How to enhance our wellbeing and mental health by taking care of our visual diet

What we visually consume and the things we double-tap on make a difference. Let's keep things positive.

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Imagery can be harmful or healthy, nutritious or addictive. And today, more than ever before, this has become a huge issue with the enormous cultural impact of social platforms. Every social platform is full of retouched and addictive imagery, and it’s messing with our heads. Personally, I wanted to launch an initiative to check whether what we consume visually is as impactful as the activities we physically do.

I’m a photography-enthusiast. By 10am most mornings, I have already seen more than 200 images. Fourty photos on my phone digested even before I get into my shower. I hop on the bus and scroll through another fifty photos mindlessly. Look out of the window and see billboards and murals. Take a magazine and check the phone again.

Two hundred images. That is by 10am. By noon I have already doubled this number.

We are force-fed hundreds of photos on a daily basis. Retouched, snack-sized photos are served up fleetingly. They often leave us feeling empty and hollow. This diet is a consequence of our society, where we are hungry for information. But these are very often empty calories; visual calories that we take simply because they are in front of us.

Browsing through images on a tablet

Taking too much of these empty-calories images can lead to mental health issues and disorders such as anxiety, depression or narcissism.

Therefore the imagery we take in is really that important for our mental health. This is why we can (and we should) take care of the visual intake we are exposed to in the places where we spend the most time: our home. We can do this through interior design. Although the connection between our emotions and interior has gained attention over the last years, it exists for thousands of year now. Due to the rise of neuroscience, experts are doing very much-needed research on this topic and discovering the most astonishing results. They have proven the capability of interior design to evoke a negative or positive emotional response in people. This new evidence opens the door to design homes that intentionally manipulate decorative items with the purpose of encouraging happiness, creativity and peace of mind.

Many elements and objects inside our home have the potential to have a significant impact on our mood. For instance, the lighting and how the space is lit is really important for the overall ambiance. Obviously, the best lighting source is the sun, so the number of windows in the room can boost our happiness, increase sadness or even enhance anxiety. Natural light is key. A 2002 study proved that the presence of natural light was one of the critical factors in increasing sales for businesses, telling us that daylight improves human performance too.

Wall art and hanging imagery is also an important aspect. Very often in interior design, we can see wall art considered as an afterthought. This is what gets dealt with last, after the final coat of paint has dried up on our wall and the furniture has been arranged. However, I’m here to argue that when relegating wall art to the side-lines, you are actually missing out on a wonderful design opportunity. When selected thoughtfully, the correct wall art can provide for the whole room. You can even pick your own wall art content, by hanging photos from your past or a landscape that brings you good memories (the latter is something I particularly recommend, it really works for me). To get a quality printing of such images from your life, like an important place, person or event, bring your photos/documents to your local printing store or if you’re unsure where you should be heading just search on your phone for something like document printing near me or something along these lines. Dare we say it, but we really think wall art matters most when it comes to interior design.

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