5 Ways to Create Healthy Home Environments
Your home is your castle and it should be a space that contributes to your wellness rather than challenging it.
As we spend upwards of 90 percent of our time indoors, much of that inside our homes, it makes sense to understand how our homes impact our well-being and pursue health-minded improvements that nourish the body, mind, and soul. With some thoughtful attention to design and a few simple fixes, we can all create home environments that support our health and wellness.
CONTROL THOSE LIGHTS
Why it’s important: During the daytime hours, light suppresses the body’s natural production of melatonin to help us feel more awake and alert. Research has tied daylight, in particular, to higher productivity and energy as well as improved mood. At night, however, the body neither wants nor needs light, as natural darkness cues the body to rest and reset. Light at night, in fact, is linked to anxiety, depression, and obesity.
How to do it: Put dimmers on light switches and install smart, adjustable color temperature light bulbs in key areas of the home to reinforce the body’s natural circadian rhythm. At night, limit the amount of light that can enter the home from external sources like the sun or landscape lighting by installing shades, curtains, or other window treatments. Inside the home, control light pollution from things such as chargers or electronics by placing a small strip of black electrical tape over light sources. Ambitious homeowners might even invest in solar-adaptive shades that automatically adjust to the sun’s movement.
Why it’s important: Though a fancy term, biophilia is little more than our innate sense as humans to want a connection with nature. Design with natural elements has been shown to increase calm, drive productivity, spark inspiration, and contribute to an overall sense of well-being.
How to do it: There are simple ways to bring the outdoors into a built environment. Wood floors and wood beams are two popular design choices that reconnect us to nature, while live plants, natural materials like bamboo, and sunlight pouring in through large windows further invite nature into our homes. Interestingly, even a photo of a scenic view can release serotonin, a nerve cell-produced chemical that is a natural mood stabilizer and helps with sleep and digestion.
CHOOSE COLOR WISELY
Why it’s important: A room’s color can play heavily on our mood and trigger certain emotional responses. Whereas a color like red is stimulating and energizing, the cool, calming effect of blue promotes mental focus. The wrong color in certain spaces can impact our well-being by eliciting different, unintended emotions.
How to do it: Carefully consider how you want a room to make you feel. Then, review the basic tenets of color psychology, factor in personal preference, and select wall colors that function just as you need them. While a vibrant orange will likely work great in an exercise space, it’s almost certain to overwhelm a bedroom.
PRIORITIZE AIR QUALITY
Why it’s important: Try as we might, the air in our homes can become polluted by cleaning products, fuel-burning appliances, tobacco products, and excess moisture. In fact, studies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have found that indoor air is generally 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Poor air quality can lead to health problems ranging from throat irritation and headaches to more significant conditions, such as long-term respiratory issues or even cancer.
How to do it: Maintain indoor air quality by regularly opening windows to ensure proper ventilation. Adding houseplants, which release oxygen and humidity into the air, can also help remove airborne toxins. You might also choose low VOC products and invest in an air purifier to help minimize indoor air pollutants like pollen and dust particles.
Why it’s important: Cluttered spaces – overpacked kitchen counters, shoes piled at the front door, and stuffed closets – can have a big impact on one’s physical and emotional health. Clutter can increase stress, drain your energy, and cloud the mind. Yet more, clutter can also harbor dust, mold, and mildew that hampers indoor air quality.
How to do it: Create a decluttering schedule and work to keep areas organized and tidy by having a designated space for items and putting them there. Many have adopted professional organizer Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method, which encourages people to only keep items in their home that spark joy and to then organize those items so they are easy to find.