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Last Updated on July 27, 2021 by Randy Withers, LCMHC
These days, home isn’t everything — It’s the only thing. As the coronavirus pandemic drags on and an increasing number of states are having to roll back their reopenings, many of us aren’t just living at home. We’re also working, learning, and socializing (albeit at a distance) from home.
Your home isn’t just the shelter that can save your life in the face of a global pandemic. It’s also the space that profoundly shapes, for better or worse, the quality of that life.
This article describes the important connection between your home environment and your mental health, and what you can do to make your home a healthy, happy, nurturing space.
Nix the Clutter
Studies show that more than 70% of Americans are under extreme stress — and that was before the pandemic. But stress is more than just uncomfortable. It’s dangerous. Chronic stress not only increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, but it also compromises the immune system, two things you don’t want, coronavirus spread or not.
Unfortunately, though, your home can be one of your life’s greatest stressors, especially if it’s a chaotic, disorganized mess. So if you’re going to make your home the safe haven you and your family deserve, then the first thing to do is get rid of the clutter.
Throw out the non-essentials and invest in some stylish but inexpensive shelving and storage containers for the things you need and love. That’s not only going to make it easier to find the things you want when you want them, but it’s just going to make your space more pleasant to be in.
Your rooms will feel fresher and airier. You’ll feel calmer and more peaceful if your eyes aren’t falling on junk everywhere you look.
Add a Little Life to Your Surroundings
And if we’re talking fresh and airy, once you’ve put the kibosh on the clutter, why not add some colorful flowers and healthy green plants in its place? Greenifying your space is great for your physical and mental health, especially with the virus forcing us to spend so much more of our time inside.
Best of all, if you live in a rental home, or you’re just a bit short on cash (and who isn’t right now?!), stocking up on plants and flowers is an inexpensive way to trick out your space without ticking off the landlord!
Let There Be Light
Anyone who’s ever spent any time under the glare of the fluorescent lights of a department store dressing room knows that lighting makes all the difference not only in how you look, but also how you feel. And if you’re one of the millions of Americans working from home right now, then your lighting game is going to have a big impact on your productivity.
Cool lighting is ideal for the home office because it has been shown to increase alertness and concentration. Soft, warm light, on the other hand, is perfect if you’re seeking a soothing, relaxing effect in a bedroom or den. And natural light is the ultimate mood elevator for every room, so keep those drapes and blinds open and let the sunshine in as much as you possibly can!
Clear the Air
It’s not just enough to make sure that your space looks and feels better. It’s also important that your space is better from a health perspective.
The simple fact is that you don’t have to leave your house to be exposed to environmental pollutants. When your home is cluttered, you’re more likely to significantly increase the amount of dust and allergens you’re breathing.
But even when your home is all lovely and organized and clutter-free, you can still be exposed to contaminants in your house. That could be anything from the use of lead-based paints in older homes to the presence of solvents and other chemicals in current constructions, any of which can not only pose serious physical health risks but can also significantly affect behavior, mood, and cognition.
So give your house a good “environmental audit” to protect your indoor air quality (IAQ). The EPA, CDC, and HUD are just a few of the agencies that have made a host of resources available to help you assess your home’s IAQ and clear it of the dangerous chemicals and those toxins in your furnishings, fixtures, and finishes that might not be obvious at first.
Hear No Evil/See No Evil
So, once you’ve done all this, you’re probably feeling pretty good. Your home is clutter-free, beautifully illuminated, adorned with lush plants, and vibrant blooms. The air you’re breathing is crisp and clean.
But if you want to finish the job, there are still a few more things you need to work on. Now is the time to focus on the atmosphere of your home. Focus on the decor of your home. Add artwork that makes you feel happy and calm. Ensures that everywhere your eye lands, you see something that inspires and pleases you.
And don’t forget to add sounds and scents you and your family love. Crank up the music that makes you want to dance on a stressful afternoon or that helps you drift off to sleep at the end of a hard day. Use electric candles and diffusers that feature your favorite scents to fill your home with mood-lifting aromas.
Feeling adventurous? Why not take a MasterClass in Interior Design and really up your house-game?
Home isn’t just where the heart is. Home, especially in the age of shelter-in-place orders, is the space that uplifts the spirit and soothes the mind.
But only if your environment is created with your mental and physical health in mind. And that means getting rid of the clutter and the contaminants and replacing them with only that which is comforting and calming, inspiring and uplifting, nourishing and nurturing to mind, body, and spirit.
- Infographic: Home Improvement Projects & Mental Health
- How Your Home Affects your Mental Health
- Home Renovation Can Be Good for Your Mental Health