There is a scientific term that refers to our innate love of nature – Biophilia. This love of nature can be harnessed and used to improve our lives in many ways. In this blog post, we will discuss what biophilia is, how you can use it to your advantage, and take a look at some of the best plants for indoor use.
Biophilia and You
We as a species have been around for millions and millions of years. Through this time, we have evolved to become who we are today. Our bodies and minds have been carefully and patiently sculpted by evolution to our present state. The technological age we live in is far removed from the experience of life on Earth just a few generations ago. In fact, for 99.9% of the time we have been on this planet, our species grew and thrived in the natural environments of our planet.
Have you noticed how you feel better when you are in a forest, or by a riverside? Somehow you feel good when you are on the beach, splashing in the sea, or bathing under a waterfall.
Trees, flowers, plants, animals, gushing streams, waves crashing on a beach, the smell of the Earth after the first rains… all are intrinsic resources for us as a species.
This innate, in-born impulse, even a craving, to love Nature and feel better and more at ease when surrounded by nature is called Biophilia – a term coined by Dr. Edward O. Wilson in the mid-eighties.
The amazing, hi-tech world we have created has its own beauty – gleaming skyscrapers, comfortable, air-conditioned homes and offices, convenient access to all sorts of foods, superfast transport… This world offers safety and security. However, this typical cityscape is far, far removed from how Nature is.
Our brain has biophilia baked into it by evolution. Our version of the world, therefore, creates a conflict in our brain because it really, REALLY wants to be outdoors.
Learnings from Hospitals
Researchers have found that patients in hospitals who get to gaze out of windows at trees recover faster. You may think, as I thought ya – maybe the recovery rate is better. But how much better?
Turns out it is 4 times better!
Now, this becomes significant. If patients are getting better simply by looking at trees, then the art of hospital design has to be reconsidered.
Light too plays a role. Patients who got sunlight recover faster than patients who don’t. Patients who can gaze at the light of a sunrise recover faster compared to patients who get to see the sunset.
This was the case even for patients who were critically ill or severely depressed.
Biophilia significantly decreased the time that patients spent in hospitals. For some, biophilia gave a chance to cheat death.
Bringing the Outdoors Indoors
Ensure that you have some greenery in your immediate surroundings. There are many plants and herbs that can easily be grown at home and make lovely decorative pieces in offices. Research shows that even a small desk plant can dramatically affect stress levels, and boost creativity.
I find that my little money plant makes me feel better as I write and work at my desk and that I am more creative and productive with it in the room. I find I procrastinate less, and get more done. I realised this when for a few days of the month, when I would keep it on the terrace to allow it to get its share of sunlight, I somehow didn’t feel as drawn to my desk as I would when it would be in the room with me. Have you noticed things like this too?
Somehow caring for a plant, even if it means only changing the water once a week or simply wiping its leaves with a damp cloth every other day, gives me a biochemical shot of feel-good hormones.
Get a few plants into your home or office and see how that affects you. Considering that Biophilia is hardwired into all of us, you will be pleasantly surprised at the changes in your mood, and the almost magical boost of productivity and creativity that you will for sure experience.
Great Plants to Keep indoors
The three best plants to keep in your house are – the Money plant, the Snake plant (or mother-in-law’s tongue) and the Areca Palm. All three give oxygen through the day and the night.
If you are clocking your 8 hours of sleep and still feel kind of tired and groggy when you awaken, frequently it is the Carbon Dioxide build-up in your bedroom that’s the culprit. Getting these plants into your sleeping space will ensure that they mop up carbon dioxide and release oxygen 24/7 – An amazing gift to give your body while it sleeps.
You can even grow herbs in glass bottles – mason jars are great for this adventure. Herbs that grow easily for me – Basil, Mint and Rosemary. I have been told that even Sage, Parsley and cilantro grow exceptionally well, over and over again – as long as they have sunlight.
Have you harnessed the power of Biophilia? When are you going to start? What plants are you going to bring indoors? Tell me in the comments below.