Written by Mehran Charania, Director of Ready Steady Store

Mental health charity Mind now estimates that 1 in 4 people in the UK struggle with a mental health-related issue, each year, which comes as little surprise following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Coupled with the relentless surge in living costs, turbulent mortgage rates, and escalating energy bills – the pressure has been mounting and causing adverse effects on people’s mental wellbeing. According to The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s research, it found that 40% of people are worried their housing pressures will get worse this year. 

In the face of such mounting pressures, the need to prioritise mental wellbeing has never been more pressing. While jetting off to a tropical paradise or wellness retreat may feel like the only solution to escape the noise and clear our minds – there are cheaper and closer-to-home ways to improve our mental clarity, starting with optimising our living spaces: 

Sowing the seeds of wellbeing  

Incorporating greenery into our living spaces isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a powerful way to nurture our mental wellbeing.  

Whether it’s a few potted plants scattered around the house or a vibrant living wall, the presence of greenery holds immense potential to uplift our mood and productivity. This is affirmed by a recent study conducted by TheJoyOfPlants, which found over half of participants reported feeling more productive and 60% claimed to experience greater happiness when surrounded by greenery. Moreover, green environments have been found to alleviate negative emotions like anger, frustration, and anxiety, providing a natural antidote to the stressors of modern life.  

The implementation of greenery is particularly important for those working remotely, where research from the University of Exeter revealed enriching workspaces with plants led to a 15% increase in productivity, a 26% boost in cognition, and enhanced employee engagement.  

Whether it’s a fern on a desk or a trailing vine by a window, embracing greenery in our homes can be a simple yet transformative step towards nurturing our mental well-being. 

Serenity in simplicity  

Embracing simplicity in the home can be a transformative journey towards achieving inner peace and mental well-being.  

This pursuit of simplicity can be achieved by implementing various tactics in the home, from maintaining cleanliness and order to curating a minimalist aesthetic – there are many advantages to reducing noisy wall décor, ornaments and unneeded clutter.   

A recent poll conducted by Blinds Hut revealed that 82% of Brits found that clutter impacts their mood, and nearly one in five reported that it increases their stress levels. In addition, a study published in ‘Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,’ found that women who described their living spaces as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more likely to suffer from fatigue and feelings of depression than women who described their homes as restful and restorative. 

By assessing our belongings with introspective questions — Does this bring me joy? Is it necessary? Does this space evoke calm? — can serve as a guiding compass to optimising space and improving well-being.   

Clearing out unwanted items and clutter, through regular throw-outs, prioritising storage of items and donations to charity can create a harmonious living space and improved wellbeing. If looking for more long-term solutions, the utilisation of storage solutions like self storage facilities, can be a great option to reduce clutter without throwing out sentimental or ‘save for later’ items, while also optimising and freeing up vital space.  

By using solutions such as self storage, it allows us to ‘space plan’, to make the most of our living spaces strategically to ensure your space meets your needs. Whether that’s space for a yoga mat during an at-home workout, entertaining friends or simply creating more room; space planning can vastly improve our living space to ensure mental clarity.  

Symphonise the senses 

Enriching our living spaces with elements that stimulate our senses can serve as a powerful strategy for enhancing mental well-being and productivity.  

The use of different lighting and colours has a profound effect on influencing our mood and has even been used to treat some mental and physical conditions. Light therapy such as Blue light therapy, for instance, has been linked to improving symptoms of depression and is a particularly used practice for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Blue light exposure helps to regulate emotional responses in the brain by affecting the photoreceptors within the eye, which are sensitive to low-wavelength blue light. Studies theorise that this can help to modulate serotonin levels in the brain, regulate circadian rhythms and elevate mood.  

Likewise, exposure to blue spaces has been linked to similar benefits, with a study from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) finding that spending time in blue spaces lowers the risk of stress and anxiety.  

Scent is another aspect of creating relaxation and wellness within the home. Natural essences like lavender and chamomile have long been celebrated for their calming properties. In fact, a 2023 study on the Anxiety-Reducing Effects of Lavender Essential Oil Inhalation: A Systematic Review, reported significantly decreased anxiety with lavender oil inhalation.  

Similarly, music can be harnessed to foster mental well-being, as evidenced by the therapeutic effects of classical and instrumental music. Recent research published in Psychology of Music highlights the profound link between listening to classical compositions and improved mental health outcomes, including reduced levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Investing in aromatherapy oils or diffusers and LED smart lights or just enriching spaces with blue elements such as waterfall pictures and listening to classical music can create a harmony between our senses and mental wellbeing.  

The subtle solution 

While there is no quick fix to improve mental well-being, there are some simple steps to rejuvenate and improve well-being in the home, which can offer a subtle way to increase wellness without costing the earth.  

From aromatherapy and light therapy to decluttering and greenery –refreshing and optimising our living space can provide a tranquil setting that enables you to leave behind the external pressures of the world.  

About Ready Steady Store

Established in 2005, Ready Steady Store is one of the fastest growing self storage providers with cost effective storage units located in the Midlands, and South, North and East of England.