How home design can impact our mental health

As published on the What Works Centre for Wellbeing’s website, the key findings from this article by Ben Channon are:

Control (or even perceived control) is crucial. Having the space to decorate, personalise, organise, and regulate ourselves can help us reach that important level of comfort and ease in our own lives, with studies finding that messy homes can stimulate the release of cortisol, a hormone that makes us more stressed.

Spending time in nature has been shown to improve our happiness and mental wellbeing, through reducing stress, improving memory retention, and making us kinder and more creative. Design of our homes and neighbourhoods has to include access to green space, and home design that increases our connectivity with nature, to support our health and wellbeing.

Aesthetics can impact our emotional wellbeing, with a research study from the Journal of Marketing finding that people tend to favour gifts with a handmade appearance because they ‘contain more love’, which can inform how we consider materiality and furniture selection. Colour, proportion and individuality need to be considered carefully in design to evoke similar emotions of comfort and familiarity.

Light affects our circadian rhythm, which regulates the periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. Artificial light, such as blue light, can cause changes in that circadian rhythm, leading to sleep-wake disorders which have been linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease and, notably, depression.

Physical activity releases endorphins, as well as having an important impact on wellbeing ‘in the moment’ – which matter for mental wellbeing, so building design and the public realm should encourage day-to-day exercise, such as walking and cycling …”

You can read more from here.

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