When we’re surrounded by clutter, chaos and noise, it’s understandable to feel stressed and irritable all day. After all, it’s hard to find moments for self-awareness and self-reflection when the environment is not conducive to relaxation and Zen. Similarly, it’s difficult to cope with problems when all you see around are people rushing, vehicles moving at neck-breaking speed, and the whirl of commerce going about non-stop. Ah, if only you can tell the world “slow down!” things will feel lighter.

It’s important that we understand how our environment affects our emotional health. There are many stressors around us, and if we’re not careful, we may be unnecessarily exposing ourselves to risk factors for mental health issues. It’s also advisable to include management of one’s surroundings as part of our agenda in taking care of our family’s emotional wellbeing.

Below are just some tips on how to create an environment conducive to better mental health:

Colors and mood. There is a science to the impact of color on a person’s mood. Different colors emit different light frequencies, and different light frequencies affect people’s moods and emotions differently. If you want to de-stress, best expose yourself to lots of blue; blues are known to help decrease a person’s blood pressure. Yellows are known to inspire happiness, so make sure there are spattering’s of yellow in your home. And careful with those reds! Reds are known to trigger anger and aggression — as well as hypertension!

Green space matters. We need contact with nature. Whether seeing life all around us gives us a feeling of relaxation, or nature just provides the chemicals needed to zero out stress, exposure to plants, trees and animals have been found to be helpful for well-being. So take regular walks around the park, have potted plants by your window or desk, or get your ill child an affectionate dog to play with. Mother Nature provides accessible and free ways to counter depression — so you should take advantage of them!

Privacy matters. A Queensland University study has revealed that open office lay-outs are not conducive to workers’ focus and productivity. We need cubicles for privacy, so that we don’t get distracted by what the other person is doing beside, behind or in front of us. The feeling of insecurity that comes with the feelings that you’re constantly watched is also a source of stress. So demand privacy while you’re working. You’re not being uppity — you’re just taking care of your emotional health.

Lastly, be aware of changes in weather conditions. Climate change is upon us, and many researchers are discovering that today’s rapidly changing weather conditions impact mental health. For instance, heat waves are happening more often, longer and stronger than they used to, and their onset is associated with a spike in relapse among those with pre-existing mental health issues. Stress and anxiety is also likely with threat of disastrous weather conditions, especially for those leaving near vulnerable areas. Understanding how climate change can cause emotional issues is the first step in preventing the start or the aggravation of mental health concerns.

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