Museums are examples of pleasant indoor spaces that are safe, and stimulate an experience where you feel you are away from the daily din. Image Credit: Unsplash/Ian Dooley

You’ve likely heard of the Japanese forest bathing concept, or how blue spaces help reinvigorate our minds and bodies. But what if we don’t have access to such natural spaces?

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how to ‘offset’ the stresses of the day with other energising spaces.

A new 2023 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology by the University of Trieste, Italy, has found that indoor spaces can be just as useful as outdoor spaces in revitalising our tired minds. As long as they are hospitable, both natural and built spaces have the potential to be mentally refreshing.

When we feel mentally drained, it doesn’t just decrease our ability to reason and be creative, but it also affects our temperament, according to the 2023 study. We’re more irritable and don’t socialise as well with others – so the opportunity to rejuvenate ourselves doesn’t just help improve our own lives but those of people around us, as well.

The study lists the kind of spaces that are most restorative, in decreasing order:

  1. Hospitable natural environments: Spending time in Nature is the best at rejuvenating our minds and bodies. Such environments include woods, ocean beaches, mountain meadows and lawns.
  2. Hospitable built environments: These are pleasant indoor spaces that are safe, stimulate an experience where you feel you are away from the daily din, and are not too cognitively engaging. Examples include museums, historic areas, parks and home interiors.
  3. Harsh natural environments: These are natural areas where we don't usually find restorative energy. Examples include caves, volcanoes, icy landscapes and deserts.
  4. Functional built environments: These spaces can include downtown and commercial areas, and even busy interiors, like the airport.
  5. Harsh built environments: These are the least restorative for our wellbeing. Examples include industrial zones and roads full of cars.

So, if forest bathing isn’t available to you, consider heading to the back garden or take a walk through a history-packed space nearby. It’ll still work and mentally refresh you for the day ahead.

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