In the United States, nearly one in five adults live with a mental health illness as reported on https://www.nimh.nih.gov/. The condition can be exacerbated by factors that range from past experiences such as abuse, trauma, and neglect to everyday stressors such as financial problems and feelings of loneliness. Poor mental health is also indicated by lifestyle factors like alcohol, diet, drugs, work, and lack of sleep. Understandably, overcoming mental health problems will require time, patience, and even treatments.

While reflecting on the factors mentioned above is a good step towards addressing them, it is equally important to create an environment conducive to rest. There’s a conflation between your surroundings and mental health. This is because the spaces you live in can reduce stress levels, provide satisfaction, and improve quality of life.

We’ve listed down four important ways you can optimize your space for mental health.

Let in natural sunlight

Prolonged darkness can cause changes in how your neurotransmitters release serotonin or dopamine, which are hormones largely associated with boosting your mood and regulating your energy levels. To be able to produce these hormones, our body requires sunlight exposure.

This study on https://www.mdpi.com/ states the correlation between exposure to sunlight and improved mental health might also stem from physical activity, which is in context of going outside to immerse yourself in a natural environment. However, if you struggle with mental health, it may be daunting to have to expend what energy you have left and go outside your house. Fortunately, it is just as easy to introduce sunlight into your own home by simply raising your blinds or opening your windows.

Have comfortable furniture

Slouching isn’t uncommon when you’ve been sitting down for hours on end. However, as explained on https://totalwellnessmagazine.org/, good posture can reduce muscle pains and backaches, increase energy levels, and improve your overall mood.

This is why it’s crucial to invest in furniture that is designed for comfort and good body alignment. For one, you should invest in an ergonomic chair. Characteristics of a good one listed on http://www.painfreeworking.com/ include having options for upright, mid-recline, and full recline positions. It should also come with adjustable lumbar support for the lower back to help reduce stress on your hips and feet. Of course, correcting your posture is just one advantage of comfortable furniture. If you’re having trouble with sleeping, consider also purchasing a good, sturdy mattress as it aids in promoting quality sleep.

Reduce clutter

As we described in our article on https://www.positivethinkingclinic.com.au/, our living space is a reflection of our minds. As such, carving out time to declutter your home can soothe your mind, help you feel more competent and efficient, and reinforce your control over your environment.

However, we know it may be difficult to take the initiative to do housework, especially when you’re overwhelmed and stressed. To start, block out a time in which you can clean. By visualizing a schedule, you will be more mindful about procrastinating on the task. Next, you can tackle small mounds of clutter first, like a pile of laundry or dirty dishes in the sink. Once you’ve fallen into the rhythm of tidying up, you’ll be able to handle more labour-intensive chores such as cleaning out your storage or organizing your kitchen.

Add art and greenery

Art and greenery don’t just fulfil an aesthetic purpose. For one, art has a cognitive-reflective aspect in that it can be an effective way to practice mindfulness— which helps manage mental health. Not only that, visual art fosters good responses to stress. Likewise, having greenery in your home goes beyond promoting better ventilation and clean air, it can also reduce stress levels commonly associated with feelings of loneliness.

If you want to incorporate art pieces and greenery into your living space, do remember that scale doesn’t matter. For example, you can place an aloe vera plant on your windowsill or work desk, or pin an art print you recently bought on your vanity mirror. These additions to your home should function as daily reminders to take a moment to yourself and serve as links to positive emotions.

Article written by Rae Ellis Jane

Exclusively for Positive Thinking Clinic