Illustration of a person in a room by Malini Basu
The pandemic has people redecorating their rooms to improve their mental health. (Illustrated by Malini Basu, Macalester College)

Change Your Room and Improve Your Mood for the Colder Months Ahead

It’s not just the place you sleep, especially now. Put more effort into making your space a special place you can unwind and enjoy, especially now that winter is up ahead.

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Illustration of a person in a room by Malini Basu

It’s not just the place you sleep, especially now. Put more effort into making your space a special place you can unwind and enjoy, especially now that winter is up ahead.

We’re spending more time in our bedrooms than ever before. Our rooms changed from the place we’d spend our free time into our classrooms, offices and libraries.

Your direct environment can drastically affect your mental health. It’s why seasonal affective disorder, more commonly known as seasonal depression, is so widespread. Once the seasons change, the sudden shift in environment decreases the level of sunlight someone gets and can cause a decline in serotonin and melatonin levels.

To mitigate those effects, and to make the coming months more enjoyable, it’s important to make your immediate surroundings a place you can find solace and happiness. It’s time you work on making your room as comfortable, cozy and convenient as possible.

Play with Colors

Color psychology is the study of how colors can affect your mood. Phrases such as “feeling blue” indicate a subconscious link between the color blue and feeling sadness. Many cultures around the world associate colors with different meanings and effects. And although the field of color psychology has relatively little research, studies do show that there are links between mood and color — keep that in mind when decorating your room.

One way to think about colors is to divide them up into warm and cool colors. Warm colors, such as reds, browns or oranges, make rooms feel smaller and more inviting. Red is associated with love, passion and anger. According to a study titled “The influence of color on student emotion, heart rate and performance in learning environments,” the color red can have varying physical effects such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate.

Cool tones are made up of colors such as blues, purples and greens. They can make environments soothing and relaxing. If your room is smaller, cool tones can also make it look larger. The color blue in particular is associated with feelings of calmness and can promote a stress-free environment.

When decorating your room, keep colors and their effects in mind. Make sure to surround yourself with colors that make you feel good. And when in doubt, remember that darker colors make rooms feel smaller, and lighter colors can make them feel bigger.

Let Nature In

To counter the effects of seasonal depression, incorporate more nature into your room. Cracking open a window or opening the blinds to let nature in is one of the simplest ways to do so. Sunlight is incredibly important, as it provides you with a natural source of energy and vitamin D. When you are spending more time at home than usual, you need to find ways to increase the amount of sunlight you get.

Having plants is another great way to bring more nature into your surroundings all year round. Research shows that plants increase mood, reduce stress and purify your air. Having a plant in your room means you don’t have to get out of bed to get “fresh air.” Do you not have any direct sunlight in your room? Worry not, because there are many plants that thrive in shade.

Another way to add nature into your room, even artificially, is to purchase a Himalayan salt lamp. These lamps are made by placing a light bulb inside large pieces of Himalayan salt. These lamps are natural ionizers and change the electrical charge of the surrounding air. They can improve air quality, increase serotonin levels and help aid sleep.

One more inexpensive way to provide similar effects is to use aromatherapy. Natural scents such as lavender and eucalyptus can do wonders for stress relief and can be purchased as candles or in their pure forms to use with diffusers.

Keep Your Space Clean

It’s a no-brainer that a mess-free atmosphere is a stress-free one. Keeping your room organized and clean can help save you time, help you sleep better and overall create a better environment. When life gets stressful, it’s definitely easy to fall into bad habits that make your room a mess. Not putting your clothes in your closet once can easily turn into a mountain of clothes you’ll have to rummage through in a week. The best way to keep your room clean is to build good habits.

One way to think about cleaning and organizing your room is to look at the act of cleaning as empathy with your future self. Instead of framing cleaning as a chore, you should look at it as a form of self-care. Even the physical act of cleaning itself has numerous mental health benefits. According to Yahoo News, a study published in the research journal Mindfulness found that “participants who mindfully washed up, i.e. they took time to try to take in the smell of the washing up liquid etc. reported a 27% reduction in nervousness, along with a 25% improvement in mental inspiration.”

Make It Yours

The last tip to make your room a more enjoyable place to be in is to personalize it! Your room is yours, first and foremost, and should reflect the things you love. Adding little accessories, such as fairy lights or LED lights to make your room more fun, can go a long way. One way to personalize your room is to have a vision board or wall. Many people put up inspiring images over their desks. Choosing quotes to put up as motivation or images that remind you of your goals and ideal self can create subconscious reminders for yourself. You can also add pictures of your friends and family to help lift your spirits.

Another way to personalize your room is to add a theme to it. If you love sports, get a sports-themed chair and pillows, or put up posters of your favorite team. If you love nature, reflect that in your surroundings. The bottom line is to make your room somewhere you want to be, filled with what you love.

Our rooms are one of the only spaces that are solely for us. Even if you don’t have an entire room to yourself, you can still make the part of your room that is solely yours as personal as possible. When you fill surroundings with things you enjoy, you are setting yourself up for success and happiness.

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