Using Feng Shui for Your Mental Health

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Feng Shui Houses — Front Door

BHDM

Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of arranging living spaces. Its goal is to maximize the flow of "qi" or "chi"—also known as energy or life force—in one's environment to create balance, peace, and harmony.

Some believe that feng shui may also improve mental health, and there is some scientific evidence to support this. Others say that while this practice does appear to offer these benefits, they aren't necessarily rooted in science but may be more of a placebo effect or a positive result that has been influenced by the mind.

Feng shui is a practice that attempts to balance two complementary life forces (yin and yang) by arranging furniture and decorations in a certain way. Some even use feng shui principles to design entire communities.

Mental Health Benefits of Feng Shui

It has long been proposed that one of the benefits of feng shui is better mental health. Here are some of the potential psychological advantages of this practice, according to research.

Improved Mood

Many factors can affect mood, including sleep. If you don't get enough rest regularly, you may feel irritable. Chronic sleep issues increase your risk of a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.

One study split 134 participants into groups and gave some people recommendations for how to modify their bedrooms using feng shui, which were individualized based on the layout of each individual's bedroom. The participants then reported on their sleep and well-being, Those who incorporated feng shui principles in their sleeping environment reported a significant effect on sleep quality.

Other studies have found similar results using more objective measurements. An example is a case study that used an actigraph, a device that monitors movement during sleep to help assess sleep-wake cycles. It noted that the most preferable bedroom arrangement for sleep efficiency was consistent with feng shui principles. Some of these principles include placing the bed in a central position, avoiding mirrors within sight-lines of the bed, sleeping with the head pointed southward, and limiting electronic screens.

Another study didn't involve sleep but used virtual reality instead. This one reported that when subjects were exposed to different indoor environments, exposure to those following feng shui principles resulted in more positive mood states. Thus, researchers concluded that feng shui is based on science, at least in part.

Reduced Stress

Typically, we use the word "stressed" to describe how we feel when we are overwhelmed or faced with some type of challenge. Another type of stress, geopathic stress, can affect mental health.

Geopathic stress occurs when the Earth's electromagnetic field is somehow disrupted, resulting in the release of radiation. This can have negative effects on physical health. One study found that people living in a geopathic stress zone tend to have higher heart rates.

Researchers believe that geopathic stress can also contribute to mental illness, such as depression, nervousness, and fatigue. Feng shui can help reduce this type of stress. Placing your bed or workstation in a geopathic stress-free zone might improve mental health.

Features that might lead to geopathic stress include geographic faults, pipes, sewers, tunnels, mineral deposits, utility lines, and underground water supplies. While it is not always possible to detect all of these sources, avoiding those you are aware of, such as pipes and utility lines, may be helpful.

Higher Quality of Life

A 2021 study published in the International Design Journal asked 200 females who were married with children about the design of their home and the quality of their life in different areas (psychological, physical, social, etc.). Those with homes designed according to feng shui principles reported a higher quality of life overall.

Some researchers suggest that following feng shui principles when designing an inpatient care facility may help create a more safe and supportive environment for people with dementia.

Although studies such as these seem to connect feng shui with improved mental health, many in the scientific community believe that the evidence is not compelling enough to support these claims, calling this practice more of a pseudoscience than actual science.

5 Elements of Feng Shui

Feng shui consists of five elements, each of which is said to have different impacts psychologically, ultimately affecting feelings of wellness and balance. These five elements (and their impacts) are:

  • Earth: Grounding, security, stability, balance
  • Fire: Passion, enthusiasm, boldness, expressiveness
  • Metal: Clarity, focus, logic, critical thinking
  • Water: Abundance, prosperity, insightfulness, wisdom
  • Wood: Creativity, new life, growth, intuition

Some people believe that a home must have each of these elements in order for its residents to be happy, and that the elements need to be balanced to promote success and advancement at work.

Whole Home Feng Shui Tips

If you would like to try feng shui in your home, here are a few practices to consider. These apply to all spaces in the home.

A white house with a sage French-style front door

Kate Marker Interiors

Leave an Open Path

When walking through your home, do you have a relatively unhindered path or must you detour around objects or pieces of furniture to move from one spot to another? If your path is blocked, it can also block your energy. Arrange furniture so you can move easily from room to room.

Take the Time to Declutter

According to feng shui, clutter is more than a distracting eyesore. It can block the flow of qi and generally prevent your life from moving forward. Taking the time to declutter involves putting things away after using them and getting rid of the items you no longer need.

Neatness counts where you can't see it as well. Keep the insides of drawers, cupboards, pantries, and closets organized. Clean these areas out periodically, donating what you can and throwing away items that are broken or otherwise can't be reused.

Keep Your Windows Clean

Sunlight is important in feng shui, with the sun representing the yang side of the life force. Keeping your windows clean allows the sun's energy to filter into the rooms of your home without resistance. It can also help you feel more energetic.

Mind Your Doors

Windows aren't the only permanent home fixtures that require your attention when applying feng shui principles. Your doors are important too.

Specifically, each door in your home needs to be able to open all the way so as not to block the flow of energy and allow opportunities to come into your life. Each one should also function properly, such as by not squeaking and being able to open or close with ease.

Hang Artwork Higher

If you feel like your energy is lagging or you tend to have feelings of sadness fairly regularly, take a look at the artwork on your walls. If it is hanging too low, this may be bringing you down. Move these pictures and images up a bit higher and see how you feel, making sure they're hung straight while you're at it.

Get a Few Plants

In feng shui, indoor plants represent nature and natural energy. They bring a feeling of freshness into your home, filling it with vibrancy and vitality.

When getting new houseplants, pay attention to what they need as far as light. This tells you whether you should place them near a window or if they can survive with a bit less sunlight. Take care of the plants to keep them healthy and strong and they can help do the same for you.

Show Your Gratitude

One of the core beliefs of feng shui is that everything has life. This includes your home and everything in it. Show your house gratitude for protecting you, keeping you safe, and providing a healthy environment. Give it thanks for all it does for you and your family.

Feng Shui Tips by Room

Some feng shui tips are more specific, applying to each room in your home differently. Here's how to incorporate feng shui principles on a room-by-room basis.

Entryway

Energy enters your home through the front door. That makes this space important for setting up up a good flow.

Feng Shui Entryway

Alexander Design

Start With the Exterior of the Door

Before getting into what to do inside the entryway for better feng shui, you also want the outside area to be inviting. Make sure the house numbers next to the door are easy to read, clean, and in good shape. The same guidelines apply when the numbers are on your door, such as when living in an apartment.

Invest in a Welcome Mat

A welcome mat gives your guests a comforting greeting while providing a place to get the dirt off their shoes before tracking it any further. This type of mat also welcomes positive energy into your home. So, it pays to invest in a nice front doormat.

Help the Energy Disperse

Just a breeze flows more quickly if the front door is open and in line with the back door, the same can happen with energy. Finding a way to slow this energy down helps it disperse around the house.

One way to slow energy is with a patterned rug. Placing a picture or some other type of artwork on the walls of the entryway can help as well. At the same time, you don't want to fill the entry so much that it feels full, cluttered, or stops the energy completely.

Entryways that directly face a set of stairs can benefit from a stair runner to keep the energy from going straight up and missing the ground floor. Placing some type of decoration on the floor at the top of the stairs can have the same effect.

Create an Open, Lighted Space

If the entryway is small, hang a mirror on the wall to help open it up, also opening the space for more opportunities to enter into your life. If the entryway is dark, put up a light that illuminates it so you can see more clearly.

Kitchen

There are also a few things you can do in the kitchen to help promote the flow of energy in this room.

Kitchen Feng Shui Tips

Space Exploration

Place the Stove in a Commanding Position

A commanding position is thought to help you feel more secure and in control and involves facing the door to the room, which is where the stove should be. In this position, you can see the door when cooking, with the best position being diagonal from the door versus directly in line with it.

Certainly, you can't always move a stove easily. So, if you can't see the door while cooking, consider putting up a mirror that allows you to see the door in the reflection.

Start an Herb Garden

While you may want to put other plants strategically around your home, the kitchen is a good place for an herb garden. According to feng shui, this helps draw abundance. Fresh herbs can also help support physical health, such as by boosting cognitive performance.

Incorporate Inspiration

Place things in your kitchen that inspire you. This might be having a shelf full of cookbooks that have been passed down through your family for generations, hanging pictures of your loved ones on the wall, or putting up artwork that has special meaning to you.

Living Room

The living room is often where we go to relax as we watch our favorite shows, enjoy time with family and friends, or curl up with a good book. Here's how to set up this room so it provides more balance and peace.

Feng shui living room
Amy Bartlam

Think About Function

When deciding what furniture to have in your living room, think about what you typically do there. This will help identify the type of furnishings you need. Also, think about how many people are generally in this room at the same time. If you entertain a lot, you would need more furniture than if you don't.

Place the Sofa in the Commanding Position

In the kitchen, the stove is in the commanding position. In the living room, it is the sofa that you want to position so you can see the entry to the room while sitting on it. Oftentimes, this means putting the sofa in the space that is opposite the door or room entryway.

Instead of pushing the sofa back against the wall, pull it out a bit—even if just a few inches. This allows the energy and air to flow around this piece of furniture.

Separate the TV and Fireplace

Have you noticed that in a lot of homes, people hang their televisions above their fireplace? Taking this approach can save space, but it's not the best from a feng shui standpoint.

Make the fireplace the focal point, if you can, to help keep communication in this room more open. At the same time, if you're generally alone while in the living room, it is okay to hang the TV over the fireplace as this allows for greater function.

Use Color Sparingly

If you like the idea of having color in your living room, only paint one or two walls instead of painting the entire room. You can also infuse color into the room with the pillows you place on your sofa, the floor rug you choose, or in your other décor.

Be Thoughtful With Your Decorations

Only put up decorations that make you feel happy and balanced. Everything else serves as clutter, potentially bringing you down.

Bedroom

If you share your home with a spouse or partner, a bedroom with good feng shui is thought to strengthen the bond between you and attract love. So, for the sake of better sleep and a boost to your relationship, consider these tips for improving the feng shui in your bedroom.

Bedroom Feng Shui — Bedding

Brooke Holm / Trunk Archive

Choose Relaxing Paint Colors

According to feng shui, warm colors reminiscent of skin tones—such as cream, peach, beige, yellow, coral, tan, and cocoa—are ideal on bedroom walls because they're thought to be soothing. Light blue, green, and lavender are cooler colors that are also considered restful and conducive to sleep.

Too many cool colors, such as grays or stark whites, are believed to interfere with relaxation. Aim for 50% warm skin tones and 50% cool colors for good balance.

Be Strategic With Bed Placement

The ideal bed placement allows you to see the bedroom door while you're in bed without being directly in front of or in line with it (in the commanding position). Having a view of the door without being too close gives a sense of safety and promotes relaxation and good sleep according to feng shui.

The head of the bed should be against a wall, but not under a window which could allow qi to flow outside and cause restless sleep. If there are two people sleeping in the bed, there should be equal space on both sides so each person can get into and out of bed easily. It's also best not to place a bed under a structural or decorative beam or ceiling fan.

If moving your bed isn't an option, feng shui practitioners sometimes recommend hanging a bamboo flute (a special feng shui device) from an overhead beam or fan to offset its negative effects.

The foot of the bed shouldn't point toward the door either. This is known as the "coffin" position and puts the bed in the main path of traffic. If this can't be avoided, a footboard, high bench, or table at the foot of the bed can act as a buffer as long as it doesn't block the view of the door.

Don't Store Anything Under the Bed

Depending on the size of your living space, you might want to store extra items anyplace they fit. Yet, according to feng shui, storing things under the bed is a bad idea because it keeps the air from flowing. If you really need the space, only store soft items there, such as extra blankets or pillows.

Hide Electronics and Workspaces

Televisions, computers, exercise gear, or a workspace in the bedroom are thought to distract from rest, symbolize wakefulness, and take up energy. If you have no choice, hide such items as best you can. Place the TV in an armoire or neatly cover it with a cloth, for example, or set up a screen to block your view of the exercise bike or desk when you are in bed.

Relocate Mirrors

According to feng shui, if you aren't sleeping well, a mirror in your bedroom could be the culprit. Mirrors are thought to bounce energy around the bedroom, which may result in restlessness and amplify worries.

It's especially important not to hang a mirror on the wall opposite your bed. Feng shui consultants say this can promote the intrusion of a third party into a couple's relationship and possibly encourage infidelity.

Double Up

In general, try to have two of everything you can. Couples should have two (ideally) identical nightstands, one on each side of the bed, for example. Whether it's the shape of your nightstand or the type of accessories you select, ovals and circles are better than anything with sharp corners or edges.

Be Artful About Artwork

Any images you hang on your bedroom walls should be inspiring, uplifting, or relaxing. One of the best places to hang this type of image is on the wall opposite your bed so that you see it first thing when you wake up and it's the last thing you see before you turn off the lights to go to sleep.

It's also best to avoid images in which a lake, waterfall, or river is the dominant theme. In other parts of the house, water symbolizes money. But in the bedroom, it may promote financial or relationship losses

Also, don't bring sad or upsetting images into your bedroom, or paintings or photographs that feature just one person, as this symbolizes solitude.

Home Office

If you work from home either full or part-time, you can also apply feng shui principles in your home office.

Feng Shui Home Office

Bauer Media

Place the Desk in the Commanding Position

In this room, it is your desk that should be placed in the commanding position. When you are seated at your desk, the door should be easily within your view, although you don't want to be directly in line with it.

Leave Space Around the Desk

If you have the room, leave enough space around your desk area to move around freely. This includes the area behind and to the sides of your chair. If anything is in your way, it could block your flow, making it harder to get your work done.

Get a Supportive Chair

This tip is especially important if you spend a lot of time at your desk. The chair you sit in should offer both support and comfort. This makes it easier to get through your workday. Choosing the right desk chair can also keep you from developing pain in your neck, shoulders, and back.

Purchase a Desk Blotter

A blotter is a pad that helps protect the top of the desk. It also serves as a good writing surface as you will likely notice that your pen and pencil move more freely across the paper when writing on a softer desktop.

From a feng shui standpoint, a colored desk blotter can help bring in more of the five elements. If you need more growth (wood), for instance, you may want a blue or green blotter to help support this, If you need more organization (metal), a white blotter may be a better choice.

A Word From Verywell

While some aren't convinced of the science behind feng shui, many people still believe that it plays a role in positive mental health. Being thoughtful about how you arrange and use your home may help support a better outlook and a more balanced life.

Pay attention to how each room in your home makes you feel. If a particular room doesn't provide a sense of balance and peace, consider whether a specific feng shui element is missing. Implement changes until you feel better in your surroundings.

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