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A healing environment is a physical setting that encourages physical, emotional and spiritual healing and well being. 

Studies indicate that patients in hospitals and nursing homes do better when there is a healing environment. While we have not found any studies about a home or work environment, it stands to reason that a healing, stress free, environment will also promote healing. Studies in the field known as psycho-neuro-immunology (the mind-body connection) indicate that reducing stress helps bolster the fighting ability of the immune system. 

There is no one-size-fits-all healing environment. What is healing for one person may not be for another. 

For additional information about healing enviornments, see:

At Home

Each of the following elements can be used create a healing environment. A healing enviornment can be a room or even a corner of a room. The key is a place where you can relax, be quiet, regroup and refresh. There is no right or wrong - the key is what works for you.


Nice smells can be healing. You can include specific aromas in your environment easily and inexpensively. Incense and some scented candles are inexpensive. So are a few drops of oil that can change the aroma in a room when placed on a burning light bulb. For example:

  • Lavender, rose and sandalwood are calming.
  • Peppermint can reduce nausea and vomiting (it is used in some hospitals post operatively for this purpose.)


When you consider art (both two and three dimensional pieces), consider the feelings the art provokes in you. For example, nature scenes tend to be relaxing.

Art doesn't have to be expensive. A drawing by a child who means something to you can be more meaningful than an expensive oil painting.

Some people use art to express an overall vision for their healing process. If you use art for this purpose, have art supplies in your healing area.


Color can dramatically affect how it feels to be in a particular space. Even changing the color of one wall, or a piece of furniture, can make a big difference.

What color to paint the walls and to feature in the furniture depends on your taste and what different colors mean to you. Of course, choose a color that appeals to you.

In general:

  • Red is thought to be invigorating. Some studies indicate that red increases heart rate.
  • Blue is thought to be calming and decreases heart rate.
  • Beige is tranquil.
It may be helpful to think about a natural environment that you find healing. It can help you find colors (and textures) that will literally bring the experience home.


Light can be harmful, or healing. Research shows that lighting which is too dark or too bright induces a low mood while mood improves with lighting which is "just right."

As shown in studies in hospitals, natural light can be healing and restorative. Mood swings are greater when there is no natural light.

When considering artificial lights, consider type, source and color. Select the light sources and types of light that you find most healing.


Consider what music makes you feel relaxed and calm. Music is easily available these days, including as a download from the internet.

If there is no music that you think of as healing, consider classical music such as music by the classical composers such as Bach, Chopin or Mozart. Also consider New Age music which can provide a soft, calming presence.

Internet search engines will provide an array of healing music if you search on words such as "healing music."


Seeing and being in nature is soothing and restorative and brings about positive feelings. While a walk in nature is calming, a study shows that even looking at nature can reduce stress levels and increase immune levels. Nature can be a view out a window, living indoor plants, or even photos or artwork of nature.

A great deal of information about what plants grow in what indoor environment (and care tips) is available on line. A quick search on "house plants guide" brings up a number of comprehensive web sites. Please share your experience about these sites so we can pass the information along to other people in your situation. (Please e mail: Survivorship A to Z)

Gardening can also help relieve stress (while providing exercise). A waterfall is easy to install, and generates a soothing sound. Even a small green house permits year round gardening.


Noise, or the lack thereof, affects all of us differently. Noise can increase stress, disrupt sleep and impact human behavior in a negative way. The lack of noise (silence) can be healing to some people and the exact opposite to others.

Stressful noises can be masked by peaceful sounds such as water in a waterfall, bubbling water, wind chimes, music, or artificially produced white noise. (In addition to specialty stores with white noise gadgets such as Hammacher Schlemmer, ( offsite link), you can get white noise free on your computer from such sites as offsite link.)


Symbols (such as photographs) and mementos that have meaning and significance to you (such as souvenirs from a relaxing trip or a needlepoint made by someone you love) can bring up past feelings of care and comfort.


Make your entire home a smoke free zone. If that is not possible because of the people you live with, at least make your healing space smoke free. (Also make your bedroom and the other rooms you frequent smoke free).   NOTE: If you smoke, quit. To learn how, click here.  Keep in mind that second hand smoke is just as damaging as smoking.


Consider an entrance or threshold to your home which creates a distinct difference between the outside and your home or the door to your healing room/space. For instance, a heavy door, a dark passage, a bridge or garden gate. As you pass into the space, there will be at least a subliminal awareness of passing into your healing environment.


Water can be soothing. For instance, a view of water, or a softy cascading fountain.

NOTE: Think about activities you enjoy engaging in that you find healing, and adapt space to encourage the activity. For instance, if you love to read, be sure there is a comfortable chair and good light. If you create art, that there is space to work - and perhaps leave your tools and supplies out overnight.

Minimize Effort

Use common sense to make it easier to live in the space. For example:

  • Decorate simply so you don't have to dust a lot. Furniture should be easy to clean.
  • Use long life light bulbs in difficult-to-reach areas such as ceiling fixtures. (Not incidentally, you'll also be helping heal the planet)


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Related Articles

Home Bound 101

At Work

Within the limitations of what you may be able to do at work, consider the following:


What color to paint the walls depends on your taste. Of course, choose a color that appeals to you.

At work, consider whether you want the color to be calming or invigorating. Then think about the colors that produce that effect in you. While your reactions may differ:

  • Red is thought to be invigorating. Some studies indicate that red increases heart rate.
  • Blue is thought to be calming and decreases heart rate.

If you get to choose the furniture, consider the color. (See above). If you only get to select your chair, select the one that is most comfortable for you as well as one that encourages you to sit properly.


Take advantage of any natural light. Remove window coverings to the extent possible.


To the extent that it does not annoy co-workers, consider music to fit the mood you want at work. For instance, play calming or invigorating music. If you use earphones, you will not disturb your co-workers.


Do what you can to avoid unnecessary noise.

If you like the sound, and if it doesn't cause you to go to the bathroom too often, consider a water element such as a small recycling fountain.

Photos and Objects

Bring photos and objects that have special meaning to you - preferably ones that are not political or religious.


Do calming visuals such as art, nature or a fish tank.

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In The Hospital, Nursing Home Or Assisted Living Facility

Insist on a room with daylight. Daylight has been shown to be healing in such settings.

Add as much healing environment to the room as you can. For instance:

  • Personalize the space with photographs and inexpensive art work. 
  • Add objects that remind you of people you love, healing environments or happy moments.
  • Tone down institutional noise by bringing in a white noise machine, or download white noise from a computer. If you do not need immediate care, ask for a room away from the noisy nurses' station.
  • Add healing aromas to the extent you are permitted. For instance, via incense, or scented candles, or a few drops of aromatic oil on a lighted bulb.
Monitor your visitors. If visitors make you feel better, encourage visits. If they don't, discourage visits or ask that the institution impose a no-visitors policy (with exceptions for the few people you want to see).

If the telephone is disturbing, turn it off, or add an inexpensive answering machine you can monitor.

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