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Mind

7 Simple Ways to Adjust your Environment to Improve your Mental Health

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Humans are very sensitive to our surroundings. For survival, safety, and security we subconsciously react to our environment. Although we are resilient and can handle many different circumstances, we are happiest when we live and work in an optimal environment. We look for attributes that will make us feel secure and safe. We also look for qualities such as a comfortable temperature for physical and mental wellbeing. We also seek an environment that is familiar but offers us the right amount of stimulus.

If you feel stressed, are having trouble sleeping, or experience more chronic mental health issues, changing your environment can have a profound impact. I’ve made many adjustments to my lifestyle and environment over the years in order to remain emotionally balanced and build a successful business. Here are a few of the things I’ve adjusted in my home and life which I’ve found to make a huge difference.

Tidyness

Your home and work environment can influence your behavior and motivation. From the get go, choosing a clean space with adequate storage and light will help you stay focused and more upbeat. I’ve always been attracted to maximalist interiors and dark, moody spaces. As a traveler, I collect art and objects from my explorations and love to display them around my house. However, I’ve found that I’m much happier and more productive when I live and work in light, minimalist spaces! Your brain actually has to process everything your eyes see, so by filling your space with decorations, piles of papers or clothing, you’re giving your mind more work to do. Now, instead of filling my entire house with stuff, I choose certain areas to decorate, like the living room where I don’t need to work or sleep.

Also, taking better care of your belongings helps them last longer, and helps you feel better too. Don’t believe me? Ask tidyness expert Marie Kondo. She wrote the book on tidying up and only holding on to the things that make you feel good. If you look at something every day that brings back difficult memories or you just don’t really like, your mind processes that negativity and it becomes part of your overall mood.

Environmental factors such as cleanliness can discourage or facilitate interactions with others. If you’re embarassed by your home being messy, you probably won’t invite anyone over. It may even make you want to just stay at home on the couch every night! Similarly, creating an office environment with comfortable chairs, privacy, and quality air will encourage people to stay, visit and chat with each other.

closet

Lighting

Natural light from the sun has a profound influence on our mental health. In America alone, more than 20% of people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter. Natural light and artificial lighting can both affect our moods and mental health. Lighting affects serotonin levels, mitochondrial energy, endorphin levels, vitamin D and nitric oxide levels.

If you experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or want some extra sunlight to boost your mood, you may want to try using an LED light therapy device. It emits healthy natural light without any damaging solar rays. I keep one on my desk during the Winter and I definitely notice the difference.

You can also take sunlight in pill form! I take a Vitamin D supplement every day. Vitamin D is also great for your skin.

Curb the noise

One of the reasons I moved out of Downtown Los Angeles was to find more peace and quiet. Constantly hearing cars, people, and machinery isn’t good for your peace of mind. This is especially true at night when you’re trying to sleep. If you’re the type of person who constantly has music playing, and you also feel anxious, stressed, or depressed, try taking the headphones off sometimes! I love music, but I probably listen to it about a third as much as I used to. Noise is also distracting, especially if you’re hearing conversations or lyrics when you’re trying to focus on work. There are tons of awesome focus music playlists online to choose from which can really amp up your productivity.

On a different note, light and sound can be incredibly therapeutic for your mental health. I never really enjoyed meditation until I started using light and sound therapy devices. Using a binaural beats device, your hear two slightly different tones in each ear, but your mind registers them as one tone. Researchers aren’t exactly sure yet how it works, but binaural beats affect your brain waves and can help you feel more relaxed, sleep better, or feel more energetic and awake, depending on the type of track you listen to. My meditation time is now one of my favorite parts of the day.

 

binaural

Establish boundaries and create privacy

From your home to your workplace to your friends and family, think about who brings you joy and energy, and who you might need to establish some boundaries with. Privacy and alone time is important, as is spending time with people who help you to feel supported and happy.

Before deciding to share information with anyone, consider what impact it will have on your mental state. Do you always feel defeated after talking about your career with your parents? Do you end up in an argument with your boyfriend when you talk about money? Think about how you can navigate those conversations differently, avoid them altogether, or seek individual or partner therapy to help improve the situation.

Air and water quality

Alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety are just some of the things that scientists have connected to air pollution. It is now apparent that air pollution affects not only our bodies, but also our mental health. According to one study by His State University, air pollution can cause damage to the brain.

Whenever I travel to Scandinavia, I notice how happy, grounded, and clear headed the people seem to be there. It’s just a theory, but I think the air and water quality has something to do with it! 

If you don’t live somewhere where you’re fortunate enough to have great air and water quality, putting an air filter in your home and office can help. I also use a water filter which removes chlorine, lead, mercury, arsenic, fluoride, and other heavy metals. I looked for a long time to find a filter which removes fluoride, and I haven’t done a test yet with this one but it claims that it does and other reviewers have tested it! Regular water filters don’t remove fluoride, it requires a special process. Fluoride gets added to our water supply and toothpaste, but it is actually a neurotoxin which can cause damage to your brain.

Going on walks in a park, beach, or mountains can also work wonders!

 

Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher

Colors

Colors have influence over our energy and mindset. Have you noticed that the inside of airplanes are always neutral tones, blues and gray? I know an airplane interior designer and she told me they carefully design planes to keep passengers calm and relaxed.

Putting a fresh coat of paint on your bedroom, kitchen, or office walls can change the way you feel when you’re in that room. If you’re interested in learning which colors are best for different spaces, check out books about the traditional art of feng shui.

Get in tune with nature

The use of plants at home or work has been shown to enhance the quality of air and people’s cognitive abilities. Nature provides stress relief. 

If you feel depressed, stressed or anxious, environmental factors like light, color, air quality and noise might be impacting your mental health. This squashes your creativity and joy and diminishes productivity. However, you can make some simple environmental adjustments to de-clutter your mind and body for improved mental health.

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