With the lines between personal and working life becoming increasingly blurred, it’s important to create a positive environment for both this year. With more of us working remotely than ever (46% as of 2020) – aka our bedrooms, kitchens or sofa’s; making our physical environment as pleasant as possible is key to a more positive mind-set. Our physical environment around us can have a significant effect on how we think and behave, from the amount of clutter you have, intensity of the lights, to the colours of the walls, it all makes a difference. So if you’ve noticed you’ve been getting a bit irate recently, your environment could be playing a key role.
CLEANLINESS & ORGANISATION
The human brain is hard-wired to crave symmetry and order, so having a disorganised space can increase cortisol levels (stress) and impact our sense of control. Keeping our environment clean and tidy, together with the physicality of undertaking a task that has a beginning, middle and an end, can be therapeutic, whilst also meeting our need for safety and control. Not only does cleaning remove potential allergens and harmful bacteria, it can remove ‘visual clutter’ to release endorphins, as well as allowing us to focus and think more creatively. Visual clutter can refer to a no. of colours and shapes in a given area, so try to keep to two or three patterns max.
Lighting can have a biological impact on us, with the ability to improve our mood, disrupt our sleep, increase / decrease cognitive performance. It can evoke a sense of calmness, initiate intrigue and romance. Therefore, it’s important to get this right in our homes. White / blue light makes us feel more focused and energetic and yellow light helps us think more creatively / allows us to relax. Intense lighting can heighten and emotions so be mindful of where your light source is when working in different areas of your home. Natural lighting provides a boost for your mood and performance, so keep those blinds or curtains open to feel the real benefits.
Although the least visible, scent is the most important sensory features of a home. Think about it – it’s often our first impression when entering a home and really sets the tone for residents or visitors. It’s an inexpensive and accessible tool that can improve our mood and instantly change the ambience of our environment. Different scents work for different rooms, so ensuring you get the balance right is key. For example, in your working environment you might want to choose a scent that you associate with an energetic experience – i.e. a citrus grove or walks in the woods. Floral scents work well in areas of relaxation, i.e your bathroom or bedroom.
If you’re struggling to get out, bring the outside in. Many studies have demonstrated that being around nature instantly makes us feel more relaxed as green is a colour our brains naturally find soothing, so bringing a few plants into your home can dramatically change how your environment looks with minimal effort required. You don’t have to be a die hard botanist to help your plants grow (or not die!), there are loads of plants out there that are really easy to care for. The ‘snake plant’ is a good start, with additional benefits including better sleep. You can’t go wrong.