How the Art in your Home or Office Can Affect Your Mental Health

Is there something about your home or office that just feels a little… off? Maybe you feel just fine when you wake up in the morning, but start to get grumpy as soon as you arrive at work. Or, maybe your workday flows pretty well, but as soon as you get home you begin feeling anxious and tired.

While these emotions can obviously stem from many things, if you’ve thought about it, and the problem isn’t situational or triggered by another issue you’ve been having at home or at the office, it may be time to reevaluate the decor.

The art that we surround ourselves with can have a significant impact on our mental well-being. Research on this matter is particularly focused when it comes to the impact of art on hospital patients. A 2006 report by the Department of Health Working Group of Arts and Health in the UK found that the arts:

“Offer major opportunities in the delivery of better health, wellbeing and improved experience for patients, service users and staff alike.”

A 2010 UK review published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine explored the issue further, and reviewed the types of art that seemed most beneficial. The study authors wrote:

“The fact that patients frequently express a preference for landscape and nature scenes is consistent with this observation and with evolutionary psychological theories which predict positive emotional responses to flourishing natural environments… patients who are ill or stressed about their health may not always be comforted by abstract art, preferring the positive distraction and state of calm created by the blues and greens of landscape and nature scenes instead.”

It’s not always about landscapes though – it’s about what speaks to you. If the art in your surroundings doesn’t jive with you, it’s time to change it if you can.

In your home

Grab a pen and paper, and walk around each room of your home, noting each piece of art, including paintings, drawings, sculptures and decorative pieces. Write down a few words on how each piece makes you feel. It may also help to enter a room, and write how the entire room makes you feel, as well. This will let you know if you need to make major changes, or just a few switch-ups.

If you are trying to make a room feel more relaxing, such as a bedroom, go for soft, natural tones, and maybe a landscape or two, if they are pleasing to you. To liven up a space, go for brighter tones, and art that makes you feel invigorated or excited. For a meditation area, include a few pieces that bring you a sense of zen.

If you come across a piece of art, and it means very little to you, you probably don’t’ need it. If the piece belongs to a family member, maybe they could move it to rooms that they frequent more often. Or, the whole family could discuss how to make the art in each room agreeable to everyone. You may have to compromise, but the result may put everyone in a better mood.

At the office

wall artIt may be more difficult to change the decor in your office, especially if you share office space or your company has certain pieces displayed. If one really bothers you, it may help to talk to your boss about moving it around – explain that it is making it difficult for you to concentrate, and ask if something can be done.

Accent the areas that you are free to decorate, for example, your desk, with a few pieces of art that make you feel happy, relaxed and inspired. Don’t overdo it – clutter is highly counterproductive as it causes stress.

You may be surprised at how something as simple as the art around you can drag down – or elevate – your mental state. Art can be a window into the beauty of the world, and the beauty in ourselves, so choose yours wisely, and make it meaningful.

-The Alternative Daily


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