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The ‘Biophilia hypothesis’ suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life over human-built structures and urbanised places. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) argues, that attentional fatigue due to the depletion of mental resources occurs, in part, due to a lack of natural features/vegetation in a person’s environment, but can be restored and maintained by four qualities; ‘fascination’ – sensory qualities that have an inherent appeal; ‘extent’ – a sense of environmental vastness; ‘being away’ – from the demands of regular life; and ‘compatibility’ – relating to what one wants to do and what they can do in a given landscape.

To highlight and support this, a study conducted by Roger E. Ulrich (1983), of which was underpinned by his stress reduction theory (SRT) subjected two groups of hospital patients to either a natural hospital room view or one of brick wall. He found that the group with the natural view needed to stay in hospital for a shorter time after their operation, took fewer painkillers, and received fewer negative evaluations by hospital staff.

Indeed, according to Zhang & Zypnur (2015), many of today’s mental health problems can be attributed to the artificial environments people inhabit. Therefore, understanding our innate evolutionary needs and inherent connection to natural spaces is vital for mental health restoration, well-being, processing and sustained cognitive ability.

– Extracts taken from Becoming the 0.1%® (Lesson 4: Restorative Environments).

Gareth Timmins