You know when you’re coming home from a trip and you land and then it takes 42 years to unload the plane and then everyone else you traveled with has to stop at the restroom and then we’re in the wrong terminal so we have to tram over to the terminal where we parked and nothing is working out and YOU JUST WANT TO GO HOME? Haha! That is just the absolute worst. It’s a psychological NEED for us to get home AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. No, truly! That’s the science! While so much of our lives is out of our control (hello air travel), our home is a place where we have the final say. We retreat to our private spaces when we need spiritual, emotional, or physical protection. Go home. Unwind. Recharge. I get the excited shivers just reading those words!
However, some of our homes are not promoting our mental or emotional health! Some of our homes are causing us stress in an already stressful world. If you can’t retreat to your home where do you go?! According to the Mental Health Foundation, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health complaints. Our homes need to comfort, support, and heal us. Many design decisions have been shown to reduce stress and depression. Here are my 5 tips to creating a home that affects your mood/behavior/mental health in a positive way!
1. Get rid of clutter
I know, I know. You can only get rid of so much stuff unless you live alone! There are still things in your space that could probably be donated. My example is freebie cups. My collection is growing! I like to have 3 or 4 freebie cups—but 14 is getting to be too many! Getting rid of clutter does mean purging stuff but it can also mean solving flow problems. For example if there is no designated mail drop spot and mail just gets dropped here, there, and everywhere that is a problem that you could solve by placing a basket in a certain spot for mail only! This also applies to mental clutter—would a wall calendar that your family can access and see solve the problem of you being the Keeper of the Schedule? Would a visual calendar of Mommy’s Night for bedtime routine or Daddy’s Night for bedtime routine help your kids to emotionally prepare for bath time so that it’s a more peaceful operation?
2. Rethink your layout
Brains love space—it helps tell them we’ve got room to breathe and create and process! Is your layout cramping your brain’s style? Do you have too much furniture crammed into your bedroom because it was a hand-me-down from your parents? Or too much going on in your family room knowing that really we all pile onto one sofa? Be honest with your space requirements. What REALLY needs to be stored there or used there. If it can be moved or rearranged, do it!
3. Let in more light
You can’t expect to thrive emotionally in a dark cave! Haha! If we want to pursue emotional and spiritual healing our bodies require sunlight! We all laugh about seasonal depression in the winter but it is a real thing—our bodies need sunlight to truly thrive. At minimum—open your blinds or drapes. Let the light in. If that’s not doing it, do you need to investigate solar tubes or skylights? Or should you rearrange the spaces in your house so that your brightest spaces aren’t rarely used guest bedrooms but family playrooms instead? Just because it was listed as “home office” on the architect’s plans doesn’t mean that is how we must use it!
4. Add plants, flowers, and trees.
Biophilia is the human tendency to seek connection with nature. Though this theory is just a hypothesis I’ve seen it in my own life! I’m feeling overwhelmed by people and their demands on me but five minutes with my toes in the grass and I’m already seeing an uptick in my own optimism. Adding living walls or house plants to our spaces can make us 6% more productive, 15% happier, and 15% more creative—to just list a few benefits! Real plants would be most beneficial but I’ve seen plenty of faux fiddle leaf fig trees that would be a great starting point if you don’t have a green thumb.
5. Primary focus is on the needs of the occupants of the space!
Ultimately the space is for YOU to use. So what makes YOU happier, healthier, or safer? Be honest! We don’t all have to live in butter-yellow kitchens to maximize our happiness—greens, blues, and pinks make ME happy so those are the colors I use in my house!