What if your home was creating environmental stress and harming your health? What would you do if things around your home were actually creating anxiety in you? Would you get rid of that sofa, mirror or replace the wall paint if you thought it would give you diabetes or make you fat? Do you even believe environmental stress is a thing? You might be surprised at the harmful secrets your home is holding.
If you want more happiness in your life, these home decor tips can help you get the home of your dreams.
The proof is mounting and the guilty verdict is that home decor can create environmental stress, holding your immune system and emotional state ransom. As we spend more time working from home, what wasn’t always a priority might need your immediate attention if you want to stay home and healthy. Its time to understand your surroundings and your body to let your nervous system relax.
The kitchen below has soft round lights, round curved window and curved finishes to balance the hard surfaces like floors and long stone bench tops. These round and curved architectural features make this kitchen a calming space. White and bright is half way there, but every room needs pieces that bring it home, make it feel cozy, elevated and relaxing.
Home Decor Myth
The world is full of ads, images and posts with beautiful rooms, where everything is perfectly positioned. No-one tells you about the teams of experts who spent hours getting it magazine perfect. Experts trained to make rooms look more appealing, bigger, cuter, perfectly proportioned, relaxing and inviting.
And while you do you best to duplicate these images, keeping your eye on how it all looks, your home may be secretly keeping stressed, fatigued and low. Would you change the wall color if you thought it was making you over eat, raising your blood pressure or cause you to argue?
Its time to discover things you can do around your home to reduce environmental stress. You will feel better, sleep better and remove anxiety. You might not even know these things are affecting you; its time to keep an open mind. You might find you feel a whole lot better!
Spoiler Alert! Home decor is not a cure for clinical depression. Even so, the result of good home decor can help you manage your emotional and mental states, especially if you are going through a difficult time.
Too Many Sharp Edges Can Cause Elevated Anxiety
Imagine you’ve said ‘yes’ to looking after your sister’s 2 year old toddler for the first time. Suddenly everything in your living room and kitchen becomes an assault weapon. The coffee table, kitchen island, cupboard corners and bar stools become silent assassins. And that my friend is environmental stress.
And its exactly the same for you. Our brains interpret these sharp pointy edges as dangerous, our body releases cortisol and adrenaline, which over time compromises our health. It creates low grade anxiety. Its something you barely notice, even so, its there building over time like a time bomb. Your brain never sleeps.
The fix is to trick the brain, add some round smooth curves to soften everything to soothe the mind. The living room above is softened with a soft smoky glass vase, rounded velvet cushions, a rug, rounded furniture, indoor plants and curved rattan coffee table. What can you do to soften your rooms so they are inviting and help your brain to really relax?
You could add curved furniture. Curved furniture is trending because its a good antidote to hard edges. There’s no need to replace your furniture. You can get the same effect by adding (read investing in) curved, round objects in your rooms. Things like large round lamps, bowls or planters, round (not pointy) coffee tables, ottomans or curved mirrors.
You can fool the brain just by draping a throw or blanket over hard edges. This allows your mind and nervous system relax. R-e-l-a-x!
Let’s keep going.
To improve your mood simply increase the amount of natural light in your rooms and improve the air you breathe. Let’s see how that’s done.
Indoor Plants are Environmental Stress Warriors
Sometimes trends stay popular for good reasons even when we don’t understand why. Science is catching up. Take indoor plants, which are great environmental stress reducers. Every day research is growing; indoor plants, or live greenery, boost your mood and supports you by reducing loneliness and even sadness. Yes, you read that right.
Did you know you can get similar psychological benefits just looking at artwork showing trees and greenery?
Looking after a living being, even a simple plant, gives us meaning and purpose. Witnessing and contributing to a living thing gives us feelings of well being and gratification. It feels rewarding. The other wonderful benefit is pure clean air. More on that further below.
Natural Light Helps You and Your Home Decor
Well lit rooms feel bigger, sunnier and happier. They lift your mood instantly like a perfect summer’s day. Dreary rooms suddenly feel newer and fresher. Science shows that sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, the feel good chemical in the brain, and fresh clean air keeps you alert and energized and keeps dust mites at bay. The bedroom below uses soft colored walls, soft curtain fabrics and large windows to create a calming retreat effect. Lamps with soft round stone bases, soft textured bed linen and smooth warm floorboards, all contribute to a room that is designed for sleep.
To keep your rooms filled with boundless streams of natural light, make the most and even magnify what you have by using light paint colors, mirrors, light wallpapers and additional light sources to bounce natural light around your rooms. Fresh light paint quickly brings life back into any room as it helps to reflect light around the room.
Too much light at night won’t help your body wind down, ready for bed and sleep. Reduce lighting at night, using dimmers to control the level of light and the mood of each room. Your body will adjust and prepare for sleep, making dropping off to sleep easier and faster.
Reducing Stress with Art for Your Health’s Sake
The impact of art on our bodies is remarkable. The the University College London has discovered that beautiful wall art and sculptures make us feel as if we are in love! We all know that glorious feeling. Art gives you a hit of dopamine; the happy hormone. Patients in hospital exposed to art, suffered less pain symptoms and recovered quicker. But why wait until you are sick. In fact, why even get sick if you can prevent it with art that makes you feel constantly ‘in love’.
Adding art into rooms has an enduring effect on your well-being. And the price of art has nothing to do with it. A twenty dollar print can have the exact same psychological effect as a twenty thousand dollar original piece of art. Your subconscious can’t tell the difference. But the art must move you. It must draw you in, and keep you there, suspended in a place of happiness.
Art pieces with strong flowing colors can boost your energy, imagination and conversation. These pieces are perfect for shared family spaces like dining and lounging areas. Bedrooms need soft landscapes or abstracts in neutral shades to become therapeutic spaces to recuperate.
Extroverts will be naturally drawn to bolder art. Introverts may prefer subdued colors and pieces. Its good to remember that art can include photographs that make you smile; like a family photo or special moments. Choose pieces for each space carefully. Choose for your intention, such as sleeping, as well as your home decor. Its not only to add color and interest. Its to add smiles, boost your energy and keep your curious. That is why art is such a personal thing.
Positioned to Stay Calm
Let’s talk about furniture placement! Spaces that have a natural pathway and flow are easy to move through are perfect. They increase social interaction, reduce anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. They look seamless to the eye. Crowded spaces make you feel hemmed in. What you want to create is a feeling of expansion, as you move from room to room.
If a space feels overcrowded its because there are too many things in your visual pathway. If you have small rooms or find it difficult to think, breathe or concentrate try removing or rearranging items. Your goal is to have a better flow around your room. Remove furniture placed directly in front of doors or clutter in major traffic areas of the home.
Creating a fresh layout and traffic flow can deconstruct negative thought patterns as you brain interprets your home, and your situation, in a new way, removing old patterns that no longer serve you.
Rearranged in a new appealing way, your home decor looks fresh and new again. Without spending money, you have expanded what is possible, and created something new with the freedom to see what works for you in low stress way.
Mirroring Environmental Stress
The use of mirrors is widely used in interior design. They make rooms feel larger and brighter; which helps to fix issues with smaller or darker spaces. They have a special gift that expands light and magnifies the world around you. That’s the upside. When do mirrors add to your environmental stress?
The answer is; when you don’t like what they reflect back (like messy shelving). Another reason to keep your home clutter free. What you see is an amplification of your mess; which compounds your stress, day-after-day, building until something gives.
Next, there is a more personal issue. If you have any kind of anxiety around seeing your body, avoid too many mirrors. The extreme version of this disorder is Body Dysmorphic Disorder; a recurring preoccupation with your body or appearance. London’s Institute of Psychiatry also found that women without the disorder felt an elevated sense of anxiety and stress when looking in a mirror for long periods.
Remove your mirrors and replace them with artwork, and see if it makes a difference.
Clutter Increases Your Environmental Stress
Clutter can trigger periods of anxiety, unhappiness and stagnation. Clutter is all those things we are yet to do, unfinished reminders of things without homes, layers of missed opportunity and stagnant energy, piling up around us. Studies have shown that found that messy rooms can spike cortisol levels; leading to anxiety, stress and other related health issues. The brain can’t take it.
Constant piles of clutter compromises our immune systems, digestion of food, and even affects our sleep! Studies show that rooms constantly filled with clutter can lead to health conditions like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
If clutter overwhelms you, start working small; maybe a drawer, or a shelf in your closet. Micro-tasks can inspire you to do more. Or call in an expert to help you minimize, manage and control clutter. Its worth the investment if it reduces your stress and helps you to live a better life.
Does that mean surfaces without anything? No. We need visual inspiration because having nothing on your horizontal spaces can cause boredom. Your brain needs stimulation. Finding your sweet spot is good home decor design. This varies for most people depending on your personality, your family and how you like to manage your life.
Find your sweet spot by removing everything from horizontal surfaces and slowly reintroduce them, one by one. Stop adding more pieces when the room feels balanced for you.
You are What You Breathe In
We’ve already talked about how indoor plants make us feel more relaxed. They breathe in carbon and other toxins and breathe out oxygen; purifying the air we breathe. Adding indoor plants to rooms helps keep air fresh and circulating. But their benefits are limited. Many home furnishings and fibers give off gases and toxins. These might have been leaking into your rooms for years. And explains why people love sitting in gardens. Gases with toxins are invisible assassins that your body can’t always absorb and elminimate and they sit in your body, your organs, your tissues, slowly weakening you.
Homes with old plastics, laminates, synthetic fabrics, and glues and finishes holding them together, can have a negative cumulative effect on your health. Over time try swapping some of these synthetics and plastics out. Replace them with healthier alternatives like wood, clay, wool and jute. These are more tactile and natural and don’t give off long term gases. Your health will improve, your sleep will improve and you will be happier.
Paints can be filled with toxins and chemicals. Look for paints within your budget that don’t give off invisible gases, and help improve your air quality with freshly painted walls.
Remember to open your windows and use humidifies and purifiers to keep your home fresh and healthy.
Color Me Happy
Let’s finish with color. Studies have shown that cool colors like purples, greens and blues are more soothing; think blue skies, green meadows or a field of lilacs.
Blue is so powerful that it can slow down heart rate and blood pressure. Blue can calm the mind and body, making it perfect for the bedroom. However, some find blue depressing. Be aware of your body and your own preferences.
And while gray remains a popular home decor color, many find an all gray palette light-absorbing and depressing. Combat this by adding lighter, brighter and warm tones to lift it.
Yellows, reds and oranges, on the other side of the color spectrum are evocative warm colors and make us feel comforted.
For some red is energizing. It can reduce depression and increase energy. For others red brings on anger or aggression. Which means the color shade is important. If bright red is too stimulating for you, investigate softer shades of clays and pinks. The aim is to play with colors until you are happy and the goal is to create a place of rest and rejuvenation.
Orange is a perfect antidepressant. It helps feelings of confidence, improves the immune system and even digestion. Green helps us bring nature inside. Fresh, calming and relaxing, shades of green improve harmony and balance and reduces stress levels.
Brown is a neutral color that grounds us with its earthiness, wrapping us in comfort, security and trust. Shades of brown can reduce stress with their mellow tones. Yellow can lift your mood while it reduces stress, however, some find it distracting.
Blended together these home decor ideas will help create a place of rest and rejuvenation and make your home restful and comforting. Of course, you don’t have to do any of these things, its your choice. But you can probably tell what you need to do to improve your home and our health. Why not try a few?
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