Lambert, “all you really need is a soft rug, some floor pillows, a small side table, and a cozy chair.”
Knit Pouf Ottoman- 2-pack, $179.50
(photo credit: Shutterstock, Getty)