Mental health awareness has become an important issue across the United States. As people look for more ways to support their mental wellbeing in their everyday lives, researchers have been studying how aspects of our everyday life, such as outdoor lighting, may play a role. When it comes to outdoor lighting, there is a fine line between too much light and too little. Both of these areas impact your mental health in different ways. Our team has taken the time to learn more about how different lighting techniques can improve your mental health. Here is what we found out:
The Importance of Being Outside
To set the stage for a better understanding of how outdoor lighting can affect your health, it is important to know what role it plays. Research has shown that being outside for only 20 minutes has a positive effect on your body. The study noted that the individuals who took 20 minutes to walk around or sit outside reported lower stress, blood pressure, and heart rate than those who stayed inside all day.
What is it about nature that boosts our mental health? A 2015 study by the Harvard University’s Medical School tested the brain activity of individuals who walked outside for 90 minutes in a natural setting or their backyard. Those who were surrounded by plants, plenty of natural lighting, or a familiar environment were found to have lower activity levels in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is active during rumination, also known as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative thoughts or emotions. Those who are depressed or are under constant stress often experience malfunctions in this region of the brain, resulting in continuously looping negative thoughts which further negatively impact your mood and reinforce the cycle.
Being outside allows you to experience the soothing sounds of nature, the pleasant and beautiful sight of trees, and even sounds that remind you of a good memory of the outdoors. This can reduce stress hormones, decrease blood pressure, and calm the fight-or-flight response that causes the prefrontal cortex to fire.
The Role of Outdoor Lighting in Mental Health
Understanding the positive impacts of nature is important to understanding how outdoor lighting can play a role in your mental health. Since most people work 9-5 jobs, the amount of time they get to spend outdoors is limited. The sun is often dipping below the horizon as soon as everything for the day is settled and individuals can relax. Outdoor lighting allows homeowners to enjoy Mother Nature even after the sun has gone down. Here’s how:
A Place to Escape
The world today is wrapped up in a whirlwind of getting from one place to another, work, electronic screens, and information bombarding our brains almost every second of the day. It is no wonder that more and more people are looking for a place to escape so they can just breathe. A softly lit outdoor living space gives you and your brain a place to escape from a chaotic world.
When it comes to lighting outdoor spaces, using warm and soft tones is key. Not only does this type of lighting encourage a sense of relaxation, but it is the exact opposite of the light from your phone or computer screen. This allows your eyes to rest so your mind can focus on the beauty that surrounds you and truly enjoy the comforting sounds of nature.
With outdoor lighting, you can go to your safe space, such as an outdoor kitchen, outdoor living room, or even an outdoor pool without worrying about it being too dark. Soft outdoor lighting gives you the freedom to enjoy your backyard space even though the sun isn’t out. Extending the time that you can spend outside gives individuals a chance to stroll through their garden or enjoy a quiet moment by the pool, no matter how hectic their schedule.
A Sense of Security
There is a reason horror movies make heavy use of dark settings. Dark settings raise our sense of danger and make us feel insecure and vulnerable. Without light, our visual senses are weakened or in some cases, completely gone. Without the ability to visually see what is around us, we feel more vulnerable to harm in the form of intruders, bugs, or even tripping.
With outdoor lighting, this fear of what lays in the darkness is taken away. The light chases away the shadows and shows us what is underneath. It also makes it harder for intruders to sneak around our property, providing you and your family with a stronger sense of security. Outdoor lighting is especially useful for individuals who may want to take the trash out at night, take a stroll around their garden, or simply check the mailbox. With the darkness gone, they can step out of their home with confidence.
A Sense of Appreciation
You take great care and attention with your home, and the darkness can make that hard to see sometimes. With beautiful outdoor lighting, you can come home to an immaculately lit house that highlights all you have accomplished and built.
According to a mental health study by two psychologists from the University of Miami, having a grateful attitude about the life you have built has proven to keep individuals in a happier frame of mind. For this study, individuals were placed into three groups. One was asked to write down things they were grateful for, the second was asked to write down things that irritated them during their normal day, and the third was asked to write a few sentences about their daily lives. Individuals who were asked to focus on the things they were grateful for throughout the study were shown to be more optimistic, motivated, active, and went to the doctor less.
Outdoor lighting allows you to take pride in the home that you built for yourself and your family. With professional outdoor lighting, you can add an extra layer of beauty to your home by highlighting the architecture, the grounds surrounding your home, and any special features such as a garden or pool. Be welcomed home by the brilliance of the life you built and enjoy a quiet evening surrounded by nature, your family, and friends in your own outdoor living space.
Invest In Your Mental Health and Contact Creative Nightscapes Today!
When it comes to your mental and physical well-being, even the simplest things, such as lounging in your ideal backyard, go a long way. Gorgeous outdoor lighting that enhances the natural beauty of your home can help improve your mental health by easing your fears of the dark, giving you a place to unwind, and reminding you of your accomplishments. Contact Creative Nightscapes today for more information on our lighting services or to schedule a consultation with our team!