Stress Management How to Use Your Senses to Liven Up Your Home This Spring By Julia Childs Heyl, MSW Julia Childs Heyl, MSW Julia Childs Heyl is a clinical social worker who focuses on mental health disparities, the healing of generational trauma, and depth psychotherapy. Learn about our editorial process Published on April 03, 2023 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change. Learn about our Medical Review Board Share Tweet Email As the seasons change, we're ushering in the renewed energy of spring by decluttering our homes and our minds after the lull of winter. In this spotlight, we'll explore the connection that spring cleaning has on our mental health, how we can apply the same sentiment to our relationships, and tips for staying motivated to clean regularly—even if it's the last thing we might feel like doing at times. In This Spotlight: The Connection Between Decluttering, Cleaning, and Mental Health The Mental Health Benefits of Making Your Bed It's Time to Spring Clean Our Relationships 5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Brain 7 Tips for Staying Motivated to Clean Your House When You Are Depressed The Neurodivergent Guide to Cleaning Up Let’s set the scene: You’ve had a taxing day at work and are eager to get home. You’ve generally felt unorganized and untethered in your day-to-day, thanks to a unique combination of relationship woes, financial stressors, and new work responsibilities. When you walk in the door, ready to relax, you’re disheartened by the scene: an untended pile of dirty laundry, stark white walls, and no real cozy corner to curl up and read. That lack of grounding and organization you’ve been feeling? It certainly didn’t get any better when you walked through the door. Our home can color our mental health regardless of our age, with a study finding children living in a home with significant disarray (think poor lighting, clutter, and uncleanliness) experience a higher level of inflammation and overall immune system dysregulation. Another study found that even the particular layout of a home can impact our mental health, with homes that are designed to encourage social interactions leading to positive mental health outcomes. Whether you’re a creative with a penchant for home spaces or a design novice who has never quite understood how to curate an organized and aesthetically pleasing living quarter, we will guide you through the art of using your senses to liven up your home. The Negative Impact of Clutter on Mental Health Home Space, Heart Space Our senses—sight, touch, sound, even scent—can all impact how we feel. “Fact is, when our homes work better, we feel better,” shares interior designer, licensed marriage and family therapist, and author of "Home Therapy" Anita Yokota. She emphasizes how using our five senses can be a gateway to exploring how our homes can relax and rejuvenate us. A way to do this is to consider the function of your home. If crafting is important for you, Yokota encourages creating a space with a comfy chair to begin creating. She also notes that if you find that movement is a big mental health booster for you, carving out a space where you can blast your music and dance is another avenue to using your home space as a heart-centered space. Is Your Home Giving You a Hint? We can also use our homes as indicators of when things are astray. If you’re struggling to perform daily responsibilities, like hopping in the shower or tending to that looming pile of laundry, then it may be a sign that your mental health is suffering. When our mental health is declining, healthy habits can give us the boost we need. Fact is, when our homes work better, we feel better. — ANITA YOKOTA, INTERIOR DESIGNER AND THERAPIST Yokota refers to this as the “home loop,” explaining that our home can support healthy habits. She suggests stocking up on items that help you stick to positive behaviors. I can attest to this sentiment. When stressed, I often fall behind on essential household tasks. After seeing a friend of mine declare ad nauseam how a particular formulation of natural cleaning spray brought her joy due to its fresh scent, organic ingredients, and pretty label, I became curious if the same could hold true for me. While I was doubtful any bottle of cleaning spray could combat one of my most tried and true maladaptive coping tools, I bought one begrudgingly. Turns out, this habit of cleanliness feels much less painless when I’m enjoying the natural aromas of citrus essential oils. Plus, I always feel much better when all is said and done. How to Make Your Home More Peaceful Heal Your Mind Through Your Home According to Yokota, bright colors make for bright moods. “Corals, lemon yellows, and blues with plenty of white in them are the first places to turn when wanting to bring color into a room that always lifts the mood,” she shares. Have a personality that leans towards a go-big-or-go-home ethos? Me too. My mind immediately went to stressful visions of trying to figure out how to paint my living room. Turns out, that isn’t necessary. “Don’t feel like you have to paint. Just a pop of these colors here and there gets the job done,” assures Yokota. These words should be a relief for renters, those on a budget, and the DIY-adverse alike. Another way to boost your mental health is to up your nature exposure. Consider bringing in plants or fresh-cut flowers to mimic elements of natural green space. Studies show that exposure to natural elements can lead to improved cognitive function, mental health, and brain activity. Not all of us have the privilege of having easy access to green spaces, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring green space to our homes. Crafting Your Vision You’ve likely visited a place that you love and often reminisce about. Perhaps it was a chic hotel on vacation or a visit to your grandmother’s house. You can use these places as inspiration for what you’d like your space to feel like. Corals, lemon yellows, and blues with plenty of white in them are the first places to turn when wanting to bring color into a room that always lifts the mood. — ANITA YOKOTA Interior designer Courtney Madison encourages folks to create a folder filled with images that remind them of their favorite places to visit. She invites individuals to consider what about each of these spaces makes them feel good, whether that is the furniture, the color, or even the energy of the room. “Once you have a better understanding about what makes you feel happy [in those spaces], try to adapt those to your space,” she explains. She continues by expressing simple solves like adding pillows to your sofa or moving your sofa closer to the window. “Remember, this is your space. Don’t worry about trends; just think about what brings you joy,” she asserts. How Creativity Positively Impacts Your Health Build It On A Budget Finances can be a major barrier in revamping our homes. Ease the pressure and keep in mind that it is an ongoing process. “I’m a big believer that good homes aren’t created overnight… The best ones develop over time,” explains Madison. Part of what can build a heart-centered home is crafting small details that genuinely bring you joy, many of which can take time. Once you have a better understanding about what makes you feel happy [in those spaces], try to adapt those to your space. — COURTNEY MADISON, INTERIOR DESIGNER Perhaps it is your favorite serving bowl from your parent’s house that you have on loan from your mom or a photo from your wedding day in a vintage frame from a thrift store. Consider where you can add sentimental details that jog your memory back to fond moments with those you love. Yokota backs up this notion. “Even strategically placing photography that reminds us of a special place or time can give us a much-needed daily dopamine hit,” she states Another tip Madison offers is finding unique pieces that can pull double duty. “I found an old army trunk and used it as my coffee table for years,” she explained, sharing that it served as a conversation piece that provided much-needed extra storage in her small space. 7 Natural Ways to Increase Your Dopamine Levels Daily Delights As you begin to build your home to have more intention, consider how you can engage in your space mindfully. Yokota shares that she has a home therapy intention tray that she incorporates within her morning routine. “Humans are visual creatures and the intention tray helps take a hope that we hold for ourselves inside and places it out into the physical world,” she explains. For example, her tray holds a candle, journal, pretty pen, and mantra book, all of which represent her current intention of doing away with limiting beliefs. Consider what you’re hoping to shift within your mindset and take an inventory of what objects represent that to you. Humans are visual creatures, and the intention tray helps take a hope that we hold for ourselves inside and places it out into the physical world. — ANITA YOKOTA Personally? I am becoming more intentional with creating a separation between work and home life, despite having a home psychotherapy office. On a small tray placed on my desk, I have set out a stick of palo santo, a journal, and a deck of affirmation cards. As the woodsy smoke fills the air and I pull an affirmation card to set an intention for the evening, my mind gently strays from my clinical work. As soon as I open my office door and prepare to enter back into my personal world, I can trust my intention, closing the door on my various thoughts and feelings from the work day. As I walk through my hallway, my home’s lack of natural light is drowned out by the delight I feel as I pass by images that remind me of the places I’ve been, the places I’ll go, and the many people I’ll meet along the way. The methods of home design are magic, and it turns out the most potent medicine can be the space where we lay our heads. 4 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Schmeer KK, Yoon AJ. Home sweet home? Home physical environment and inflammation in children. Soc Sci Res. 2016;60:236-248. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2016.04.001 Riva A, Rebecchi A, Capolongo S, Gola M. Can homes affect well-being? A scoping review among housing conditions, indoor environmental quality, and mental health outcomes. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(23):15975. doi:10.3390/ijerph192315975 National Institute of Mental Health. Caring for Your Mental Health. Jimenez MP, DeVille NV, Elliott EG, et al. Associations between nature exposure and health: a review of the evidence. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(9):4790. doi:10.3390/ijerph18094790 By Julia Childs Heyl, MSW Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? 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