Life these days is extremely full-on and high-pressured for many of us. It can feel like everyone is always on the go, and most importantly, it often feels that we should be too. Work in the office, work at home, family life, maybe an entrepreneurial gig on the side, social media, friendships, health pursuits like the gym or running club – the list is endless. There isn’t anything wrong with leading a full life, but it does make sense to have a base that supports your need for escape, that supports your mental health.
UK mental health charity Mind tells us that 1 in 4 people will experience some sort of mental health issue each year. Cultivating an environment at home that gives you as much support as possible is a really good idea in a manic and sometimes panicked world that never stops. Here are some key aspects of the home to pay attention to, to create your very own haven for a much-needed regular brain break:
Natural light makes a big difference to us as humans. Deep inside us all is something called a circadian rhythm which regulates our sleep patterns. When that rhythm is disrupted we can feel off. The circadian rhythm relates to sunrise and sunset and although most of us can’t get up and go to bed with sunrise and sunset, we can get as much natural light as possible. It is especially important to avoid blue light from technology especially a few hours before bed because it is known to disturb our circadian rhythm.
Natural light also benefits us by helping us create Vitamin D, improving our mood and looking up is known to make us feel more hopeful. At home, open those curtains, consider switching block wooden doors for beautiful glass internal ones, clean those windows and do everything you can to let that natural light in.
Nature is known to be beneficial for the human body in lots of ways, but in regards to your mental health, it is a key player in reducing those blues and boosting those good vibes. Clear your garden, add some outdoor furniture and make your very own plot of nature somewhere you want to spend time in, your mental health demands it.
According to statistics, the UK holds on to more clutter per household than the average household in Europe. Clutter is also known to represent clutter in the mind and can induce stress, anxiety and low mood. Clear your home and consider taking a look at Minimalists documentary, Tiny Homes Nation and Marie Kondo on Netflix for inspiration on living a more simplistic life.
According to statistics, the average person is breathing in polluted indoor air for 155 hours a week. Indoor air we breathe in of course accounts for eating out and spending time in the office and public transport. However, our homes may not be the clean air environments we imagine they are. Some nasty indoor pollutants like mould and mildew can even affect our general health and make us ill.
This can contribute to feeling generally unwell, which does have a knock-on effect on our mental health. Do ventilate your home, eradicate any mould and mildew, deal with damp issues and look at reducing the use of strong chemical products like bleach. You can find tips on improving indoor air quality in this handy article.
Statistics show that a primary cause of stress in many of our lives is work. Working from home is something most of us do, even if we just take a quick Skype call or check our work emails. To avoid letting that stress seep into the home, try to have a specific ‘work’ space that you can shut away when you need to relax. If your laptop is for both work and pleasure, perhaps you could have a couple of different logins to separate both uses. You may also wish to ban work email checking and calls when you have gifted yourself with downtime at home.
Sleep is something that we should be loading up on at home, and a lack of sleep can cause us to feel grumpy and tired. Constant lack of sleep can build up and have a really negative effect on our overall well being. Focus on making your home a recharge pad by making these adjustments:
- Keep it cool
- Ban technology
- Invest in a comfortable mattress and bedding
- Keep pets out of the room
- Invest in good blackout curtains
- Reduce as much noise pollution as possible
The latest trend with Hygge is all about creating special moments for ourselves, and a big part of that is being social. Hygge encourages us to create social spaces in the home to spend time with friends and family making memories. If we don’t spend quality time with friends and family we can become lonely, and loneliness is known to be just as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
So, making that cosy hot chocolate outdoor space, or that inviting kitchen bench for social events and parties is actually highly beneficial for your mental health and forms an important part of creating a home environment that supports your mental health.
The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world, but those who fight and win battles that others know nothing about – Jonathan Harnisch
Your home can be your mental health support hub. In a world so changeable, busy and challenging, you owe it to yourself to have at least one place you can go to, to completely recharge. With just a few simple changes, your home environment will support good mental health, leaving you ready and able to make the most of all areas of your life day to day.