Go Green: The future of healthy living
Today greenery is featured as part of business and living establishments beyond the element of décor. Greenery in houses and establishments are in fact helping individuals in their healing processes too. Healing through plants is effected through the supply of fresh oxygen, absorption of toxins and propagation of clean, good energy.
The practice of growing plants around us is not a new concept but a practice groomed by our ancestors. Tulsi, that is grown in homes and worshipped is one of the most healing plants with medicinal properties. Karpooravalli or the Mexican mint, another medicinal herb is grown indoors and has great medicinal uses too.
Now the therapeutic quality of plants and trees have been best garnered in hospitals and retirement homes. While the design of outdoor space is being brainstormed, architects take much care to fill the space with a good percentage of greenery. A fair percent of architects agree with the fact that gardens have a profound healing effect on patients and old people.
The first effort
American environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich was the first to file a detailed research report on the effects of the controlled environment on quantified health outcomes, particularly on those recovering from surgery and infections. It was also the first time hospitals started factoring in stress as a hindrance to patients’ recovery.
How nature heals
In fact, researches show that patients in hospitals with windows looking out into a tree or a green patch recover faster without any post-surgical complications than those who were staring at concrete walls. Even pictures of landscapes are found to have a good effect on patients.
Nature relaxes them, plugs the anxiety and fatigue in their minds and fills them with a feeling of security and fulfillment. This effect has been found to reflect on physiological parameters such as blood pressure, brain electrical activity, and muscle tension. It makes them forget their pain and makes them smile too.
Different sights produce different effects; the sights of water and plants give an impression of oasis; lush flowering plants bring food to their mind and shaded alcoves remind them of safety retreats.
Towering nature cure
The Khoo Thek Puat Hospital in Singapore has a good, expansive garden that has been the talking point for its popularity in and around the city. Not just for the patients who are fed organic food grown in the gardens, and are free from the overpowering smells of medicine by inhaling the fresh scent from the hospital’s 700 native, fragrant and flowering plant species; but also the hospital has served the entire community in the neighborhood with its sprawling garden and sitting area and activity center too. It has brought the elderly and the young closer to each other and also encourages them to spend quality time in each other’s company.
Humans V/s nature
While middle-aged adults seek peace, older adults come to the garden for stimulation and sense of direction and purpose in life. The colour engages their senses and distracts them from pain and discomfort. Additional water features and open spaces that attract small animals are also found to be high on demand. Large spaces with green awnings, space for strolls and path for pushing wheelchairs are becoming a must-have feature in most of the hospitals.
Not just in hospitals, even tabletop plants used in workspaces are found to relieve people of stress and stressful cross-currents between employees. Of all the varieties, Cacti, that needs very little water to survive is the most popular choice of indoor plants in offices.
Though healing is the mainstay for greenery in modern establishments, sustainability is another reason. The greenery and the water conservation efforts that come along with it will go a long way in creating a lesser carbon footprint. These green oases also promote healthy environments and safer spaces for people to come together and thrive.
Vijayalakshmi Sridhar’s stories explore human relationships and their dynamics. She is enjoying her journey as a writer of fiction and features.