Arboretum News

Enjoy the View

Can't go outside? Experiencing nature from indoors can still improve your outlook.

COVID-19 Update: All members and visitors need to make a reservation in advance of their visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Find updates and information here.

Enjoying a beautiful view of nature from inside can be beneficial to your health. Photo from inside the Tashjian Bee & Pollinator Discovery Center in February 2020 by Jason Boudreau-Landis.

By Jean Larson, manager of the Nature-Based Therapeutic Services Program at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Back in 1984, Dr. Roger Ulrich conducted a seminal study called “a room with a view.” In the study, Ulrich compared people recovering from gall-bladder surgery – half looking out a window into rich, green nature, while the other half looked at a brick wall. Can you guess what he found? Those looking at the beauty of nature not only had a faster recovery rate, they had less need for analgesic, fewer complaints to staff, and the staff level of job satisfaction was greater, too.  

As further research has since supported, even experiencing nature from inside, leads to health benefits. Indoor nature exposure has also been shown to be beneficial in not only in hospitals but in the workplace too. Take, for example, a  2015 study conducted by Norwegian colleagues, Bjornstad et al., who evaluated nature contact at a variety of work settings and found that the amount of indoor nature contact at work was associated with decreased job stress, fewer health complaints and less sickness absence.

Succulents, like this Haworthia plant in the Meyers-Deats Conservatory, can make great house plants, and they provide a connection to nature without leaving the house. Photo by Mark MacLennan.

Why am I telling you about these studies? Because we all know getting outside into nature is important but even with the best intentions, not everybody can get outside safely, especially with adverse weather conditions. That does not mean we should throw in the towel. If you cannot be in nature, then surround yourself in nature. Bring in houseplants or a screensaver with a beautiful landscape scene or program a rotating picture frame with images from all your summer camping trips. Whatever you do, make nature a part of your routine in all seasons – indoors or out.

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