Green Care: Natural environment at workplace reduces stress

Posted by Tuomo Salovuori on April 14, 2015

“Working environments will become more species-typical in the future”, believes Tuomo Salovuori, chairperson of Green Care Finland. Salovuori shares his thoughts on the needs humans have for our environment in this guest blog post.

Gardener Tuomo Salovuori

Our working environments rarely match our needs

We at Green Care Finland moved recently to new premises due to indoor air problems. Now it is easier to breathe and I can see through the window once again, even though the view is not the best. Still there is danger lurking around and the greatest threats are sneaky and appear without us noticing them.

Our working environment are nowadays often offices where we work sitting down and rack our brains. Occupational health and safety procedures take care of ergonomy and legislation obliges everyone to eliminate physical threats at workplaces.

However, we were hardly designed to sit in the office environment, work with computers or strain our brain monotonously. Even when we are absorbed in physical work, we automatically remember to have breaks.

On the other hand, we do not always understand the importance of breaks and recovery when we are putting a strain only on our brain. We have become estranged from behaviour that is typical for our species.

Bringing nature to offices reduces stress

An environment that is typical for humans would be greener, offer fresh air and possibilities to strain the body physically. If we can return at least a bit of this, for example by adding pictures of plants, our bodies react positively and the stress levels reduce. The effect of bringing real plants to office is greater and, for instance, the number of sick leave days are proven to decrease in such cases.

Plant walls that produce fresh air bring a piece of this species-typical environment into our working spaces. I believe that in the future our workplaces will look more characteristic for our species. In this case we could even add a label on products that states if they have been produced in species-typical environment.

What would it feel like to hold a smartphone and know that the people who made it have worked in natural and healthy environment? The reality nowadays does not necessarily match this image.

Human beings long for natural environments

My small act to prevent cruelty to animals is to always choose free-range eggs. I would gladly eat meat from animals that have had a happy life, but this is harder to obtain. In my opinion, species-typical life brings happiness to all parties and hopefully even increases the income of the farmer.

Acting and thinking naturally has generated good results already in many other cases. The surface used in organic farming is growing both in Finland and globally.

Species-typical needs of human beings have hardly been the topic of discussions. Only lately the health risks of sitting down all day, which seems to be as dangerous as obesity and smoking, have reached the headlines of newspapers.

The discussions have been about adults but I consider it to be even more wrong to make children sit down throughout their childhood and adolescence. This must be a terrible torture for children that want to move and explore things by nature. Disturbances of attention have been decreased by adding physical exercise or by taking children to farm houses once a week.

Tuomo Salovuori

The writer is the chairperson of Green Care Finland. Green Care Finland works to enable as many as possible to enjoy the benefits of species-typical environment. Natural environment can support rehabilitation and wellbeing. It brings joy, experiences and chances to learn new things to human beings.


Extra readings:

Biophilia - The Love of Life and All Living Systems (9/2017)

Green care for Mind and Body (5/2017)


Interested in transforming your workplace to match your needs?

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