World Mental Health Day.
Tuesday October 10th 2023
Mental Health seems to be an ever-growing issue among all sectors of society. Work and home life can be highly pressurized – financial and emotional worries can be incredibly stressful and lead to increased anxiety and tension.
Whilst we admit that Interior Design is hardly the cure-all answer to solving mental health issues, it can nonetheless be a trigger to both positive and negative emotions and can affect your mood drastically. Medical help, counselling and a good support system are essentials, but there are definite benefits to ensuring the design of your home or workplace create those positive vibes, rather than bringing more stress to your day!
How to change the chaos into calm:
There are many factors to think about that you may not even realise effect your mood. An ill planned space can produce feelings of apprehension and stress, whereas a carefully designed home or office can be calming and relaxing or vibrant and uplifting. So, what is it that makes such a difference?
Space and Layout - Cleverly arranging furniture and creating a focal point ensures you start with a coherent idea of where you are going with your space. Ask yourself what you need from the room and how you want to feel in it. Don’t trap yourself in by an oversized sideboard or sofa – they will end up annoying you if you have to squeeze passed them on a daily basis! Clutter is also a massive stress trigger, so mitigate this by creating innovative storage to avoid that feeling of impending chaos. I’d suggest a thorough clear out too, but I know I couldn’t follow my own advice there!
Colour - Your colour scheme should reflect the rooms’ purpose, whether that’s a lounge where you want to relax and wind down, or a dining space for socialising. Calming neutrals or subtle tones of your favourite colour can impact your mood and create that haven of tranquillity that really makes you feel at home, safe and comfortable. Vibrant and bold tones feel exciting and energizing and you can pour your own individuality into this design and surround yourself with what makes you happy. Layering colours and textures also helps create a more comprehensive and polished finish, because let’s face it, a half-finished project is pretty depressing…
Lighting – We all know that being in the big outdoors can boost our mood dramatically, but living in the UK means that the Mediterranean lifestyle is out of reach for any more than a few weeks a year. Therefore, making the most of any natural light a room offers is key. It gives us a link to the outside, whether your view is of rolling hills, a city tower block or simply sky. There are a few easy tricks for enhancing the natural light in a room – mirrors opposite windows, reflective surfaces and multiple light sources all work well to bounce back the existing light. Where there is little to no natural light in a room, it’s even more important to address what fixtures you will use – floor, wall and table lights can be combined to create ambience – mirrors and artwork highlighted by these lights can add to the interest and detract from the fact that natural light is scarce. Strip lights, never kind on our eyes, or our complexions, can be replaced with spotlights in offices, bathrooms or rooms requiring a certain level of brightness.
Bring the Outside In – Following on from the issue of natural light, bringing a bit of the outside indoors by placing plants around the house is an easy way to heighten your mood. Whilst faux plants are becoming more popular (and are increasingly stunning) studies do show that REAL plants provide various mental health benefits; not least that they relax us and decrease our levels of anxiety. Caring for them also provides focus, and, honestly, who can say they don’t talk to their plants??? It’s good for you! We won’t judge!!!
Fabrics – Texture, colour and appearance all provide a sensory experience for us and can be comforting or uplifting, calming or inspiring. The fabrics, wallpapers and furniture you choose for your room will produce a certain feeling when you see or touch them. Crisp linens on a bed can feel calming. A sofa upholstered in sumptuous velvet can feel like a hug. A brightly coloured Roman blind can make you smile. Cushions covered in boucle, mohair throws and textured weaves on footstools can also generate a sense of comfort, luxury and ultimately “home”.
It's not a medical breakthrough or an answer to depression, but the correct interior design can start your day off without the chaotic feel of an unorganised space bringing you down. It may help to diminish your dread of going to work if you know an inspiring and welcoming office awaits you.
Of course, none of this is a replacement for seeking out professional help for any mental health issues you may have. Take a look at the Mental Health Foundation website for more information or to support Mental Health Day – hold a Tea & Talk, or order and wear a green ribbon pin to raise awareness.