Your Built Environment Matters

Look at the chair you’re sitting in. Is it comfortable? Is it too big or too small? Now look at the lighting in the room you’re in. Is it too bright? Not bright enough? What about the windows? Is there any natural light in the room you’re in? Do you feel safe in the space you’re in? Do you feel relaxed, stressed, or tired?


It’s amazing how the space you’re in can affect you both physically and mentally. Research shows that you’re built environment can affect your eating habits, sleeping habits, exercise habits, and even your mental health. 


There’s a reason why the coffee shop you go to to wind down after work is so cozy and comforting. There’s a reason why you’re drawn to certain places over others, both psychologically and physically.


Either way, you can choosethe environment you’re in, and especially in your own home, you can change the environment you’re in to best fit your needs. 


Here are some practical ways you can help create a safe, comfortable, productive, healthy space for yourself.


1.  Adopt some plant friends.

Adding plants to your room can brighten up the area and act as air purifiers. Plants increase the oxygen levels in the room which helps you to breathe easier and relax. Studies even show that adding plants to hospital rooms speeds the recovery rates of patients, and decreases their blood pressure, fatigue, and anxiety. Plus, succulents are really popular right now, perfect for small spaces, and are really easy to find both online and at local grocery stores. (Not to mention they’re adorable).

2.  Let in as much sunlight as possible.

We all need a healthy dosage of Vitamin D daily to stay top-notch. Yet, it’s speculated that Vitamin D insufficiency affects 50% of the population worldwide. Open your curtains or shades and avoid blocking windows with large furniture pieces.

3.  Choosing the right lighting

Make sure you have at least a limited amount of control over the lighting in your space. Light dimmers and lamps are extremely helpful to set the most comfortable setting for your mood, whether that be relaxation, productivity, or sleep.

4.  Freedom within your environment.

Do you feel free to get up and move around in your space, or to come and go to and from your space? Feeling safe and free from containment can help you stay relaxed and in control. You can help this by making sure you have plenty of open, free space in your room or different areas to sit or repose if you need to get up and move. A rug can help a space to feel larger, and an open door or window can help let in outside air and space.

5.  Wall accents

Decorate your wall with accents that you feel represents your identity. Maybe a poster of a favorite band, or a painting that you loved from a downtown art walk. Maybe string some of your favorite photos of you and your friends on the wall. Looking at these photos can be a warm reminder of the people in your life that care about you. Seeing the things you care about and the things that make you passionate in your space can help to reassure you and positively motivate you.

6.  Less blue light 

As someone who works on their laptop constantly, I know what a pain (literally) technology headaches can be. Staring at iPhones, TV screens, and computers exposes us to blue light which is not great for our health (both physically and mentally). You can help this by limiting your time on your devices. I like to keep work on my devices and down time with books or other physical activities like exercise or creating (music, drawing, writing, stretching, calling a friend, cooking a meal, filling out my planner, etc.).

If you’re like me, and most of your work is on your devices, I highly recommend investing in a good pair of computer glasses that block blue light. They definitely help if you’re looking at a screen for hours.

7.  Your personal environment – your body

 The most important environment you need to take care of is your personal one - your body. You can take action for self-care in simple ways that don’t have to break the bank. This might be wearing that new pair of cozy socks that you bought this week or lighting a candle that smells like the woods. Tons of people benefit from essential oils and air diffusers. You can find some really affordable ones online.

Ultimately, these changes can be temporary one-time changes, but self-care is a daily re-commitment to ensuring you’re living your best, healthiest life. When you live a healthy life, you live a happy life. Make sure you do at least one small thing a day to care for yourself and your environment.

Remember: simple things can make the biggest difference.