Once the holiday season is over and we’ve put away all the baubles and lights, the cold and the short winter days take a toll on our mood.
Can decorating be a remedy for seasonal depression? Here’s what we know.
The impact of our environment
Where we live has an impact on our psychological state. “Our home is a place of refuge, a reflection of our inner state. When we’re not doing well, it can become disorganized and chaotic, and that can worsen our depression,” explains Gaëtan Roussy, President of the Association of Psychologists of Québec.
Although our mental health can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as work or relationships, our brains are also shaped by their environment. “What sets humans apart is their ability to adapt. They build and adapt their living environment to their way of being,” explains Roussy. “Their home becomes a place where they are less stimulated, where they don’t have to pay as much attention…Home allows us to settle down, take stock and regain balance.” Ahh, so now we understand why we love coming home after a week away.
So how can we make home a place that can boost our mood when we haven’t just been on vacation? Roussy says decor can help. Candles, which provide a comforting, meditative light – Scandinavians light them during the darkest months of the year, even during the day – books, music, home fragrances and well-chosen photos or works of art that are not too neutral or aggressive all can help to elevate serotonin.
Yannick Laurin, associate architect at La Shed Architecture, is convinced that the brightness of a space has an impact on well-being. “Our circadian rhythm, which is like the human body’s internal clock, needs light to set the pace of the day and give us the energy we need for our activities. A recent study carried out at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montré showed that patients who were exposed to better natural light recovered more quickly,” he points out.
But how do you bring light into your home? Start by maximizing windows and opening up living spaces. “People often find it hard to imagine the possibilities that exist for making their homes brighter, and that’s where we come in,” says the architect.
In winter, at our latitudes, artificial lighting also plays a very important role. Laurin recommends a variety of lighting sources, providing mainly indirect light, which is more diffused, to avoid visual fatigue. He also recommends using 2700K bulbs, which have a warm colour, and adding dimmers to modulate the light according to the time of day and the desired atmosphere.
According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, having house plants reduces anxiety and fatigue. Jacques Gagné, florist at Fleuriste Abaca, is convinced of the beneficial effect of bringing nature into your home. “Plants put our feet back on the ground. Just as we look after our pets, we need to look after our plants; it makes us feel useful, and proud too, when they’re growing well,” he explains.
Want to integrate plants into your home but don’t have a green thumb? Call a local nursery. They can help you choose plants that are easy to care for and well-suited to the sunlight conditions in your home.
Don’t underestimate the simple joys of a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money on them, and you don’t have to wait for a special occasion. Flowers take the gloom away. They’re a little luxury that brings pleasure and beauty,” says Gagné.
Marie-Chantal Milette, owner of the Kriptonie Agency, has been offering training courses on the power of colour for the past ten years. “White and grey, which have dominated interior design for the last twenty years, were a response to the need to reduce our mental workload, at a time when we were increasingly solicited by screens, news from all over the world, and so on. This situation hasn’t changed, but since the pandemic, we’ve reclaimed our living spaces and are now ready to introduce colour back into them,” she says.
To chase away the seasonal blues, Milette praises the power of yellow, which evokes light. “It promotes humour, enthusiasm and spontaneity,” she says. Other colours also have a positive effect on our mood. These include warm neutrals such as beige, light blues, which reduce anxiety, and green, which soothes. “Don’t be afraid to be bold with colour! It’s such an accessible way of adding joy and lightness to the home.”
Time to declutter
It’s hard to open up to pleasure and well-being when your home is cluttered. Mylène Houle Morency, a professional organizer, knows this from her own experience: “Many people experience stress as soon as they enter their home because they’re overwhelmed by the clutter. On a daily basis, they’re constantly looking for themselves in the clutter.
To overcome the chaos, she suggests taking things slowly. Start by tidying up areas of the house that don’t contain sentimental value: the medicine cabinet, the junk drawer in the kitchen, and so on. The important thing is to sort through our things. What do we keep? “What’s useful, what we really like and what we need. Decluttering our home will give us a great sense of satisfaction. Not only will we be able to free up space, but we’ll also be able to reduce the time we spend cleaning by at least 30%,” says Morency.
Accessories: A love story
For designer, author and design historian Vanessa Sicotte, there’s no doubt that our home should be a place of comfort.
The question to ask yourself is: “Is my home a positive element in my life?” If the answer is yes, so much the better. If not, then it’s time to work out what you could change to live happily in it.”
Accessories play a key role. Some people prefer minimalism, while others prefer abundance. “There are no rules about quantity; you just have to choose the items that speak to you in a positive way,” says Sicotte. In general, this will be a mix of objects with sentimental value, cozy accessories and beautiful souvenirs. “We’re thinking in particular of soft fabrics and rugs, pampering bath products, and photos that remind us of the life we’ve built for ourselves,” says the designer.
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Article source: www.styleathome.com