How to Instantly Brighten Your Mood When You’re Stuck Inside
This is coming from someone who’s been stuck at home at least as much as everyone else, but who has also been revamping the whole of my fiancé’s — and now, my flat. I moved in with him almost four months ago, and it was the epitome of a bachelor pad. Seriously.
The flat doesn’t have much access to light, and the décor was pretty dark all around. Needless to say, we both started feeling the effects of the COVID lockdown pretty quickly.
It had already been an agreement of ours that I’d start putting my feminine touch into the place. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t mess with things if they’re still functional and practical, but the style and organization were in need of a serious cleanse. We also both wanted a minimalist and clean living space. Four months later, I can say for certain this gradual evolution (of both our doing) has had a positive impact on both our mental states. And just in time, seeing how we might be in for another soft lockdown soon…
So if you find yourself going crazy at home, getting down, or just feeling anxious and slightly suffocated, don’t despair! Getting out of the house isn’t the only fix. There are plenty of slight adjustments you can make at home to help alleviate some of your mental clutter, and make your space more comforting and peaceful.
De-clutter! This has done wonders for our place. As they say, a cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. And it makes sense, honestly. Your environment affects your moods, how you feel, and your stress levels. According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners or RACGP, “Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganisation drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus.”
Clutter can also negatively impact your working memory, and “can make us feel stressed, anxious and depressed,” explains the RACGP.
This all leads to a low-level form of a consistent fight or flight response, which inevitably would put even the calmest person on edge. Clutter can affect your sleeping pattern, your relationships, and more. I.e., clutter is very bad.
So give yourself less to look at all the time. Quality over quantity is a must. Let there be more space between things, and simplify areas which have been over-complicated for some time now. Even lighten the load in storage areas. You’ll seriously feel lighter.
Pro tip: if you’re having a hard time letting stuff go, take a picture of it. A photo should bring about the same feelings if it’s something you like to look at, or just don’t want to forget.
Don’t get overwhelmed by how much you feel you need to get rid of. Instead, try handling it in phases. Do one round of load-lightening, then another, then another. After a few weeks, you’ll have more space in your home — and in your head, too, as you may find.
Lighten and brighten. I mentioned earlier how little access to light there is in our flat, right? That’s a constant — something you can’t easily adjust. You can, however, work with what can change, and that’s what we did. You gotta work with the variables.
So in our case, I changed the curtains on the windows we do have to sheer, flowy ones in white. We changed the large living room rug from brown to silver grey. I updated the throw pillows to whites, greys, and creams. The more light you bring in, the less likely you’ll be to feel down. It’s a thing.
This A. Vogel article lays it out perfectly:
“Natural sunlight increases our serotonin levels which can contribute to our overall happiness...”
So do what you can to lighten your place, and those lighter tones will catch sunlight more. Plus, having less coverings around your windows will allow in more natural light.
Get some plants. Having a little greenery around the home will bring a sense of peace to those who inhabit it. Ever hear someone say they feel ‘so at peace being in nature’? Yep, there is something magical about the calming effects that nature truly has.
Various experimental studies have shown that plants and nature have a positive effect on human beings in many different ways. Jonathan S. Kaplan, PhD discusses this topic in a Psychology Today article. He mentions another Miller-McCune article that explains how “having plants, going for a walk in the park, or even looking at a landscape poster could produce psychological benefits, reduce stress, and improve concentration.”
I’ve added a few on our small living room windowsill to start. We joke that the plants are a test of my motherhood skills pre-children. But in all seriousness, they’ve added such a tranquil aura to our home already.
Play some good music. It’s easy to forget about the power of music when you’re just at home, especially if it was always something you played when you were on your way somewhere. Music has so much influence over what we think and how we feel.
So if you’re feeling down, anxious, or stressed, try playing music that combats that feeling and takes your mind elsewhere. You could play music that’s calming, music that brings you back to halcyon times, or just whatever tends to put you in a good mood.
Do something productive/creative. If you find yourself stuck in an emotional rut, sometimes all you need to get yourself going again is a little momentum. This means you’ve gotta push yourself at first! It all falls into Newton’s first law: an object in motion tends to stay in motion.
You could start with doing some light organizing, reading, or writing. Working out or yoga and meditation are always great for a quick pick-me-up, too as they release actual happy chemicals in your brain. You could even finish a DIY project that’s been on the shelf for a while. Or, you could turn your efforts outward by helping someone else in some socially distant way — then you’ll get double benefits of feeling good and also feeling productive.
Hopefully the above tips can help you feel more comfortable, calm, and peaceful in your home like they have for us. At a time when home is the safest place, make sure it’s an environment where you can mentally decompress and prosper.