It is often a great surprise realizing just how connected we are as a species. Objects, places, and people exert a rather large amount of influence over how we live, how we interact, and even how we make our choices. Humans by nature are very interactive and symbiotic; we live off our environment and experiences. It is then no wonder that these choices and these interactions play a large role in our overall wellbeing and mental health. This is why over the years’ researchers and medical practitioners have constantly developed sources that help us discover the never before noticed nexus/ impact of our environment, social interaction, food, and habit on our wellbeing and mental health.
How then is your choice of interior décor/ design linked or connected to your general wellbeing/ mental health?
Statistics have shown an alarming rate of mental illness with an estimate of at least 1 in 5 adults living with mental illness. This is added to the fact that the average person spends a ton amount of time indoors, in a building. For the younger generation; it’s school, for the older generation; it’s work and eventually, both categories make their way home, into another building. With the total amount of time spent indoors, it’s only normal that we discuss ways to ensure these spaces are wellbeing and mental health-friendly.
Colors, architectural designs, patterns, lighting, and organization of furniture have been shown to affect the mood and health of people. The ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui and the Indian practice of Vastu Shastra are all mechanisms employed to strike a balance between architecture, interior designs, and nature with the endpoint of ensuring the emotional wellbeing of persons who occupy these spaces. These practices recognize the human response to nature. It is clear that there’s a strong link between both concepts although often underrepresented.
There are several ways to incorporate these lessons when designing your personal space, office space, school, and hospital space bearing in mind that the ultimate goal is to strike a balance and make these spaces not just habitable but healthy.
- Use of Colors. Very bright and charged colors are known to be agitating and unsettling. The use of colors is to be purpose-specific. What is the utility of the space? Is it a hospital waiting room? Then having bright colors could be quite unsettling for patients and family members who probably agitated already are seeking a calmer and assuring environment. Humans are easily visually stimulated, so using cool color tones such as blue in place of yellow or red in a hospital may help with the ambiance and general calmness of the hospital. The aim is to be purpose-specific.
- Ergonomics. This is the inculcation of utility in designing spaces. The choice of furniture should be an important consideration when designing specific spaces for specific purposes. A user-friendly office chair would help with issues such as fatigue and body ache. This could also influence the willingness to work within the office space and in turn, help staff enjoy working. An unconducive workplace equals a hostile workplace.
- Organization of space. Cluttered or disorganized space often is the perfect ground for unhappiness or a sour mood. A key way to avoid this is to maximize your space by the usage of shelves/ cupboards, disposing of unwanted or old clutter (clothes, books, and even furniture). A clear and clean space is a clear mind. It is a fact; cleaning and organizing your space does improve your wellbeing and health and helps decrease stress levels.
- Lighting. There is no substitute for good old natural light. It is no wonder that prisons make use of solitary confinement away from windows and light as a form of punishment. Lighting helps lift moods and brings with it a form of awakening and rejuvenation that is great for the mental health and even for medical healing. Windows should be strategically positioned to enable a considerable amount of natural light in the building.
Design and Interior Décor is such an important determinant of mental health and wellbeing to be overlooked. What’s more, with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the need to stay home more often except for essential workers, it’s become even more clear the need to actively work on our wellbeing and health. A good start would be to evaluate your space and decide on how best to establish a balance between your wellbeing and your space. Take note of how you feel when in your space, how does going home affect your mood? Do you feel suffocated in your space? For employers, encourage your workers to speak up and then incorporate all that feedback in making the workplace a healthy place.