How Your Environment Affects Your Mental Health

Many different factors play a role in keeping us healthy. When it comes to mental wellness, where you live, who you spend time with, your activities and even the decor in your home have an impact on how you feel. Learning more about the effects of our surroundings on mental wellness can help us avoid stressful conditions and enjoy a happier life.

Can Your Environment Affect Your Mental Health?

For years, researchers have worked to better understand the links between our physical environment and mental health. Although our relationships and genetics are at the root of many issues, our home, location and workplace play a role as well.

How Your Home Affects Your Mental Health

Most of us spend more time at home than anywhere else, and small details there can contribute to our thoughts and moods. Cleanliness, lighting, bedding and even colors have a tremendous impact on our stress levels and overall mindset.

Messy environments can be overwhelming. According to Psychology Today, clutter bombards the senses with extra stimuli, which distracts us and makes it harder to relax. As cleanliness and organization problems get worse, they might interfere with your problem-solving abilities and may lead to feelings of embarrassment.

Indoor lighting also influences mental function and sleep quality. Artificial light lowers a person’s level of melatonin, which regulates our body’s circadian rhythms. Disruptions often result in inadequate rest, cognitive issues and an increased risk for depression and diabetes.

Although color perception is subjective, evidence suggests that different hues affect our emotional state. Warm colors like red, yellow and orange may feel cozy and comforting to some, while these hues can provoke hostility or anger in others. On the other hand, cool colors such as purple, blue and green might suggest soothing calm or sadness, depending on a person’s experience and perspective.

How Your Location Affects Your Mental Health

Some research suggests that where you live can impact your well-being. While both urban and rural dwellers experience mental health challenges, cities tend to have higher numbers of people diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders. One theory claims that air pollution and social isolation within a dense population may be to blame.

How Your Workplace Affects Your Mental Health

Your job has an important role in your overall health, too. Coworker conflicts, management issues and intimidating deadlines are obvious elements that take an emotional toll. However, the physical conditions in your workspace, especially lighting, furnishings, temperature, noise and workplace efficiency, trigger distracted thinking and decreased productivity as well as stress and fatigue.

Just like at home, poor office lighting disrupts sleep patterns and influences emotional states. The ergonomics of our workspaces also play a part. Worn-out or ill-fitting chairs and desks can lead to back or muscle pain, resulting in irritability and an increase in depressive symptoms.

How to Improve Your Environment for Your Mental Health

While it may be difficult to control where you live, you can make small changes to your home and office to create a more positive mental environment. Personalizing a space to meet your physical needs and other preferences decrease discomfort and stress while promoting a relaxed and positive attitude.

How to Improve Your Home Environment

Whether you prefer industrial, transitional or rustic design, customizing your home can boost your mental health. Surrounding yourself with decor that reflects your tastes makes your environment more soothing and comfortable. Even small accent pieces, like wall art or throw pillows, can add visual interest and change how you feel.

Understanding color theory helps you coordinate your furnishings with hues that connect to the room’s mood and purpose. For example, a palette of warm earth tones can make a living room seem cozy and safe. In bedrooms, painting the walls pale blue, rather than a bolder hue like yellow or red, is likely to inspire a calm, peaceful atmosphere.

Choosing the right mattress and bedding to encourage adequate sleep can also improve your mental health. As you plan, think about your sleep style, preferred comfort level and the room’s temperature to optimize your bed, so you wake up well-rested and rejuvenated.

How to Improve Your Workplace

Staying focused and productive can be challenging. Fortunately, little changes to your workspace can make a big difference. Creating a home office that fits your needs is a great option if your employer allows remote work. Whether you have a dedicated room or just use a small corner of the kitchen, the right setup will help you stay on task and reduce stress.

Finding the right desk for you is crucial for workplace wellness. Choose a model with an appropriate height along with a supportive chair. Proper sizing is essential to avoid the common neck and back pain associated with sedentary jobs. Maintaining a positive outlook is much easier when you’re comfortable.

The right lighting makes a difference as well. Natural light is ideal for boosting moods and fighting fatigue. If possible, arrange your home office in a spot that gets some sunlight during the day. Alternatively, choose bulbs that emit a soft, warm glow over harsher fluorescent lamps.

If you are setting up a homeschool classroom, the surrounding environment is even more vital. In addition to selecting child-size furniture, organization is key to reducing stress for everyone. Consider using color-coded bins to reduce clutter and make supplies easy to locate. Adding an area rug also gives the space a relaxed, cozy feel.

How Does Your Environment Affect You?

Just knowing that we have some control over a situation can inspire change and kick-start motivation. Think about how you can adapt your home or office space to encourage a more constructive mindset. Experiment with small adjustments and observe how they alter your mood.

Understanding how your environment affects your mental health can give those struggling with depression, anxiety and other conditions new tools to initiate positive change. However, support from a professional is always the first priority. If you or someone you know needs assistance, reach out to your primary care physician or contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness to find resources that can help.