Home is Restoration

2019 - 2021

What do we really need, when we yearn for home?

paradise camp fire architecture with meaning

This research project explored what “home” means at a physiological level, and suggested a plausible answer: the relaxation of our nervous system. In a small study interviewing survivors of natural disasters from the Camp-Fire (2018, Paradise, California) the themes used to describe home experiences were analyzed. In 66% of cases, their words related to the action of the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS): calm, relaxation, soothing, rest, etc.

Our conclusion is that a sense of belonging seems an active means of supporting health. Why? If you feel at home, chances are your body also feels safe enough to activate its restorative mechanisms. These interrelationships are explored in current embodied cognition and emotion research and were used to support the study methodology. 

What else do we learn from this study? That we need to actively create a place to live that we love and represents who we are, for our nervous system to relax.

To learn what home means to other people and what they might need to feel safe, we created this 13-question survey. If you can, please, take some time to answer it! It will help enormously to collect anonymous data, improve the questionnaire and make it available to disaster-affected communities. Thank you!

The publication of this research is available here.