25 May What Is Environmental Enrichment?
Environmental enrichment is the concept of providing a safe, supportive environment that is “rich” with opportunities to try new things. Why? Because new experiences and sensations—like traveling to a new city, exploring a museum exhibit, learning a new sport, or trying a new type of food—are great for your health.
Benefits of novel experience
Studies have shown that interacting with your environment in new and stimulating ways can help boost your confidence and protect against a wide range of disorders. To be more specific, novel experiences that are perceived as being positive and successful can:
- Increase self-confidence
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Enhance brain plasticity, cognitive function, and learning
- Reduce genetic aging and neurodegenerative disease
- Help treat and prevent eating disorders and drug addictions
Click here to view references to specific studies on the benefits of environmental enrichment.
Recap: What is environmental enrichment?
Environmental enrichment is the act of providing opportunities for successful interactions with novel experience. New sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and tactile experiences can all be used to enrich an environment. And to top it off, problem solving and social interaction can be used to further enhance the benefits of these experiences.
Try it yourself
Wondering where you can find an enriched environment? Good places to start include local farmers’ markets, new restaurants (especially fine dining), and community classes where you can sign up to learn a new skill that interests you. Here are a few specific recommendations for St. Louisans looking to experience environmental enrichment:
- Try a new restaurant or coffee shop from our lists of local favorites
- Try a new exercise class at one of these awesome places
- Take a class at Perennial community workshop
- Plan a visit to City Museum
- Check out our very own BTMA Adventures
The next BTMA Adventure is coming soon. Visit BTMAStudios.com/btma-adventures for the latest event info.
BTMA Adventures is a series of community events that put environmental enrichment into action. At a recent event here in STL, we explored the colorful and exciting environment of the Climb So iLL rock-climbing wall. We challenged our bodies by opposing gravity. We challenged our minds by solving puzzles posed in the rock wall course. We faced the fear of falling with the confidence of safety harnesses. And the cherry on top: We all enjoyed the benefits of friendly social interaction.