We’ve all been through days when we feel like heading home is the only good part. It might have been caused by anxiety due to work problems or emergencies. Or it could be due to a fight you might have had with a family member or spouse. You might have lost an important game. Or worst suffered the loss of a loved one. Once we’ve gone over the shock, our natural instinct is to go back home where we know we are safe and secure. It is here that we can destress and recharge. Lick our wounds, so to speak. It is in the homes that we retreat when we feel like we need social and emotional protection.
Although we have very little control over how the rest of our lives shape up, it is in our homes that we have full authority with the help of local contractors. No matter the style that you prefer – be it minimalist, maximalist, contemporary, or modern – the way we design and furnish our home, paint the walls, organize our personal items will always have a huge impact on our sense of security and overall well-being.
This is evident in children. You will often see them creating nests in their own bedrooms. They always want the things they love close by. Without any thought, they try to make their rooms as personal as possible, at the same time ensuring that it is a safe haven, free from the influence of others like parents and other siblings.
Home Design and Mental Health
Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health problems that people face, according to the Mental Health Foundation. However, there have been several techniques implemented through interior design that has been shown to reduce both stress and depression. The connection between emotional well-being and home design is not new. But it is only recently that actual studies have been conducted to ascertain to which extent this connection is rooted. Within the healthcare industry, this link is well established. By creating space that facilitates social support helps boost our mental wellbeing.
We can cite an example of how delivery rooms have changed over the years. In the past, labor and delivery were done in a separate wing of the hospital. Family members were asked to wait outside while the mother goes through labor and delivery on their own, although assisted by doctors and medical staff. The delivery rooms of today are basically regular rooms where the family can visit and help support the mother in labor. Even during delivery, a spouse or a family member can stay with the mother to help her get through the process of giving birth.
Within the corporate and business world, there is careful consideration of the layout of office spaces. Corporate interior designers will pay attention to lighting, color, textures, layout, and even artwork to create a space that is motivating and uplifting to promote productivity, efficiency, creativity, and satisfaction. These designers pay close attention to the mindset as well as the aesthetics.
There are a lot of interior design elements that can be associated with helping improve the mental health of people. However, there are specific elements that are mentioned over and over again to have the greatest impact. These include natural light, expansive space, flowers and plants, color, natural elements, and artwork. When these are used correctly, it’s possible to create an environment that helps to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.
The Effects of Sunlight
A room that is well lit brings out a lot of positive feelings in us. But natural light may also help reduce depression. Whether you get it through being outdoor or through a window, a dose of sunlight is enough to lift our mood. As a matter of fact, with enough sunlight to light up a room, it can really make us happier. A prolonged period of not getting enough sunlight is enough to cause us to become anxious and depressed. In mental health, there is a term called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” which is a form of depression that many people experience during the winter months – when there is sunlight. Scientists have experimented with light exposure as a way to help boost people’s mood during this time of the year.
Sunlight may also energize and motivate people at home to work. A study conducted in 2002* reported that it is daylight that has the biggest impact in improving the productivity of people and increasing sales. There have been a lot of studies that demonstrated the many positive mental and physical effects of natural light. Another study* in particular states that workers who are exposed to natural light are able to outperform their colleagues who don’t get as much sunlight. And workers who are exposed to artificial light, there is signs of lower motivation, poor sleep, and lack of vitality.
Spaciousness Improves Our Spirit
If you ask people, they will always prefer a spacious room rather than one that is cramped. Having an expansive space to live and work can be a great way to elevate our mood. One study* stated that people become more creative in rooms where the ceilings are high. Their moods are also greatly improved. Another way to achieve the benefits of having enough space, ironically, is in rooms with lower ceilings. It seems, rather, that a sense of spaciousness is a key element in creating happier spaces.
A home with a clean and open layout improves our mood. This is dictated by human evolution. For thousands of years, humans roamed the plains of Africa hunting and exploring the grasslands for food. Our brain is wired to function best when our eyesight is not obstructed by large objects. We can apply the same philosophy in our modern settings. Our homes can be made to feel open by how we design them, the choice of furniture, lighting, and how we organize our personal items.
In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz about the Konmari method of organizing our items. This method was founded by Mari Kondo, a champion of how best to tidy up and what it does to our well-being. She draws inspiration from the ancient practice of Feng Shui. For example, she espouses the idea that if an object doesn’t bring you joy, then you should let go of that thing. In her hit Netflix show, “Tidying Up,” she helps people with dramatic decluttering cleanses, helping them arrange and store their remaining possessions. She helps them transform their homes into a space that is cleaner, lighter, and noticeably happier.
Plants and Flowers Make Us Happy
When we bring nature into our homes, it elevates our moods. An effective way to do this would be through house plants and flowers. A study that was conducted by Texas A&M* reported that the presence of plant life can help improve concentration and memory, as well as reducing stress.
There are many types of houseplants, many of which serve as natural air filters which help reduce allergens and improving the overall air quality. They can also increase the oxygen in the air, help stabilize the humidity, and improve the look of any room. There is little doubt why people feel more relaxed, at ease, and a lot more centered when plants are around.
Flowers can also help to lift our moods. In fact, flowers in the homes can reduce the chances of residents form developing depression. And besides their aesthetic beauty, flowers can have a relaxing and calming effect on a lot of people. Not only are flowers a great addition to just about any room, but they also make people happier.
Bringing Natural Elements to Boost Our Mood
The use of space, sunlight, plants, and flowers all help to make people feel happier and more relaxed inside their homes. All of these elements are natural ones. All through the history of mankind, we have tried to mimic the beauty of nature inside our homes. Whether it is through woven grass mats, animal furs, or a Christmas tree, we have been bringing nature into our personal spaces for thousands of years.
The practice of Feng Shui is influenced by shapes and textures that represent the natural elements of earth, wood, water, metal, and fire. Modern homes of today can incorporate these elements in many different ways. The use of pools and fountains is a great way to celebrate the water. Mirrors and any reflective surfaces can also provide the same benefits. Open windows and fans help to bring the wind but fabrics that move can also provide the same benefits. Candles and fireplaces are responsible for bringing fire. As for earth and metal, this is represented in materials like iron, silver, brass, stone, and wood.
Colors for Mental Health
A well-documented mood-stabilizing design is in the use of colors. Both researchers and designers continue to study the effects of colors and all their elements to improve the emotional well-being of people. When we talk of colors, we refer to reds, orange, and yellows as warm colors. Blues, greens, and purples are cool colors. This is not a coincidence. When we enter a noticeably warm room, we feel it physically. Cool colors make us feel the cold. This is one reason that the color red is so popular during the winter months while colors like teal and turquoise are popular during the summer.
Each color is also associated with certain emotions and decades of research has confirmed this idea.
- Red is the color associated with aggression, passion, and power.
- Orange is known for energy, competition, sports, and innovation.
- Yellow is often associated with warmth and relaxation.
- Green is a color best for soothing and making us feel calm.
- Blue is the color that we use to evoke a sense of freshness, calmness, and serenity.
- Purple evokes the feelings of luxury and privilege, at the same time the feeling of being special.
- Grey is used in accenting the homes as it is a neutral color and evokes balance.
- Brown is the color commonly found in nature. It makes us feel strong and reliable.
- People think that black is the absence of color but in reality, black means all colors are present. It is linked with death, mystery, or unhappiness. But it is also the color for seriousness, sophistication, and intellectualism.
- White is the most neutral color and one that is quite common in many homes. It helps make the room appear brighter, bigger, and more expansive.
It is also these personal spaces of ours that we live out important moments in our lives. It is this exact reason why our homes should be as comfortable, supportive, and relaxing as much as possible in order to provide us the needed emotional energy that we need to get through our day today.