Decorating for Mental Health and Wellbeing
At the end of a long day, there is one place that will always open its door to us: home. Home is a steady constant in our hectic lives and minds, the safe harbor we can retreat to. The way we decorate our living space can significantly increase its ability to impart a sense of comfort and security. Here are seven tips to curating a home environment that promotes safety, relaxation, and rejuvenation for the benefit our mental and physical wellbeing.
Humans are inclined to make connections—with ourselves, others, and the world around us—that offer a sense of belonging and grounding. Making room for spaces that you and others feel comfortable in lays the foundation for such connections.
Individuals who need time to reconnect with themselves should create at least one environment that is private and individualized. Set it apart as a peaceful hideaway where you can reliably recharge. This could be a craft room where you retreat into your hobbies, a bedroom with clean sheets and warm blankets primed for napping, or even a plush armchair that you can sink into with a good book.
For socializing with family, friends, and loved ones, establish communal areas that are welcoming to groups. A neat entryway table where guests can set keys and bags, plenty of chairs for sharing meals at kitchen tables, and comfortable seating for chats in the living room all invite casual connection with the people you love.
Biophilia—the love of living things—is often applied to interior design to promote mental health and wellness. This is where that connection to "the world around us" mentioned in the previous section gets its day in the sun. Nature has the unique ability to restore vitality and offer a sense of peace, anchoring us to the rich ground that all life springs from.
Designers who emphasize biophilia might install a skylight to let more natural light in or open a window to promote refreshing airflow. Furniture and accessories made of natural materials like wood, leather, and linen bring us closer to the earth. Taking care of house plants or herb gardens may reduce feelings of anxiety and depression while also reminding us to take care of ourselves.
The various types and hues of lighting that illuminate our homes can have their own unique effect on our state of mind. Natural light is noted for its uplifting effects, such as reduced stress, higher productivity, and increased serotonin. The sun's cycle also reinforces our natural circadian rhythms, escorting us from alertness and positivity at its zenith to rest and recovery when it dips below the horizon. Let the sun spill through untreated windows and decorate with a light color palette to make the most of its rays. Click here for more tips on how to harness natural light in your home to its fullest potential.
Meanwhile, artificial lightning can be used to impart specific effects. If you are feeling unmotivated or sluggish, use cool, bright light to promote focus and productivity. A cool-hued task light above your work desk will energize you to finish that project you've had sitting around. Conversely, if you need comfort and relaxation, opt for soft, warm lighting. The gentle glow of string lights above your bed or candlelight in the living room will soften your surroundings and soothe the sharp edges of a strained mind.
Like lighting, color has observable effects on our psyche. Short wavelength colors like blue, green, and purple are soothing and can boost cognitive performance. Those same colors are often found in nature, which we know promotes serenity, relaxation, and openness. If you seek energy, cheerfulness, and coziness, decorating your space with bright and warm colors like red or orange will impart a zestful mood boost. Consider using different color palettes in different areas of your home, like bright, warm colors in the kitchen and soft, cool colors in the home office.
In general, neutral and low-contrast color schemes have soothing properties. With few shades competing for attention, gentle palettes reduce mental disruption and overstimulation. Monochrome interiors of cream, white, and grey demonstrate the beauty in simplicity, while soft pastels are a great way to incorporate color without overwhelming your surroundings.
When we are feeling overwhelmed or disconnected, stimulating the senses with textures, sounds, and smells can bring us back down to earth. Catering to physical sensations anchors us to our surroundings and seasons our memories.
Punctuate your space with textures that are both visibly and tangibly pleasing, such as a soft fuzzy blanket, faceted plant pot, or rattan chair. Scented candles will fill your surroundings with aromas you find calming or uplifting. Put on some background music or open your windows to let in the steady din of the outside world. Tweaking other ambient qualities like the brightness of light and the temperature on the thermostat will also go a long way toward making you feel grounded in your home
Putting your stamp on your space lends a sense of territory, establishment, and fulfilment. Unlike a sterile hotel room with no sense of permanence or personality, our homes can be centers of expression. Engaging environments also boost attention span, so fill your surroundings with things you enjoy doing and looking at. A bookshelf full of your favorite novels, a craft desk brimming with your current project, or a souvenir from your latest travels make the space feel unique and personal. Filling your home with things you enjoy instead of forcing yourself to adhere to a strict, regimented design plan is perhaps the simplest way to feel at rest in your own walls.
Just like an animal's enclosure in a zoo should be built to optimize their comfort and fulfill their needs, so too should our homes. Our homes are our habitats—arranging them in a way that feels the most natural encourages relaxed patterns and reduces stressors. Thoughtfully placing furniture to create clear walkways will promote unimpeded movement and give you space to spread out. Keeping items you use often within reach provides ease and accessibility. Tidying up excess clutter maintains flow, clarity, and spaciousness.
Your home should be a place that is gentle on your mind and spirit. Ultimately, whatever makes you feel at peace is the best medicine. Show us how your home environment enhances your mental health by tagging @WalkerEdison on social media.