Have you been feeling stressed or anxious in your own home? Well, good interior design could be the solution to your problems; natural materials can enhance good physical and mental health so including these in your design can create a more stress-free life. In this article, I’ll explore how natural materials in interior design can boost mental health and offer some stylish ways you can incorporate them into your own home.
what are the positive effects of natural materials?
According to a study by the Mental Health Foundation (2022), 70% of UK adults agreed that nature improves their mood and 49% said nature helps them cope with stress.
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The Longing milk hand towel – Harrods £22.50
I have a strong sense of gratitude when I’m out in nature and this isn’t uncommon – studies show nature is the key to feeling like life is worthwhile.
As humans, we have a connection to nature; we have lived off the land for centuries – bringing nature into your living space can help regain that connection and in turn, improve your mental health.
Although natural materials, like bare wood and plants are effective, landscape pictures can also do the trick. Again, lots of scientists have proved that staring at images of nature can have calming effects. Just thinking of green fields is making me sigh and go ‘ahhhh’.
Natural materials can reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in your home which can make you feel physically up to scratch; we all know when we feel physically well, we can feel mentally well too – there is a huge mind and body connection.
Ochre gingham wool blanket – Piglet in Bed £129
Aside from this, our connection to nature means that natural materials can make you feel calm, centred, stress-free and cognitively sharp.
The Japanese are infamous for using forest bathing as a way to reduce blood pressure – they believe in the healing power of nature; it has been proven by the University of British Columbia that seeing wooden panelling in your home can have similar healing powers. Not only this, but wooden beds can improve heart health and hospital patients can heal quicker in wooden surroundings.
Supporting our environment by using natural rather than man-made materials also has a positive effect on our mental wellbeing because we feel like we’re making a difference. I don’t know about you, but when I’m using something I know won’t harm the environment, I have a bit more bounce in my steps.
Advantages of natural materials
There are an abundance of advantages to using natural materials in your home; I’ve listed a few below:
- good for your physical health
- good for your mental health
- good looking
- you can reap the benefits of nature while you’re inside and at home
- wood has antibacterial properties
- wood improves air quality because it moderates humidity
The Little Botanical Sanseveria – John Lewis £44
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How does nature help with stress?
Society today is full of attention-grabbing and anxiety-inducing stimulus (yeah, I’m looking at you telephone) which can be very overwhelming and (you guessed it) stressful, but nature helps us feel connected to the Universe – this sense of awe can reduce stress massively and make our day-to-day problems seem less important.
Nature reduces stress responses in our bodies which helps us feel calmer: it lowers your cortisol, heart rate and blood pressure.
When I’m truly immersed in nature, I find it difficult to be unhappy which is the case for many other people; nature creates feelings of joy and happiness – the opposite of stress.
Dipped pot – Patch Plants – £45
how does the natural environment help mental health?
Humans have had a deep connection to nature for thousands of years, but in recent years we’ve become more ‘switched on’ and ‘plugged in than ever’ (have you tried going anywhere without your phone lately? Cuz, same) – urban environments are expanding rapidly and they’re not always the best for our brains.
Going back to our roots and reconnecting with nature can improve concentration levels, creativity and happiness – all of which are essential for good mental health.
how to incorporate natural materials into your interior design:
Now I’ve shown you why nature is so important for us humans and how natural materials in interior design can boost mental health, it’s time to discover some ways you can incorporate these materials into your own stunning abode. With these tips, we’ll have it looking like a jungle in no time.
Hard Wood Flooring
Solid parawood flooring – Homebase, £40 per M2
Ashstead ladder shelf, oak – Homebase £117
Rustic style solid wood shelf with brackets – Etsy £9.90
Vinto 50cm wood and metal wall shelf – La Redoute £40
Rustic chunky shelf with brackets – Etsy £17
Kitchen worktops and benches
Solid oak kitchen worktop – 300 x 60 x 4 cm – Homebase £425
Plants & Flowers
Large Monstera Swiss cheese plant – M&S £28
The little botanical Monstera – John Lewis £33
Foli8 fiddle leaf fig plant – Urban Outfitters £48
Succulent in eno duo pot 13 cm – Homebase £11.95
Woolmark pure wool blanket – La Redoute £60
Evelina Kroon wool blanket – Arket £79
Stackelbergs Stockholm mohair blanket – Arket £179
Oatmeal striped table cloth – Piglet in Bed £89
Pear tickling stripe linen bundle – Piglet in Bed £303
Lyra cushion cover – The White Company £32
Jute cushion – Dunelm £16
Merino wool pillow – Piglet in Bed £69
The Rug Company deep pile merino rug – Harrods £9,675
Gooch luxury hand knotted rug – John Lewis £350
Modern country square wicker basket – John Lewis £30
Country water hyacinth storage basket – John Lewis £28
Marble toothbrush holder – John Lewis £25
Leckford Farm marble pastry board – John Lewis £35
Terracotta thumb watering pot – TOAST £35
Aftas rectangular jute rug – La Redoute £75
Braided jute rug – The White Company £345
Treefloor natural plain cork tiles – Amazon £14.99
Liga living ice grey cork trivet
Set of 4 rectangular cork placemats – Dunelm £14
Set of 2 cork placemats – Habitat £10.25
Round cork coasters set of 4 – John Lewis £8
How natural materials in interior design can boost mental health in summary:
- Humans have a strong connection to nature so bringing the outside in deepens this connection and has a positive effect on our mental health.
- Natural interiors look good and they’re durable.
- Nature makes us feel as though life is worth while so seeing it in our home, with natural products and materials, reminds us of that.
- Natural materials reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in our home and materials like wood, can even moderate air humidity.
- Much like being out in nature, natural materials can reduce blood pressure, cortisol levels and even help you heal quicker in hospital.
- Using natural materials is more sustainable – when we feel like we’re looking after the planet we can feel like better people; this boost in self-esteem can improve our mental health.