If you've ever been stressed out by a cluttered kitchen, or depressed by a dingy old bedroom, then you know how much environment can affect your mood. Bad lighting, clutter... even the color of the walls can really start to mess with your head. That's why it's incredibly important to pay attention to your surroundings, and to set up your your living space with your sanity in mind.
I know it sounds crazy, but when you choose to turn on a lamp, or paint the walls blue, you're essentially making a choice for how you want to feel. In fact, how you choose to decorate is a part of being human. According to an article by Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, Ph.D, on the University of Minnesota's website, "Since the earliest times, humans have needed to be sensitive to their surroundings to survive, which means that we have an innate awareness of our environment and seek out environments with certain qualities." This means we look for places that feel safe and secure. We desire physical comfort, as well as psychological comfort, such as with places that feel familiar, or rooms that have the right amount of stimulus, Kreitzer explained.
So yes, that bright cheery bedspread really will make you feel happier. And that glowing candle can totally have an impact on your stress. Here are some other environmental factors that can get deep down into your biology, and how you can alter your space for a better mood.
1. Consider The Flow Of Furniture
Most of us, when moving into an apartment, end up plopping things down in the most obvious of ways — couch against the wall, bed in the corner, etc. But not only does this make for a pretty boring setup, it can also mess with the energy of a room. That's because shoving furniture up against the wall creates negative energy and dead space, which really does nothing for your mood.
So try to switch things up, and resist the urge to place everything symmetrically. As Omar Elbaga noted on TinyBuddha.com, "Balance is more important than symmetry. The rule of thumb is to think outside the box and don’t decorate in the most obvious way." Think about putting your bed on an angle, creating a circle of chairs in a reading nook, or breaking up a room with your couch. Keep moving things around until the room feels right.
2. Think About That Mood Lighting
I don't know about you, but I hate those glaring overhead fluorescent lights. They are so jarring and office-like, so why they come standard in pretty much every apartment is completely beyond me. I'm constantly flicking them off in favor of a salt lamp, strand of twinkly lights, or a candle. (Hippie chic, I know.)
But while these glow-y lights are calming and much more homey, they don't offer much in the way of, well, light. That's where energy-efficient lightbulbs come into play. As Julia Millay Walsh noted on MyDomaine.com, "The harsh and glaring light generated by certain LED and CFL bulbs can set you on edge. Replace yours with energy-efficient bulbs, such as Finally or Cree, that replicates the warm, cozy feeling of incandescent bulbs."
You can also throw open your curtains and embrace natural light, which is known to improve the mood. As noted in an article on ApartmentTherapy.com, "Natural light is an amazing antidote to the blues. Although there are many studies linking darkness and depression, you don't need science to tell you that walking into a dark room doesn't exactly lift your spirits." So lighten things up with some soothing bulbs, comforting candles, and good old-fashioned natural light. Your spirits will be lifted in no time.
3. Invest In Some Round Furniture
Ever walk into a room and feel instantly calm? It probably had something to do with rounded furniture, which has been shown to make people feel more content, according to ApartmentTherapy.com. It may sound weird, but it's because jagged corners create something for the mind to subconsciously worry about (scary edges!), while curved decor helps the body relax. Hm, time to go shopping for some circular tables and chairs.
4. Stock Up On Things You Love
You spend a helluva lot of time in your home, so make sure it's full of stuff that makes you happy. Not only should it all feel nice — think plush towels, soft carpets, comfy pillows — but you should also surround yourself with things that spark happy memories. As Michelle Ullman noted on SFGate.com, "... make sure the things you are surrounded by are things that you love. Display photos of your family, pets, vacations and childhood memories ... If you have treasured belongings handed down from a loved grandparent or other relative, keep those things out where you can see them."
5. Get Rid Of All The Clutter
No one's ever tripped over an old pile of magazines and thought, "Ah, what bliss." That's because clutter is anything but relaxing. In fact, a messy apartment can have quite the negative impact on your mood. As Mikael Cho noted on Lifehacker.com, "Similar to what multitasking does to your brain, physical clutter overloads your senses, making you feel stressed, and impairs your ability to think creatively."
Do yourself a favor, and get rid of any junk that's clogging up your view. Clean off your shelves, keep surfaces devoid of junk, and make sure to put things away when you're done with them.
6. Choose Your Colors Wisely
Not everyone gets to paint their place. It's a rule we renters know all too well. But sometimes you find yourself with a brand spanking new home, or at least a lenient landlord. When that's the case, I highly recommend changing the vibe of your place with color.
Just be careful with which ones you choose, as certain shades really can affect the mood. According to an article on Freshome.com, reds, oranges and yellows can make a home feel warmer, and therefore super welcoming. Cool colors, such as shades of blue and lavender, can be calming in escape rooms, such as the bedroom. And green tones can be used to trigger inspiration, which may be a good choice for a home office. It may sound too good to be true, but these pops of color really can make all the difference.
7. Make The Place Smell Nice
If you've ever smelled something and been vividly transported back to the past, then you know how strongly the sense of smell is tied to memories and emotion. According to Ebaga, "Smell is like touching or tasting something from a distance. It’s a subtle thing that can have a huge impact on our mood."
Just like paint colors, you can choose certain scents to inspire different moods. As Lisa Evans noted on Entrepreneur.com, you should choose lemon to promote concentration, lavender to ease stress, rosemary for a quick pick-me-up, or peppermint to stimulate clear thinking. Stock up on some candles, essential oils, and aromatherapy, and start concocting your atmosphere.
8. Get Yourself Some Plants
There's nothing like fresh flowers, or a cute little succulent garden, to brighten up a space. That's because plants bring life and energy into the home, according to Beth Gilbert on EverydayHealth.com. "In fact, recent research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that houseplants are linked to a number of positive benefits, including lowered anxiety, reduced fatigue, and boosted mood levels," she added. So go grab yourself a potted plant, ASAP.
It really doesn't take much to change the mood of your apartment. Pay attention to the colors, the lighting, and the flow of the room, and change it up as needed for a happier home.
Images: Unsplash, (1); Giphy (8)