Nature, health and stress: a research-based approach to stress within our sensorial world.

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Birkett, Allison
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This practicum focuses on developing a deeper knowledge about stress and our external environments. It is directed towards the profession of Landscape Architecture, and healthcare facilities including professionals. It outlines critical information about stress: how stress affects people’s physical, emotional, mental health and well-being, and how landscape architects are able to mitigate different types of stress through the design and use of our exterior environments, offering respite and healing in times of great need. Stress reveals and manifests itself in numerous ways. It has become a major problem within our society, much bigger than people care to acknowledge or believe. Landscape Architects have the ability to help people reflect upon the stress that they are under by creating spaces that inevitably sooth their ‘selves’. Through the profession and subsequent work of Landscape Architects the awareness of stress can be addressed, helping bring respite and relieve tension and stress, whether large or small, which is extremely critical in today’s society. Through the use of gardens and exterior spaces designed with stress-relief in mind, we will be able to decrease hospital stays, drug use and the overall amount of money used by medical institutions and governments, while decreasing the progression and succession of illness and diseases related to and accentuated or propagated by, or due to stress. Through this document I will discuss ideas and theories that influence and/or are pertinent to Landscape Architecture and stress, as well as natural elements that should be taken into consideration when starting to design or when planning a design that will be situated within medical institutions and healthcare facilities, but not limited to, and including any other exterior environment (such as a backyard). It will also outline design elements which emphasize appropriate ways to design these spaces and places responsibly and sensitively. By understanding how people respond to stress, Landscape Architects may be able to design appropriate, beautiful spaces. Initially this practicum was directed towards designing beautiful, meaningful gardens for the sick and/or dying, as well as for the families, visitors, and employees within healthcare settings. It has evolved, to include how our brains and bodies are physiologically affected by spaces and places that we encounter, and how these spaces either reduce or increase stress responses within us, therefore, increasing or decreasing our ability to heal, be healthy, and feel well. Stress is a major condition that is often “down-played”, ignored, or not understood within society. It is in fact a very serious condition / illness that has the ability to dictate the outcome of our physical and mental performances, and especially our health and well-being. Landscape Architects have the ability and responsibility to contribute positively to people’s bodily reactions to spaces: exterior and interior.
nature, health, stress, landscape architecture, sensorial, world, well-being, sickness, design, healing, environment, connecting, relationships, mental health, physical health, spiritual health, biophilia, phenomenology, perception, herbalism, meditation, hormones, faith, air, sensing, texture, feeling, control, memories, sound, aromatherapy, scent, vision, color therapy, accessibility, social support, participatory design, evidence-based design, childhood development, elderly people, palliative care, bottom-line, change, art, science, faith, psychological implications, emotions