When buying a new home, we’re trained to ask certain questions. We keep a watchful eye for telltale signs of disrepair. And we check walls carefully for cracks or signs of damp. What we don’t always think about is how this home could affect our mental health.
Significant research has been completed into how our environment affects our health. And we’re not just talking pollution, noise and ventilation here. In fact, it’s not just about physical health at all. Our immediate surroundings have an impact on our mental wellbeing. So, next time you’re considering real estate listings, think about your emotional and physical health.
The Country Mouse and The Town Mouse
Are you a country mouse? Do you yearn for the quiet solitude of country lanes where you can observe the changing of the seasons? Or do you prefer the noise and bustle of the city, complete with traffic and all night shops? We’re all different, and one person’s haven is another person’s hell. So there’s no ‘one size fits all solution’. The trick is not to find what works best for you. This may not be an option due to work considerations, schools, family commitments, etc. The real trick is working with what you have to make the most of your environment.
Identify Your Triggers
If your surroundings are negatively affecting your health, start by finding your triggers. Ask yourself what it is about your immediate environment that is jarring with you. Look at factors such as:
- Noise levels
- Decor and, in particular, color choices
- Clutter and tidiness
- Too little daylight or too much
- Harsh artificial lighting
- Too much or too little space
- Crowding or isolation
Several of these factors could be affecting your health, or it could be something else entirely. And the impact will vary from person to person.
How Do You Know If Your Surroundings Are Affecting Your Mental Health?
So how do you know if your surroundings are having a negative impact on your happiness and wellbeing? When you arrive home each evening how do you feel? Do you take a deep breath and immediately feel calm and relaxed? Are you able to let the strains of the day drift away? Or do you feel immediately irritated or uneasy? If the latter is true, try to pinpoint what exactly is causing it. Can you hear the neighbors making too much noise? Or do you have to step over piles of clutter to get to your kitchen? How do you sleep each evening? When you stop for a few minutes and listen to your body, it’s easier to identify what is causing negative feelings.
What Can You Do About It?
Not everyone has the luxury of living in their dream area. And, for most of us, it’s not always possible to up sticks whenever we want to. So, after you have identified your stress triggers, there are steps you can take to minimize them. If you’re living with other people, compromises have to be made, but a solution is always possible. If clutter is your trigger, it makes sense to declutter your home and set up strategies for keeping it tidy. If noise is an issue, speak to those neighbors or change the room you sleep in. Establish boundaries with the people you live. Ask them to respect your time and space.
Often, a few small changes are all you need to turn your stressful home into a peaceful haven.