I always enjoy hearing what individuals say when they walk through our programs or our training center and comment on the calm of it all. We have worked very hard at Lakeside to make sure our students, parents, business associates, and guests feel like they can enter our environments and immediately sense a relaxing, relational, and enjoyable place to be.
What does a serene environment say to you?
I recognize that different individuals find their calm in different ways.
That is why creating a calm environment is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
In order to be sensitive to a diverse audience, we must set-up our environments to reflect a variety of culturally sensitive and calming resources.
If we are trying to create trauma-informed environments, we should think through what an outsider may sense when they experience our space.
There should be a sense of safety.
Any type of fear, stress or threat can leave the person in a hypervigilant state. For example, thought should be given to logistics—where they sit relative to the entrance—so they always feel they can leave if necessary.
The waiting area should feel open.
Sitting areas should not feel cramped or invasive. Instead, promote a sense of casual warmth and comfortability.
Trauma-informed environments should offer regulation opportunities calming to the five senses.
That may include:
- Chairs that rock
- Stand-up desks
- Water running (as in a fountain)
- Appealing aromas
- Comfortable seating
- Calming non-familiar music
- A variety of fidgets, and
- Animals that are enjoyable to greet
Offer access to nature and natural light.
If possible, there also should be a place to experience nature and natural light. More than just a window, set up a place to sit outside. For example, at Lakeside we provide wooden swings outside. These really help our students regulate and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Finally, there needs to be genuine warmth and positivity from those who greet guests.
It is such an enjoyable experience to be greeted with enthusiasm, kindness and support. Individuals who are good listeners, who exude a sense of hope and help create calm. Their vibe of sincere support will help guests feel safely connected.
A good indicator about our environments is when we engage guests in conversation. We ask for their feedback about the environment we have created. Usually, guests will be very willing to comment on how they are sensing what we have designed for them.
A place that is safe, calm and serene will allow individuals to be in their best brain state.
When people are in their best brain state, they can:
- Think clearly
- Be logical
- Enjoy the experience of being in that environment
- Breathe comfortably
- Communicate, and
- Be heard
It is truly a gift for our guests and clients to be in a place where they feel comfortable and cared for.
It makes a significant difference, particularly if they are receiving services that will both grow them and be helpful to their lives. It is just veracious and accurate that we offer them the best environment possible so good things to happen while they are in our sphere of influence.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside