Healthy Homes help create Healthy Minds
Firstly, just to say that it’s OK not to be OK. Mental health issues from low mood and trouble sleeping to anxiety and depression can affect us all at different levels at one time or another.
Whilst talking with friends, family or healthcare professionals helps, there are things we can do to improve our environment too.
As we spend around 90% of our lives indoors, disconnected with nature, this can have a physiological response on our bodies.
It’s not a glib cure for these ailments but is as good as any place to start to make improvements which could really make a difference. Healthy home = healthy mind.
Nature vs. Man-made
Interiors can have a positive impact on moods and mental state, physically protecting you from the pressure of the external environment.
Unlike our ancestors, our homes nowadays are built less and less with nature in mind.
Natural materials are used less, creating non-organic, linear structures made from plastic/man-made components.
Orientation is replaced with efficiency when planning large housing estates. Rooms are often not directed towards using maximum efficiency from the sun’s welcoming free light and heating during the day.
Are you all white?
Rented accommodation is often white (or magnolia) washed, creating sterile boxes.
From being cold, sterile and unsupportive to creating a state of decision-paralysis, there are many reasons why stereotypical minimalist white spaces should be avoided.
If this is your des-res then at least vary tones, hues and textures of white, bring in some wood tones, and for the love of (whatever you believe in), please fill it with plants and beautiful artwork.
A highly creative designer I knew years ago ended up with a stroke after working in an all-white room and I find it quite migraine triggering for me too! It’s just not natural and our bodies will struggle.
Why does it matter?
Our endocrine systems are controlled by our pituitary gland, which are nourished and nurtured by natural light.
Our innate ability to absorb that energy effects our whole quality of life.
By exposing our bodies daily to fresh air and natural daylight we are supporting our immune system.
This boosts our defences against stress and supports both mental and physical health with managing change.
What will happen?
There are several symptoms that can be caused by living in accommodation without sufficient light and air flow.
Our homes can really affect our ability to absorb this energy. We might feel drained, fatigued, depressed even.
Our ability to concentrate may be affected, we might feel dull, fuzzy – baby-brain (for those who’ve experienced it!), struggling with memory or decision making.
It can even lead to viral and bacterial infections.
So what can we do?
If you think any of the above symptoms could be affecting you, then I’d start with a walk in the fresh air to clear your head.
If you can take in any trees or nature enroute, then all the better!
Our eyes enjoy looking at nature – the shapes, colours, smells, textures.
We need it on a primal level.
Take it all in and appreciate the connection it brings you. It’s an instant de-stresser and will help bring clarity and perspective whilst the biophilic effect creates a sense of wellbeing within you.
Again, it’s not a cure, but it really will help you feel refreshed.
Once home again opening windows is a great start, encouraging cross flow, if possible, to move fresh air around your space.
It’s then worth doing a bit of an audit on your home to see how you could make quick wins.
Decluttering is always a biggy for most people. In the West, we generally have much more than we need.
Think of Japanese homes and the minimal way they live. This just isn’t most UK homes, and I expect, where relevant, it’s sadly not through choice.
Creating flow in your spaces encourages air circulation. Furniture which allows air to pass beneath it is ideal – especially when thinking of a new bed.
Help to breathe
Decluttering and mindful furniture choices can also help to reduce dust and make life easier when it comes to cleaning (a no-brainer then obviously!).
Asthma sufferers can benefit from natural flooring including wood, coir, sisal, jute and seagrass. Even flatwoven wool carpets allow dust to fall below, creating less of an issue.
The Asthma association suggests building wardrobes to the ceiling to avoid catching excess dust. Lots of nick-nacks and surfaces also collect dust, so something to be mindful of.
Light the way
Natural sunlight is a pure white light, comprising the seven spectrum colours. Everything we need for perfect health.
Each colour has its own vibrational wavelengths. Have you even used a crystal or prism of glass against a window to split the colours into a rainbow?
We absorb these colour energies through our skin and eyes, and they flow through us bringing health benefits.
If there are any frequencies missing (for example if you’ve only been exposed to fluorescent bulbs which don’t include all the colour frequencies, then it can lead you to feeling “off colour” and lead to disease and disharmony.
By relying on artificial lighting, we can be creating an environment where we are missing out on some of the vital colour frequencies.
This can lead to stress which can manifest itself in mental, emotional and physical symptoms.
Nervous fatigue, eye strain, irritability, hyperactivity, lack of concentration and lowered immune system.
Think of poor lighting in factory or school settings, where poor performance, lack of concentration or hyperactive behaviours can be to blame.
Inappropriate use of coloured light in our homes can also create similar disharmony.
Best stick to cool and warm white tones.
Natural daylight also provides vitamin D which is vital to our bodies.
As well as a lack of UVB, vitamin D deficiency can also be caused by poor nutrition or certain medical conditions. It can cause muscle weakness and inhibit calcium absorption causing issues with bones such as rickets in children or osteoporosis and brittle bones in the elderly.
SAD is also triggered by a lack of sunlight, causing an animalist urge to hibernate with a decrease in light levels.
Often first occurring between the ages of 18-30, symptoms can include lethargy, anxiety, sleep problems, low libido, food cravings and depression.
Symptoms can improve within 2-4 days when exposed to full spectrum lighting (1989 study).
Let nature in
Ideally, we all need 30 mins per day minimum exposure to natural sunlight without sunscreen or sunglasses. It won’t provide a cure, but it certainly can’t hurt to try. Its ok not to be ok.
Take those 30 minutes outside every day and see what difference it could make. Clear off those windowsills and open your curtains wide. Let the natural air and light in.
If anything above has resonated with you then I hope it helps. I’d love to hear how it helped you or anyone you know.
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