As humans, we are very attuned to our environments. Where we live, work and play have a massive impact on our overall well being. Researchers have multiple times linked depression to subpar living environments¹. While you may not always have control over where you live, there are some ways you can change your environment and behaviors to maximize your good feelings. Here are 5 easy ways to bring a little extra happiness into your environment.
Whether it's a paper-strewn desk or a bedroom floor overrun with laundry, consider keeping your environment a little tidier. Sometimes all it takes is a little reorganization, and other times you may find yourself needing to get rid of some things.
Clutter is a form of "visual noise" that can trigger a stress response in the brain. For most people, there is a sweet spot between cluttered and spotless that helps them relax. Find where that spot is for you and try to keep your environment there.
If you set about decluttering your living space, try not to tackle too much at once. Pick small tasks that you can finish in a day such as organizing a drawer or clearing off one counter. Tackling achievable goals helps keep you motivated and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. If you stick with it, you will, piece by piece, see your environment improve, along with your mood.
Revamping your personal space may seem like a no-brainer, but making your space your own has more benefits than most people realize. Whether it's where you work, your home, or even your car, pick colors, decorations, and other environmental details that appeal to you.
Don't stop with looks, either. Try to delight all your senses by picking noises, smells, and textures that make you happy. What kind of flooring do you prefer? Are you a fan of the smell of diffusers or the sound of water fountains? Pick the items that you enjoy and make them a permanent part of your environment.
3. Eliminate Noise pollution
You may not always notice it, but the modern world is noisy which can be distracting and increase stress. Industrial noise is constant in most people's lives. The roar of car engines, the chatter from the television, even the loud music from next door can be subtly irritating. Consider silencing your electronics and swapping your radio for some more natural sound recordings. Even a few minutes of silence or natural sounds of the great outdoors can help you feel relaxed. Calm focus on sounds of nature is part of a foundational exercise of meditation.
4. Open The Curtains!
Humans are daytime creatures. We are both physically and mentally dependent on a certain amount of natural light. Seasonal affective disorder and other weather-specific mood issues are not only real; they are incredibly common. A lack of natural light can trick the brain into producing less serotonin and unbalance the body's natural hormone production².
Natural light deprivation is thought to be a leading cause of those long months of winter depression, fatigue, weight gain and other feelings of depression. However, even during the bright days of summer, these feelings can creep up if you're spending too much time in the dark or under unnatural lighting. Try to open up your living space as much as you can. Open curtains and blinds wherever possible and keep your windows clean to let in as much light as you can.
5. Bring Some Nature Inside
Research shows that house plants may have a more positive effect on our health and happiness than previously thought. Bringing plants into your home or office space is good for more than just stylish decoration. Studies have shown that tasks involving plants have both a psychological and physiological calming effect on participants³. That office fern may deserve a little bit more respect, after all.
These easy tips can help you improve your Environmental Wellness. Continue reading our Wellness Wisdom blog for more tips and tricks on how you can improve the other six dimensions of wellness.
(1) Schmidt C.W (August 2007). Environmental connections: a deeper look into mental illness
(2) Conti, L (August 2008) How Light Deprivation Causes Depression
(3) Lee, M.S; Lee, J; Park, B.J; Miyazaki, Y (April 2015). Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study