The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Health & Fitness

Discover the Power of Your Surroundings: How Our Urban and Natural Environment Affects Us

architecture Environment Well-being
Discover the Power of Your Surroundings: How Our Urban and Natural Environment Affects Us
written by
Mariam Shoukry
Image via AFP/Khaled Desouki

We might not notice the massive effect that our physical environment has on us. Visual elements like colours, textures, space, and lighting have the power to either lift the mood and energise us or completely deplete and knock the energy out of us. The amount of sunlight we’re exposed to, the amount of natural greenery and bodies of water are all factors that have an immediate impact on our mood, mental health, and according to some studies, physical health as well.

A visit to a new city, for example, may immediately ignite with us this energy for exploring, and we start to become more open to new experiences and look out for all the things to do. The beach has this incredible ability to take our minds from their chaotic and cluttered state into a clear and peaceful one. It’s no wonder that people living in cities by the sea have this characteristic carefree lightness to them, and Italian people have a passionate zest for life —­­ their cities are real-life paintings! ­­­

Alexandria (Image via Lonely Planet)

Our urban environment and the surrounding architecture also infuse themselves into our palette of moods and emotions. Simple elements like curved walls or arches and lighter-coloured spaces can be a calming or uplifting experience. On the other hand, places that have sharper edges and the use of materials like metal or glass can make us more on edge. Blue is known to be a calming colour, while yellow, red, and orange are invigorating and energising colours.

Port Lligat (Image via Expedia)

The places we’re in are great sources of inspiration and have the ability to elicit things from us. Artists, musicians, and creatives in general, are known to have spent their time in different places that were the inspiration for their artwork. For example, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein after spending time in an ancient castle. Likewise, the famous painter Salvador Dali was inspired by the city of Port Lligat, Spain, where he decided to build his house, and the composer Felix Mendelssohn spent time inside Fingal’s Cave.  

Frankenstein’s Castle (Image via Pascal Rehfeldt/Wikipedia)

Fingal’s Cave (Image via Getty)

Becoming conscious of this effect of your physical environment on you can help you seek out inspiration by visiting places that are especially lively to you, or noticing when you’re becoming mentally cluttered, then going out for a day at the park and experiencing the calm that it gives you. It can also help you notice how your eyes have become accustomed to visually experiencing the same streets, workplace, and areas that aren’t very stimulating for you, and you may have become habituated and not very energetic. A change of scenery can boost that energy and creativity you might be missing.


Maadi (Image via Property Finder)

Luckily Egypt has no shortage of inspiring places to indulge in with your eyes. We recommend visiting sites like Khan El Khalili or Mamsha Ahl Misr for locations that could be inspiring or visually stimulating. If you’re looking to calm yourself down, head for a stroll in Al-Azhar Park or through the traditional architecture of Sarayat El-Maadi.

Khan El- Khalili (Image via Heba Otefy/Wikipedia)