Thanks to hundreds of campaigns and charities working against the mental health stigma, more people than ever are stepping out to speak openly about issues, get help and support each other. The idea of having counselling with practices like Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy even 15 years ago would have often been something people would hide from their peers but is now common and actually very normal. Along with this revolution has come a huge number of ways to help support your daily mental health. Mindfulness apps, Spotify playlists and help from budding mental health sufferers posting about their issues across social media are all becoming very popular and helpful for those who are suffering. But as well as daily tools there are also more long term things that can be done and one of these is in fact interior design. It may seem like bandwagon jumping but actually how a room is decorated has long been something people have considered important to how you feel.
While mental health as a subject has not been something for public discussion, historically how a room is designed and laid out certainly has. The art of Feng Shui has reportedly been around since 4000 BC and is still very much practiced today. While many people may not follow or believe in the process there’s no doubt that the Ancient Chinese practice has been used by a lot of people for a very long time. The idea of harmonising people with their surroundings in order be happier, more productive and the like does lend itself to supporting daily mental well-being. That being said from a scientific point of view there is no evidence to support this specific process works in a measureable way.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that natural light can help with a number of conditions. Certainly anyone suffering from Seasonal Affected Disorder benefit from natural light. But it may also play part is lessening some of the effects of other more serious issues too. Making sure any rooms you are going to spend a lot of time in have good natural light is therefore very important. As more and more people work from home this become even more important and any kind of home office should have a good window. But it is not just about the window itself, think about how the curtains may actually impact the light coming in even when they are back. The same goes for blinds, even when open some blinds still cut a lot of light out.
There is a lot of evidence stating that colour affects our responses to things. Reds and bold dark colours can have a negative effect in some cases; so much so that teachers often choose not to use a red pen when marking school work. Greens and blues can help with feelings of calmness which may be very useful to people suffering from anxiety issues. Bright oranges and yellows are said to help us communicate and socialise better too. In terms of mental health opting for calming and positive colours may play a small but useful role in supporting daily mental health and helping to minimise effects of ongoing conditions.
Being surrounded by plants is a positive experience for most people but that is not always very practical. However a small number of house plants can have some clear mental health benefits. According to the Royal Horticultural Society houseplants can help improve mood, reduce stress levels, reduce blood pressure and even increase attention span. While these factors may not specifically be mental health issues reducing them can certainly help reduce some of the effects of more serious issues. The fact that plants also produce oxygen is also a benefit, especially in a closed space like a small office.
Just like natural light, space is not always a factor that can be changed in a room. However it is an important factor when considering the use of certain rooms and certainly when considering setting up a home office or even choosing a place to live. Small rooms can create feelings of confinement and other negative emotions. However, spacious and airy rooms may help with relaxation and even happiness.
All of these factors can work together. Using the colour green to promote calming feelings can involve bringing in plants which also happen to have other benefits. The same goes for natural light and room size as these things often go hand in hand. Once again, interior design choices are not going to cure or completely remove mental health problems but making certain choices can play a very positive role in overall mental well-being in those who do not suffer serious conditions and also help mitigation in those that do.