July 1st, 2020

How Your Home Environment Affects Your Mental Health

A woman drinking coffee and holding a laptop, while seated on a windowsill with the curtains opened to let daylight in.

The human mind and body are interconnected and can be affected by many things, including the environment you live in. A peaceful and visually appealing home setting can create a greater sense of wellbeing than a cluttered, chaotic home. Even the color of your walls and furnishings can affect your mental health. Studies have found that color can affect a person’s mood, behavior, and even cognitive function.

In one study, a college campus building was painted in a variety of colors to gauge the moods and sensations the colors evoked from the students. Shades of green gave students a sense of peace. Most students liked blue the most, while browns, orange, and grey were their least favorite colors. The cafeteria, which featured warm colors, such as yellows and reds, invoked the feeling of an inviting space that “made their meal more enjoyable.”

Here are some tips for transforming a depressing environment into one that’s uplifting and supportive of your life goals. These changes can also help you create an environment where you will be more receptive to remote counseling or other virtual health services. Set yourself up for success by making simple changes to your home environment that may very well improve your health and wellbeing.

1. Set up a place to sit and chat

Something as simple as how your living room furniture is arranged can cause your environment to feel like a space where people can be more (or less) social with each other. To encourage people to feel at ease and comfortable enough to relax and communicate, add comfortable chairs that invite people to sit for a while and talk.

Layout is key. Arrange your sofas and chairs to face each other, to encourage interactions. Adding soft textile items, such as throw pillows and soft blankets, can help others feel comfortable enough to let down their guard and speak openly from a vulnerable place. Whether you’re socializing with guests or home alone and connecting remotely with others, a warm and inviting space will encourage open communication.

2. Use color to lift your mood

As you learned from the principles of color theory, your mood and behavior can be affected by your surroundings. In a research project, prison cells were painted pink in an effort to calm inmates. It worked — prison custodians reported that the inmates were calmer and quieter, with fewer incidents of abusive behavior.

The study doesn’t mean that you need to live in a pink house (unless you love pink). But you can make changes to your environment to change your behavior. Allowing more natural light into your room can boost your mood. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that normally happens in the fall or winter, when the days are shorter. It is also known as the “winter blues.” One of the most effective ways to treat the condition is light therapy.

A lighter, brighter living environment can improve your sense of well-being, which can improve your behavior. Replace heavy old curtains or blinds with window sheers. Strategically place mirrors throughout a room to reflect the sunlight coming in from a window. Consider painting your rooms a light and cheerful color if you’d like to radiate a happier you. Or choose a light shade of green if you’d like to feel more tranquil.

3. Clear up clutter

A cluttered room reflects a cluttered mind. A discordant home environment can increase your stress levels. Women who live in a cluttered home produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

You don’t need a study to know that the time it takes every day to find your missing set of keys, trip over items on the floor on the way out the door, or shuffle around looking for your wallet leads to frustration and anger. Getting rid of clutter and organizing your home can feel empowering. It can also keep you from dealing with harmful levels of stress.

Besides removing clutter, turn to meditation and alternative medicines to help you manage stress. Regular meditation can ease stress and anxiety in people who are irritable, tend to worry often, or have trouble sleeping. Mindfulness meditation is beneficial to people of all ages, including children and teens. Setting up a quiet corner or space in your home where you can practice mindfulness will decrease your stress levels and improve how you feel in your home environment.

4. Use light and shade

Some people are naturally high strung. Others are more lethargic. Bright lights and bold, vibrant colors might make you feel energized. Opening the windows and letting in fresh air may improve your energy levels, so you can get more done. Earthy neutral colors such as mocha or grey could make you feel more introverted and quiet. You may want to rest and restore in a darker, neutral room.

There are times when it’s appropriate to boost your energy and other times when it’s time to relax and nest at home and heal. Use your surroundings to adapt your energy levels as needed.

5. Set the mood

The condition of your surroundings can help to relieve or worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you’re receiving treatment remotely from an online addiction treatment program, your home environment may be more important than ever. For example, a warm and cozy sitting area can help you feel safe in expressing your thoughts and feelings during remote therapy.

You may want to designate certain rooms and spaces in your home as uplifting, high-energy zones, with plenty of bright light and vibrant colors. But you’ll also need a zone where you feel sheltered enough to rest and relax. Your shelter zone may be darker, painted in rich, deep colors, and it may feature plenty of soft and cozy textiles and furnishings.

If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, contact Kolmac Integrated Behavioral Health for a consultation at (888) 331-5251. Patients can usually begin receiving telehealth treatment within 24 hours. We do not have waiting lists, so whether you call, come to one of our centers, or are referred, you can start your recovery right away. 

Our recovery centers are located in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. (We also see patients from New Jersey.)   


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