Nature-inspired ‘recharge rooms’ help stressed health care providers relax

During the COVID-19 pandemic, unused rooms at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York have been transformed into spaces where health care workers can recharge after grueling shifts. Inspired by elements of nature, the redecorated rooms include calming scents and music, silk plants, and video imagery of scenes like landscapes and waterfalls. Workers who have used the rooms reported a 60% reduction in stress after just 15 minutes, according to a January 5, 2021 article in medicalbag.

It’s not a placebo effect, according to experts quoted in the article. Jie Yin, a Yerby Fellow and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, whose dissertation focused on the health effects of bringing nature indoors, said that humans have an innate connection with nature; therefore, incorporating natural elements inside buildings—known as biophilic design—can help induce a calm, happy feeling.

Yin explained that focusing on easy-to-observe experiences in nature such as leaves blowing on a tree—known as “soft fascination”—is more relaxing than “hard fascination” activities such as watching a show on TV, which require more concentration.

“There’s a theory that people in urban environments have too much stimuli from daily work, so exposing them to natural elements can help shift their direct attention,” Yin said. “And soft fascination about the environment can help replenish their attention.”

Read the medicalbag article: After Grueling Shifts, Mount Sinai Physicians Recharge in Man-Made Nature