How Small Changes to your Interior Can Improve your Mental Health
It should come as no surprise with a category called “the Psychologists Couch” that I am a firm believer that your interior choices can affect your mood, how you feel in your environment. By understanding those emotions that play into your choices, why you have chosen to decorate in a certain way, well that can lead to rooms and homes that work for you. I wrote a blog post about that here.
Colour plays a huge role psychologically in your home which I started to explore here and in other posts in this section. The choice of colour can lead to a relaxing environment in, say, a bedroom. To creating a stimulating environment in a study. Decorating for children to stimulate their imagination is important too.
I decorate emotionally for my own reasons; it is absolutely no surprise that green, a calming and relaxing colour comes into my home in many different ways. But, what about if you could use this knowledge to create environments for people suffering from anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder? What if making certain changes to their environment could really help?
Today I am talking to Katie Lewis of Magari Interior Design, who also runs Head Space Design, and has spent time working with people with mental health challenges to see if small changes can improve their wellbeing.
Over to you Katie…………
I am a great believer that paint choices, furniture placement or even the flooring we choose can affect our mental health, getting our interiors right in our workplace or home can be invaluable as this can potentially reduce sick days, fatigue and encourage better wellbeing. Having worked with people suffering from mental health such as PTSD, depression and anxiety, it is clear to see how much of an impact little changes can make.
I worked with an ex-serviceman who suffered from PTSD who had to adapt back to civilian life. The main problem was his fear of not being able to see entrances and exits and not having control in his home. I worked with him to create a place where he felt safe and secure by knocking a partition wall down to create more of an open plan feel, but I also needed to strategically place mirrors in the areas where he sat so he could see what was behind and around him all of the time. Mirrors were created as gallery walls by using varied shapes and sized mirrors to fit within the scheme, as not only was it about functionality, but it had to be aesthetically pleasing too.
Changing little things throughout the home and workplace may just help your mental wellbeing.
Top 5 Tips for Home Changes that can Improve Mood.
A mirror can be strictly functional or the focal point in any room, either way it is a great way to create beauty, illusion and light. Wherever you decide to use a mirror make sure on the following:
The reflection is something worthy (you don’t want to reflect a brick wall for instance)
Avoid putting mirrors opposite each other as this can reflect negative energy across the room (using Feng sui)
Ask yourself what is its purpose? Decorative or functional? In the above story, we hear about the use of mirrors as both functional, the ex-serviceman could see around him which eased his fear, but the mirror placement was not just purely functional but aesthetically pleasing too.
Carpets or wood floor?
Generally speaking flooring materials are all about personal preference, durability and practicality. But, when it comes to therapy and our mental wellbeing studies have found that the material we use in our residential space can have an impact on our stress levels. The plantar aspect of the foot is perceived to be quite sensitive therefore the material we use under foot can impact on our well-being. Hard surfaces like wooden, tiled or concrete floors can be perceived as cold, hard and uncomfortable under foot unlike carpet or rugs as they provide a cushioning, comfort, warmth and the texture can be soothing on our nerves. Carpets can also create a sound proofing around the home reducing unnecessary noises that may agitate us.
Artwork is a great way to give you encouragement, guidance, pops of colour to break up a wall. Always have one piece that showcases a positive phrase or a “go to” word. Like this piece in my hallway which actually reminds me to breathe, when I walk past it. I stop, take a deep breath and carry on. It so simple but can be so effective. Create a gallery wall to help you combine all of your happy places, thoughts and family in one place. This will zone an area for that purpose only. A great place to create this gallery wall is on the largest wall in your home, such as the hallway so everyone can see it, or in an area of your home where you can relax and take some comfort in the items around you.
Use artwork that reflects lakes, forests or the sea, as these images can reduce anxiety by providing a relaxing image that we can relate to, or to visualise yourself being there.
Paint is a really important factor when it comes to moods and mental health. Colours impact us in different ways, so picking colours or various hues of a colour that makes you happy is key. Try to think of a time where you have been somewhere and the colour palette in the room made your heart sing and build from there. Green/blues are the go to calming colours that make you feel more relaxed, but I really believe that colour is down to personal preference and how it makes you feel.
Colour association is an important factor as certain colours may be a reminder of something good, bad, happy or sad.
A client I recently worked with wouldn’t allow himself to use white tones in any part of his home as he spent a lot of time in clinical environments such as hospitals or therapy rooms so this was an unhappy reminder of this time in his life. But other people may think it’s a pure, clean respectful colour that they would gladly use in the bedroom.
Colour impacts our lives in so many different ways through our clothes, food or environment.
Greenery in the home and workplace has so many benefits. It may be as simple as bringing the outside in. But, greenery clears the air of antioxidants and reduces your stress levels by keeping the air temperature down, reducing airbourne dust levels, reducing carbon dioxide and plants can also help reduce background noise.
According to studies offices filled with greenery are more productive, people have fewer sick days and make less mistakes and they are a lot happier in their surroundings. Bear in mind that we all relate to nature and the great outdoors as this is how our ancestors used to live before us.
Spider Plants are the perfect plant if you have animals as they are non-toxic. They help reduce the toxins in the air such as carbon monoxide.
Most of these plants are pretty hardy so the upkeep of them is very low. Great for busy lives!
A Snake Plant is great for bedrooms as it releases oxygen and can actually help you breathe better whilst sleeping.
English Ivy can reduce the airbourne faecal particles so the best place for these is in the bathroom as they can also reduce or combat mould levels.
So, while I rush out to buy Ivy plants for my bathroom, because Ewww, with three males in the house, the thought of airborne faecal matter may mean a night of disturbed sleep, I would just like to say thank you to Katie for some really insightful thoughts on how simple changes can help improve you wellbeing in your home and for those who may be particularly traumatised, as we heard above.
The Girl with The Green Sofa