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The therapeutic impact of the landscape on mental health

Joanna Pidanty - November 9, 2023 - 0 comments

Human health is based on natural resources, including the ones originating from landscape. The regenerative dimension of natural scenery has been known for a long time, and modern scientific evidence confirms the beneficial effect of the landscape on mental health. Exposure to aesthetically pleasing views of nature supports healing and affects well-being. In historical institutional psychiatric treatment, the therapeutic landscape consisted of carefully planned hospital gardens. Today, the idea of a therapeutic landscape can be implemented to a large extent, thanks to Virtual Reality.

The idea of a therapeutic landscape

The therapeutic landscape is characterized by values conducive to maintaining health, treating and alleviating the symptoms of the disease. We can refer to a natural landscape as therapeutic if it supports well-being and contributes to maintaining a healthy mental balance. Observing nature is fascinating, yet it does not require strenuous effort, we can say that it is a rest for the brain and leads to the regeneration of the mind. Although the concept of therapeutic landscape does not refer exclusively to gardens, they are an expressive area of nature with therapeutic properties. The therapeutic garden landscape must not contain disturbing or surprising, frightening elements. This is particularly important when treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress. The therapeutic landscape allows you to feel safe. The perceptible space is supposed to be a refuge, and the perspective, even when it is extensive, should not lead to a loss of orientation. The gardens combine elements of the natural and cultural landscape. They are the result of nature’s actions and deliberate human efforts to ensure the aesthetics and appropriate functionality of the physical features of the landscape. Abundant vegetation and architectural elements allow to create a harmonious scenery dedicated to holistic health improvement.

Landscape for the senses and mind

A properly shaped landscape, pleasant to the senses and mind, can support the treatment of people with mental and physical health problems. The unfolding broad perspective, linked with positive aesthetic impressions is helpful in shortening convalescence. The author of the research on the therapeutic impact of the views of the natural scenery on faster recovery is Dr. Roger S. Ulrich, who dealt with the issue of designing evidence-based health care areas. The results of his research proved that the view of trees from the hospital windows correlates with a shorter hospitalization of patients and fewer painkillers taken. Most nature scenes help soothe stress and induce positive emotional states. This fact was taken into account in both in the past and today. Not only the nearest area surrounding the hospital is to provide positive sensory stimuli. Attention is also paid to the fact that patients can also benefit from the borrowed views of more distant areas complementing the immediate landscape, e.g. mountains, fields located outside the hospital. Modern research has confirmed that a properly designed environment can reduce patient stress and thus improve clinical outcomes. Therefore, it is worth using views of nature to improve health. Valuable landscapes conducive to relaxation and tranquility can be found in the VR TierOne GO relaxation headset.

The aesthetic qualities of the virtual landscape perfectly support healthy relaxation.

Spatial framework of therapy

Feeding the senses and mind with natural landscapes reduces the feelings of anxiety, grief and isolation that accompany illness. Anna Staniewska, author of the monograph entitled “Insane Gardens” and devoted to the idea of the therapeutic landscape in the composition of 19th and 20th century psychiatric hospital complexes, points out that hospital gardens originate from medicinal gardens located next to medieval monasteries. In the past, it was the monks, who made the effort to care for the mentally ill. Green areas, especially gardens, accompanied the treatment for practical and aesthetic reasons. The gardens provided herbs and medicinal plants and were also a place of concentration. Similarly, in Eastern culture, Zen gardens served to meditate and calm the mind. The reorganization of the patient care system has made hospital gardens, sometimes extremely impressive, a place where patients can stay. And, as in the case of monks, these gardens provided beneficial contact with nature in a situation, where the patients are cut off from the outside world. The natural environment, giving a sense of security, began to set the spatial framework for therapy and health-promoting activity. Despite understanding the validity of the idea and willingness to design a therapeutic landscape, medical facilities encounter certain obstacles in its implementation. These include limited financial resources and land restrictions. Fortunately, the current technological possibilities enable us to provide patients with a beneficial landscape with use of Virtual Reality. The virtual therapeutic landscape facilitates the provision of health care, as exemplified by the VR TierOne medical solution. The purposefully designed virtual garden is a unique place where the therapeutic process takes place. The Green Garden of Rebirth is a place of therapy and health improvement, setting the spatial framework for virtual psychological therapy. Furthermore, through its rich symbolism, it has an impact on the recovery process and the reduction of symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.

The VR TierOne GO virtual landscape makes it easier to reach the state of mental balance.

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