It seems like there is always a new reason to lose our minds every day. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, the nation is undeniably divided, and we are reeling from the effects of the worst global recession in a century.
Now more than ever, we need to find ways to take care of our mental health. We need a refuge from devastating headlines and worrying statistics. And at a time when we’re forced to spend more time at home than ever before due to the intermittent lockdowns, our homes need to become a place of healing, safety, and wellness.
How Interior Design Affects Mental Health
Look around the house. How does it make you feel? Is it conducive to rest and productivity?
Research shows that people can give their mental health a boost by implementing some simple interior design and decoration techniques in their homes. Psychological theorists from decades ago suggested that the interior design of our homes can contribute significantly to our emotional stability. It led to the science of interior design psychology, which studies the connection between the spacial and aesthetic elements of our environment and how it affects our cognition and behavior.
The elements of design that affect our mental health include:
- Lighting and color. Psychologically speaking, lighting affects our circadian rhythm, cognitive performance, presence of mind, and reaction time. Color, on the other hand, associates certain shades with psychological responses and can evoke certain emotions.
- Space and organization. How our room is spaced and organized can also greatly influence our mood and productivity.
- Patterns and textures. They can give our room a visual weight that informs our sense of balance and harmony.
Tips for Decorating to Boost Mental Health
There are changes-big and small-we can make in our home to improve our mental health and well-being. Here are some tips for designing and decorating your home, so it becomes a haven in a post-COVID-19 world.
Lighting and color
- Adjust your lighting according to the purpose of the room. For example, bedroom lights must evoke a feeling of relaxation, while kitchen lights must be bright for functional purposes.
- Go for natural light. There’s a reason why natural light is a major selling point in real estate-more than making our living rooms look Instagram-worthy, being exposed to the sun helps ward off seasonal affective depression. Ditch the curtains and incorporate mirrors into your space for the light to bounce off of.
- Choose wall colors that reflect light. White is a go-to color for those who want their rooms to reflect natural light and evoke a feeling of serenity. Soft pastels can do the trick as well.
- Use color wisely. Splashes of color not only give a space more personality; it can also significantly affect and inform our mood. Warm colors can induce feelings of coziness and warmth, while cool tones in soft shades can evoke feelings of calm and relaxation.
Patterns and textures
- Take care of some plants. Research shows that regularly seeing indoor and outdoor green can be greatly beneficial to our psychological well-being. Incorporate some plants into your room to help boost your mood. It has the added benefit of purifying indoor air quality as well.
- Choose one interesting piece of furniture and use it as a centerpiece. A room filled with too many over-the-top elements can overwhelm the senses. Choose one centerpiece, like a unique handcrafted table, and decorate the space around it.
Space and organization
- Keep your home spacious. Consider transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle. There’s a reason Mari Kondo’s philosophy-discarding everything that does not spark joy-took the world by storm last year. Studies show that clutter contributes to feelings of anxiety, lack of sleep, and loss of focus.
- Make space for essential activities. Chances are you’re spending much more time at home due to the intermittent lockdowns. Arrange your home in a way that allows room for the necessities. Make sure that these spaces don’t overlap so that your brain is trained that when you’re in the office, you’re there for work. When you’re in your bedroom, you’re there to rest; when you’re in the fitness room, you’re there to exercise. How your home is set up can significantly improve your mental wellness and productivity.
There’s no one-size-fits-all to decorating a home that’s designed to improve mental health; there are only principles. It’s all about what works for you. So look around your room and see what triggers negative emotional responses, and check what needs an overhaul and what only needs to be improved on. Re-decorating and re-arranging our homes may be stressful, but the benefits to your mental health will be worth it-especially in a pandemic.