I've written a great deal about the benefits to healing when patients are exposed to nature and nature-based artwork in hospitals. My interest comes from personal experience. I had the misfortune of becoming ill as a child and had several surgeries over time. I was young, alone in a room in this large building that smelled awful. All I had to look at were walls and a TV. I was terrified.
Whether you are a child or an adult hospitals are basically inhospitable. They are generally cold, smell of illness and disinfectant and the walls are almost always painted in a cold blue or green tint. Nothing in that combination is soothing or stress reducing.
Research has been done since the 1990s that gives us strong evidence supporting the importance of nature and the use of virtual nature in our healing process. I have never needed research to tell me how much better I feel when I can see nature. But it is nice to have the backing of science to help us do better.
Our bodies need energy to heal. Stress takes away that energy. Being ill and in the hospital brings its own special brand of stress. Imagine being able to look out of your hospital room window and see trees or flowers, maybe even a bird feeder. Imagine being told that for your physical therapy you need to walk so many feet, but instead of lines and numbers on the floor or wall to mark this off, this distance is marked by artwork. So when asked how far you walked you can tell your nurse or doctor that you walked to the yellow flowers. What a difference that could make just in your motivation to be able to see the flowers. The beauty in nature cause us to wonder. Wonder brings our imagination into play. This results in our feeling more positive.
A few years ago had to visit a hospital many times over many months for someone else. On the main entry floor and in the common areas they had beautiful photographs of trees, flowers, mountains; nature in all aspects decorated the walls. But the moment you left that main floor and moved up to the patient floors and rooms the artwork was gone.
We need to move the artwork from the main floor and visiting areas and into the patients rooms and hallways. As a society we need to embrace the healing power that nature has to offer.