Field Notes: Tips to Bring Forest Tranquility Indoors

Cultivating your living space into a personal sanctuary is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

Your home is one of the few constants in your life – it’s where you recharge at the end of the day, where you rest when you’re sick, where you retreat when you need a breather.

Personally, I find there are few landscapes more regenerative than a forest – trees shelter you from the elements, the sounds of birds wake you up in the morning while a stream lulls you to sleep at night, the soothing smells of plants and flowers fill your senses.

Why wouldn’t you want to bring that tranquility into your home if you could?

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering that question in creating my own personal sanctuary in my apartment – but I’m always finding new ways to make my personal space more relaxing.

It’s not just for aesthetic appeal – being outdoors has been demonstrated to provide medical benefits as well.

Here are a few tips that have helped me achieve that along the way – no matter where you live, hopefully they can help you, too!


  1. Invigorate your senses with aromatherapy.

    Our sense of smell is more powerful than we give it credit for. The scent of the household cleaner our parents used can instantly conjure up childhood memories and feelings. The smell of an ex-lovers old perfume can cause us to recall the mood of an entire relationship in seconds. We associate smells with powerful memories, and with those come feelings.

    I can’t tell you how big of a difference a simple aromatherapy diffuser can make in your life. Do your self a favor and get one – and be sure to pick up some essential oils for it as well. I highly recommend fir needle oil and cedarwood oil as they recall forests most strongly for me – though myrrh and frankincense oils have calming earthy smells as well. There are tons of essential oils, and often you can combine them for better results.

  2.  Start to your indoor houseplant garden.

    Plants infinitely improve the atmosphere of your house in more ways than one. Not only can they visually bring a room to life, but in case you really needed another reason to keep plants they can actually improve the quality of the air that you breathe, according to NASA. No matter what your budget or lifestyle I can practically guarantee there is a way for you to make your home a little bit greener.

    There are low maintenance plants that barely ever need to be watered like succulents and cacti, that are almost impossible to kill. Dracanea are another plant that is actually happier if you forget to water it. If you can commit to a once a week watering, most house plants I have don’t ask more of me than that. Short on space? You can hang plants from hooks, or even mount them on the wall in frames. Air plants are also good if you don’t have room for a pot on your windowsill – they don’t even need one to grow! You don’t need to be like me and have more plants than you can count to reap their benefits, just get one or two… although once you start buying them you may well end up that way!

  3. Listen to the sounds of the forest – through speakers.

    Sound, like smell, can really transform an environment. Many people use sound machines to help them get to sleep – but with the internet, there are tons of different nature soundscapes available, and all you really need to close your eyes and pretend you’re in the middle of nowhere is a decent pair of speakers.

    Many people already have a pair of speakers to listen to music, or watch TV – if you don’t or can’t afford one just buy a blue-tooth speaker – they are generally pretty inexpensive and many of them are actually pretty powerful. Hook it up to your phone or computer and as long as you have an internet connection, the world is your oyster – YouTube is a great resource for nature soundtracks of all kinds. To boost the effect, combine this with aromatherapy – then just sit back on your couch or bed and close your eyes, and trust me on this one.

  4. Take a page from evolution – ditch what you don’t need.

    Natural selection, survival of the fittest – whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t tolerate the unnecessary. Everything that exists in the natural world has a purpose – everything from the shape of a bird’s feather to the color of a flower’s petals. Nature doesn’t waste energy, resources, or space on anything that doesn’t serve a purpose – and neither should your home. After all clutter is stressful and uncomfortable – and you’ll be amazed how much cleaner your home will look if you donate things you don’t really need or use.

    Assess your living space – look for things you haven’t used, or haven’t served a purpose for you in the last month or two. If you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them now, put them out of sight somewhere in a box. Repeat this process in each room in your house. If you’re having a hard time try to get rid of one thing each day for a month. You’ll find it becomes easier with time, and your home will look better as a result. If you’re really serious about de-cluttering your life google “30-Day Minimalist Challenge”/

  5. Use natural treasures for decor.

    There are so many ways to decorate your home for a peaceful forest-like aesthetic outside of just adding a few plants.  Nature is full of beauty beyond greenery, after all! This is where you can really get creative. Go to home decor shops, look on Etsy, or better yet visit second-hand stores – look around. Keep your eyes peeled for things like stone bowls, crystal bookends, coasters made from tree limbs, heck, tables made from tree trunks!

    Have a particularly lonely looking shelf in your house? I did – and then I found an antler at a used decor store. Looking for a new cutting board? Try a marble looking one over plastic – they last longer anyhow. Need a new lamp? There are all kinds of lovely ones with bases crafted from rocks like granite. How about a hamper? Buy a bamboo one instead of an ugly plastic bin! There are all kinds of creative ways to incorporate or decorate with natural materials into your house if you’ve got your eye out for them.

Whether you live in an apartment or a house, there are many ways to incorporate elements of nature into your indoor habitat – hopefully this has inspired you to want to try some of these things yourself!

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