Mood Boosters For Your Home
Sometimes willpower isn't enough - so my team and I discussed some of the things that help us stay happy and healthy within our living spaces to share with ya'll. Here's what we came up with...
Plants can support our health and mood in many ways. Numerous studies have shown that rooms with plants are generally perceived as more cheerful, pleasant, and inviting. And not only that, they are also air-purifying, oxygen-producing, and good for your health!
Better Pain Tolerance & Lower Stress Levels
A collection of studies have concluded that people tend to have better tolerance for pain when plants are present. One of these reports also suggested that flowering plants have more positive effects on pain tolerance and distress than non-flowering plants. Other studies have indicated lower stress levels when adding plants to windowless work environments.
Improved Air Quality & Health
"According to research done by NASA back in the late 1980s, certain plants will even filter harmful pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the air. Some folks get headaches, asthma, or have chronic health issues from these VOCs (volatile organic compounds) — which could be off-gassing right this minute from your furniture, cleansers, and flooring!" -- says health journalist, Stacey Freed.
Fragrance & Immune System Support
Humans have been smelling plants and using aromatherapy to improve mood and health outcomes throughout human history. They have been used in warding off depression to fighting inflammation - and in recent years researchers have discovered some of the reasons why these methods have been so effective.
For example, Linalool is an organic compound found in a wide variety of plants and is one of the most commonly used extracts in aromatherapy and perfumes. It has a floral scent and is found naturally in tea, oranges, grapes, mangoes, lemon, tomato, basil and lavender, to name a few.
In one experiment, lead scientist Akio Nakamura and his team found that they could reduce the levels of neutrophil and lymphocyte (two key components of the immune system) in stressed-out lab rats, bringing them back to balanced levels by inhaling linalool!!! They also discovered that the organic compound reduced the activity of more than 100 genes that typically flip into overdrive during stressful situations.
Put Plants In Every Room
I recommend having a few plants in every room of your home - in bedrooms, your office space, and living room as well! Peace Lilies are one of my favorite and known to be excellent for air purification and can even remove mold spores. (If you have pets, be sure which ever plants you choose are safe for them.)
Some other great indoor plants great for those winter months include:
If you have opted for plants without fragrance, my team and I recommend accenting your mood boost initiative with some essential oils.
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is used therapeutically for anxiety and stress, and was once referred to as the "gladdening herb." According to National Geographic's Guide to Medicinal Herbs, "European and German authorities approve the use of lemon balm for tension, anxiety, and poor sleep."
2. Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
Nutmeg is an analgesic and mild stimulant. It is used therapeutically to support adrenal glands and for its anti-depressant qualities.
3. Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
This fresh sweet citrus has antibacterial, antiviral, disinfectant and restorative properties. It is primarily used therapeutically to relieve anxiety, and improve concentration. It has uplifting quality that can give your space a clean, bright and energizing aroma.
These uplifting oils are both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Both are used to promote joyousness and feelings of optimism. As a bonus, they both repel insects and can help you feel more mentally clear and focused.
5. Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
If citrus isn't your favorite, try Frankincense. This uplifting woody fragrance may be able to boost your immune system and help combat infections. It is commonly used for stress relief and nervous tension. It is one of my favorite mood boosters because it personally makes me feel more centered and is very calming.
Did you know that the natural light of a sunny day is over 100x brighter than typical indoor lighting?!
Natural light is essential to brain health, and in turn our emotional health. Our ancestors used to spend most of their days outside so our brains are wired for natural light. Our eyes even have special light receptors that are activated by natural light that sends signals straight to the middle of our brains, and these receptors ONLY respond to the unfiltered natural light of the outdoors.
If you think PNW gray skies won't do the trick -- you are mistaken! Even a gray, overcast day, is 3x brighter than your living room when all the lights are on! This is important because natural light boosts the production of serotonin in the brain, which can help calm the brain's depressive stress response.
Open Your Windows More And ONLY Use Sheer Curtains
This simple trick can have a big impact on your mood, so open your windows often, always draw the blinds during the day, and opt for light-colored sheer curtains as window coverings. This will help you receive as much natural light into your home as possible.
As an added bonus, people often feel most beautiful in natural light. So if you looking at yourself in the mirror and want to see an accurate reflection of your beauty, you'll want to have that natural lighting throughout your living space -- definitely a mood booster! ;)
Speaking of natural light and its effects on the brain, can your indoor lighting have effects also? Well, yes...
Ditch The Fluorescents
I have personally noticed a mood boost from having lights in my home in a variety of light spectra. There has been some research that criticizes the effects of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) on health -- which have been widely adopted in recent years, due to their energy efficiency. You can read more about the health impacts of fluorescent lights in this article in Psychology Today. Given these health concerns I would recommend that you remove them from your home and work space if you can, and at the very least, accent them with warm colored bulbs. Also be sure to buy "full spectrum" bulbs when you can, and stay away from using only LED bulbs as they can deliver way too much blue light. I love accenting my space with these super cool Edison bulbs.
Accent With More Ambient Warm Light
Have you heard of Himalayan salt lamps? The science behind these lamps appears to be soft, but they can provide a nice soft warm hue, which has been correlated with higher energy levels, mood elevation and a clearer mental state by regular "users." These claims seem to be reinforced by color theory and color psychology, so I'd say it's worth a shot. These lamps create a nice ambiance and I personally feel it has a calming effect. I would imagine they have the most benefit at night, when the color spectra in your home may be skewed in the cooler range, with lots of blue light. Give 'em a shot, and post your thoughts below!
Buy A Light Box
Dr. Stephen Ilardi, PhD, a renowned depression researcher suggests using a light box during the day. He says that among the many light box products on the market, one with white light and at least 10,000 lux is among your best options, such as this one. During winter months, a light box might be the closest thing you can get to simulating the effects of a sunny morning.
10 Key Mood-Boosting Strategies to Use At Home:
1. Place multiple live plants in every room
2. Diffuse mood boosting essential oils
3. Open your windows often
4. Draw the blinds/curtains during the day
5. Only use light colored sheers as window coverings
6. Mix up your light bulb assortment for a broader range of color
7. Minimize CFL and LED bulbs in your home
8. Buy "full spectrum" bulbs
9. Get a Himalayan salt lamp
10. Buy a light box
Ilardi, Stephen. The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs. Da Capo Press, 2009.