Studies show that on average, people spend around 90% of their day indoors. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the indoor spaces we commonly use are beneficial to our health and well-being. In this article, we’ll take a look at how facilities teams can prioritize occupant health through holistic church design. But first, let’s take a deeper look at what it means to incorporate healing environments in a worship facility.
What is a healing environment?
Healing environments are spaces within a facility that reduce occupant stress and promote positivity. Therapeutic building design may include some or all of the following elements:
- Exposure to nature (including interior and exterior greenery, aquariums or nature-related art)
- Use of calming paint colors and natural lighting
- Reduction of environmental stressors (including excessive noise, harsh lighting and poor indoor air quality)
- Incorporation of comfortable furniture that can be arranged for social interactions
- Inclusion of adjustable room elements for comfort (including dimmable lights and adjustable thermostats)
Why do healing environments in worship facilities matter?
Everyday stress can impact our bodies. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Healing environments are just one example of how facility managers can influence the health of congregants.
Can my church benefit from healing environments?
Any religious institution or organization can benefit from healing-focused building design. Studies show that there can be immediate benefits from stress-reducing spaces. For example, healing worship spaces can support spirituality and social connections among congregation members. Many religious facilities choose to incorporate home-like building designs to reduce stress, including interior greenery, neutral paint shades, organic building materials and comfortable seating.
How can facilities teams create healing environments in churches?
Facility managers and their teams play an important role in promoting worshiper health and well-being. Each day, they work hard to deliver safe, clean and enjoyable spaces within their churches. Here are five ways to deliver exciting, engaging and healing spaces within your facility for congregants to enjoy.
- Incorporate elements of nature throughout your facility.
Studies show that spending even three to five minutes in contact with nature can significantly reduce negative emotions (such as stress, anger or fear) and increase pleasant emotions. Facilities teams can achieve these effects by installing windows for natural lighting and outdoor viewing, setting up an aquarium or hanging nature-themed art on walls.
- Promote mental well-being with indoor greenery.
In addition to including natural elements in building design, consider incorporating indoor greenery throughout your facility. Plants are not only visually appealing, they’re also beneficial to human health. One study found that indoor plants can promote mental well-being. The study’s results showed that indoor plants can reduce feelings of anxiety and tension by 37%, depression by 58%, anger and hostility by 44%, and fatigue by 38%. Even one plant per room can provide a significant lift in congregant spirits.
- Offer adjustable room elements to increase congregant comfort.
Adjustable room elements offer the option of personalized comfort to worshipers. Some examples include dimmable lights, smart climate control units, adjustable furniture or window blinds. These items help people maintain some control over their physical environment which, in turn, can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Take steps to reduce excessive noise levels in your facility.
Loud noise levels are linked to adverse medical outcomes, including stress, increased heart rate, high blood pressure and reduced oxygen levels in the blood. Noise distractions can also cause cognitive performance to drop by up to 41%. Use the benefits of quiet, relaxing environments to your advantage. Utilize a sound system to play relaxing music, install a water fountain for calming ambient noise, or consider putting in acoustic control panels, soundproofing composite and rugs throughout your facility to reduce sound reverberation.
- Paint walls with a calming color scheme.
Cool colors (like blues, greens and purples) and neutral tones (like beige, ivory, taupe and gray) are generally considered some of the most relaxing colors to use when painting a calming space. The right color scheme can have a soothing effect on the mind and body in your church. Facilities teams should assemble color schemes that suit their organization’s brand, but also promote stress relief for congregants.
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