The saying goes that your home is your castle, but more than a place to live and retreat from the world, our homes are also an influencer on our mental health. Not only can they make our mood lower and increase stress but they can also be used for positive change in our mental state. Creating a comfortable, peaceful and personalised space is being recognised as a powerful tool in relieving feelings of anxiety, depression and Seasonal Defective Disorder and presenter and interior designer Georgina Burnett has some great tips for making your personal space the most positive it can be.
You might not feel your home is big enough for your needs, but rather than dwell and make yourself feel negative about your living space, it’s more useful to create as much space you can. A simpler, pared down living environment where everything has its place and you feel calm is incredibly beneficial to your mind. It’s time for a Spring Clean!
“Your home needs to represent where you want to be or where you want to move towards in life, so you need empowering interiors to propel you forward. The first step must be to declutter, as an organised home means an organised mind”, says Georgina. “Removing excess clutter from mantelpieces, shelves and the tops of cupboards and storing in attics or under beds creates a minimalistic space that appears larger. The interior instantly becomes a more soothing and relaxing space, losing its overwhelming and demanding aura.”
If you don’t know where to even start with the task set yourself the challenge of tackling just one area at a time, even just one drawer or shelf and keep with the task until its complete. Even if you don’t like tidying up you will find the feeling of accomplishment will spur you on and soon you will master the process if not enjoy it.
More: Handy de-cluttering tips
The décor you chose for your home can make a massive impact to your mood when you are in it. While dark, heavy colours may look stunning in ads and on Instagram, they might not translate to an uplifting space in your home. The natural light levels, way you intend to use a room and personal style all need to be taken into consideration when choosing wall colour. And our personal reaction to a colour us just that, personal. So if you live with someone else it’s worth checking they feel the same way about a colour as you do. While you might find a bright yellow wall uplifting, for others it can be oppressive.
“I’ve experimented with clients by using a heart rate monitor whilst holding up colour cards in front of them, with astonishing results,” explains Georgina. “So play around with colours and assess how they make you and your family feel – then use what you find to help you choose the appropriate colour scheme for each room.”
The effect that nature and plants can have on our well-being is well proven so making them part of our home is a sensible way to reap the benefits. As Georgina explains: “According to many studies, indoor plants have been shown to improve your mood, reduce stress levels, increase productivity, attention span and even pain tolerance. For me, a room isn’t finished until it has at least one plant in it. It’s a great way to soften edges and bring a corner to life.”
House plants have never been more popular and specialist companies will even bring them to your home if you are not someone who feels naturally green fingered. Garden centres often have trained staff more than happy to help guide you if you don’t know where to start. “A deep green plant can not only add depth to the en vogue pastel schemes but can also help your wellbeing. If you want big impact plants though, Schefflera, otherwise known as Umbrella plant, Dracaena, Yukka and Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) are all great options for the home. To improve air quality incorporate for Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa), Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) or Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta) as these are great for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air.”
And if you have a reputation for killing even air plants, you can still enjoy the benefits of a greener household. “These days there are some incredible faux plants too which can have a placebo effect on lifting the mood of the less green-fingered amongst us,” says Georgina. “Also very popular at the moment are succulents. These pretty and interesting species take very little care – needing just the odd spritz with a water spray and can make for beautiful displays, even vertical wall art.”
Related: How gardening is good for your health
Upcycling looks so easy but will you ever get around to sorting out that dresser you currently hate? If not then you are living with something which makes you feel bad every time you see it! Those drawers which fall apart almost every time you open them? It’s time to let them go or finally get them fixed because the regular frustration and the low level anxiety and resentment that they are going to fail you are both creating negative energy in a place you should feel at peace.
“Feng Shui warns us that broken, cracked and faulty items in the home will affect our chi,” says Georgina. “Fix anything that is broken. Your furniture may have seen better days – maybe you have been clinging onto it for far too long. You could replace it and send the old items to charity, or even better upcycle. You would be amazed by what you can do with some chalk paint and decoupage – and it will save you money!” Check out local selling sites to sell or give away your old furniture and find some gems. Although you need to love what you next bring into your home rather than make do once again.