Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders don’t come with an off switch. There are no magic tricks that can make these mental health ailments disappear for good. With more than 10 million adults in the US suffering from mental health issues and an alarming rise of these illnesses among adolescents, finding ways to cope is essential.
Therapy, support groups, as well as your family and friends, can help. But did you know that the home you live in can also help you fight these disorders?
The secret is in creating a welcoming, relaxing living space through design elements. Now, there is no need to worry. You don’t have to drain your bank account to pay an interior designer. These 17 easy hacks can help you revamp your interior and boost your mental health with minimal investment and without too much effort.
1. Identify Major Design Problems
The most crucial step towards making your house a lovely home is identifying its main design issues. For instance, the lack of outdoor light or just a space you find stressful can increase your anxiety, panic attacks, or depression symptoms.
There are many things that make the environment unhealthy. It may be air quality, inappropriate lighting, irritating acoustics, and so on.
The quality of your furniture pieces and their arrangement can also have a negative impact on your mental health. It is typical to feel uneasy in crowded environments or with uncomfortable furniture. All these elements can lead to higher levels of stress. Therefore, it is essential to identify and fix them.
- The psychology of home: an overview of why your environment plays such an essential role in your lives.
- The connection between your home and the sense of well-being: how does your home affect your mental health and what one should do about it.
2. Let Your Rooms to Breathe
Crowded environments are stressful. But it’s not just the social crowds. Besides the rush hour traffic, overcrowded offices, and hoards of people on the streets, a crowded house also has the same effect on your mental health.
The easiest way to taking some of the burden off is by de-cluttering your home. Get rid of all unnecessary items, including pieces of furniture and decorations. An airier room can easily transmit a sense of peace and help reduce stress and anxiety after a hard day.
Minimalist furnishings also make it easier to clean your home, which can further improve your mood and overall mental health.
- The cost of clutter: how a crowded home can impact your mental health and your daily life.
- Crowded living and its association with mental ill-health: a study investigating the effects of crowded living on mental health, including anxiety and depression.
- Crowding, an environmental stressor: crowding acts as an environmental stressor on most living-being.
3. Add Splashes of Color
Many studies show that color can have a powerful psychological effect. Getting creative in your home can be a cost-effective and efficient way to refresh your state of mind.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match. For instance, you can choose bedding, furniture, and decorative elements that complement your walls’ colors. Incorporate soothing colors, such as shades of green and light blue.
Wall paint that can replicate the effect of sunlight can also have an overall positive impact on your mood.
However, it is best to avoid mentally stimulating hues, such as orange or red. Go for soft neutrals to create a calming effect, and add hints of dark blue or grey to create focal points and accents.
4. Spruce Up Your Space
According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, houseplants are linked to multiple positive benefits, including boosted mood levels, reduced fatigue, and lower anxiety.
It’s all about bringing life and energy into your home, especially if you suffer from seasonal mood disorders.
If your rooms don’t have scenic views, putting some plants by the window, mostly flowering plants with bright colors such as red, or pink, can boost your motivation, reduce anxiety and depression, and positively impact your mind.
5. Pay Attention to Lighting
A study by the University of Toronto and published by Science Daily suggests that too bright light can intensify our feelings, either positive or negative. As such, turning down the light and paying attention to the overall interior lighting can help you make more rational decisions and reduce stress levels.
The type of light you choose can change based on the room. For instance, blue light is an excellent choice for a home office but inappropriate for a bedroom. Soft light is a perfect choice for your sleeping space, as it helps you relax.
It is also essential to ensure that your home gets plenty of natural light to help your circadian rhythm which helps you sleep better.
Indeed, exposure to natural light is essential for everyone and critical for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression occurring mainly in winter due to insufficient natural light.
6. Ban Electronics from Bedroom
The bedroom is one of the most crucial spaces of a home. As science suggests, the lack of good sleep can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
Sleeping in a comfortable bed is not the only concern. Electronics can also jeopardize your sleep; that’s why you should ban them from your sleeping space.
A survey from the National Sleep Foundation found that 90% of Americans use some technology before going to bed, leading to insomnia. The blue light emitted by notifications on smartphones or smartwatches can also interrupt your sleep.
Limiting television or computer use before bedtime is also crucial for improving the quality of your sleep.
- How technology impacts sleep quality: an overview of how gadgets used before bedtime contribute to keeping you awake.
- Bedtime use of technology and sleep problems in children: how technology use before bedtime compromises sleep quality and induces health and behavioral issues in children.
- Do electronic devices affect sleep?: an overview of how electronic reading and other electronic devices before bedtime affect sleep.
7. Organize Your Closet
Getting dressed for the day is often stressful, even if you don’t suffer from anxiety or depression. When you’re fighting these mental health issues, though, reducing stressors to a minimum is crucial. That’s why you should keep your closet organized.
According to interior designers and psychologists, creating a retail experience in your closet can help you choose an outfit and improve your overall mood.
To do this, create shelves at eye-level, add astonishing lighting to your closet, and sort your clothes by seasons, weather, and occasions.
- The link between clothes choices and our emotional state: how our clothing choice can improve our emotional state and help fight depression.
8. De-Clutter Your Drawers
While the overall aspect of your interior plays a prominent role in making you feel good when you’re at home, the details matter.
Indeed, opening a drawer only to find a real mess inside can have a strong negative impact on your mental well-being. Drawer organizers can help you de-clutter these hidden spaces, so you can find whatever you’re looking for without too much hassle. Not to mention the mental benefits this brings.
9. Bring Nature Indoors with a Mural
Living in the heart of a busy city is not synonymous with significant mental health. Connecting with nature through houseplants is excellent, but you can go one step further and bring nature indoors with a mural. There are dozens of wallpapers you can choose from.
A large painting is another excellent choice, but make sure it reflects what’s going on outside your home.
In other words, if you live at the seaside are, pick a painting or mural that pictures the beach and sea. If you live inland, a picture of mountains, a forest, or a meadow might be a more appropriate choice. Experts suggest this because your natural indoor area should be familiar and pleasing.
Depending on your budget, you can either go for an affordable decal or commission a local artist to revamp a wall or two.
- Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation: living in urban areas is associated with increased levels of stress and mental illness, but according to this study, accessible natural areas can help improve your mental health.
10. Add Personal Details
Brightening your home with items that make you happy is another simple way home design can help fight depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
The items you use should evoke positive memories and sensory experiences. For instance, you could create a feature wall with pictures of your beloved ones. Textured pillows and soft blankets that invite you to snuggle on the couch can also boost your mood.
Souvenirs or gifts received from your family and friends are other elements that can make beautiful decorations in your living or home office areas.
- Stress management: how to use self-help techniques to deal with stress and other mental health disorders.
11. Keep Bookshelves Half-Empty
Bookshelves are nice, and books are even nicer. But if you want to avoid the clutter effect, keep the bookshelves half-empty.
This isn’t a hard rule, but filling them to the brim can create a cluttered environment, which, as a result, can increase your levels of cortisol and stress, at least according to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
An excellent way to avoid clutter is by blending potted plants and framed photos with your books.
12. Limit Pattern Play
Patterns play an important role in home design, but just like clutter, they can be overwhelming. As a rule of thumb, remember that anything overwhelming can lead to excessive cortisol levels. And cortisol is not your friend when you suffer from anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you want your home design to help you fight those disorders, limit the number of patterns you decide to mix and match your home.
Opt for minimal chevron or striped patterns, but try to skip the polka dots, which may increase your anxiety.
13. Add Aromatherapy Elements
A study from the University of Miami School of Medicine proved that aromatherapy and in particular the scent of lavender has a significant role in improving your mood.
This scent induces relaxation and reduces anxiety. There are many ways to incorporate lavender in your interior.
Essential oil diffusers, lavender bundles, room deodorants, and even lavender soaps kept in your closet can fill the air with a refreshing scent.
- Scents and people’s mood and performance: how do perfumes affect your overall mood and work performance? An analysis by Brown University.
- Lavender oil and anxiety disorder: comprehensive research on the anxiolytic effects of lavender oil in subjects suffering from anxiety disorders.
- Lavender cleansing products and relaxation: body care products infused with lavender oil or fragrances can also induce relaxation and fight anxiety.
14. Limit The Mirrors
Interior designers praise the use of mirrors to create the illusion of space in tinier homes. However, the researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London found that looking in the mirror can increase anxiety in subjects concerned about their appearance.
The specialists recommend limiting the use of mirrors in your home.
Indeed, the only place that probably needs a mirror is your bathroom, but you should go mirror-free in all your other spaces.
15. Let in The Light
We already discussed the use of artificial light and its importance. However, natural light is even more important.
If you want to fight anxiety and depression, you should let the light flood your room. Ditch the heavy curtains and shades, and, if possible, opt for big windows.
Having big windows not only lets the sunlight in; it also gives you a better perspective on nature. Since natural light can help regulate the circadian rhythm, a lot of light during the day usually means better sleep too.
16. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Texture
While your home doesn’t need patterns, a simple home design hack to fight depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder brings texture to your home.
Texture, however, means a combination of natural materials. Think of a wool blanket on your sofa, a few ceramic flower pots, and a wooden coffee table, for instance. These natural finishes, combined with green elements, can improve air quality and boost your mood.
- Effects of natural elements on mental health: natural elements can help increase productivity, work attitude, and overall mental health.
17. Make Your Home Office Enjoyable
Working from home is enjoyable, but your home office can significantly influence your overall attitude towards work and general mental health.
The secret to fighting depression and anxiety when working from home is to make your workspace more enjoyable.
A friendly design, a few familiar elements, and few to no distractors are essential elements of a home office. Keep the colors neutral and focus on minimalism and functionality. This type of environment can increase your focus, reduce stress, and boost your productivity.
- Home offices and mental health: working from home can cause anxiety and depression, with people finding it hard to unplug after work and feeling lonely.
- Working from home and mental health: a few tips and tricks can help solve the main work from home issues, including stress and anxiety.
- Loneliness depression: how working from home can induce so-called loneliness depression.
A few simple changes in your home design can make a difference in managing your mental health disorders. Whether it’s stress, anxiety, or depression, you now know what to do to improve your mood when you’re at home.
Now, it’s your turn. What do you say? Which design hacks from this list are you going to use?
Tell me in a comment below; I’d love to hear from you. Share it with your friends. It might help them too. Thanks.