Environmental Psychology: How to Thrive Where You Live
Let’s skip to the chase: When you create a living space that works for you, you'll be healthier, happier, accomplish more goals, and make more joyful memories. It’s that simple. (And it’s why I love this work.)
Yes, the concept is simple, but the practice (the HOW) is complicated. This is where environmental psychology comes in. Environmental psychology examines the interrelationship between environments and human behavior.
WIthout drowning in scholarly research papers, here are the essential tips you can take advantage of in order to transform your living spaces into places where you NOT ONLY want to spend time, but also into a place that empowers you to live a life you actually want to lead.
The Prereqs: Start by asking yourself “How do I want to feel in this room?” & "What space would move the needle the most?"
Not, “What style should I mimic in this room, what do I want others to think about me when they see this room, what items should I buy more of for this room, how often should this room be cleaned, etc.” No. Start first with “how do I want to feel?” And get super specific in your answer. For the purposes of environmental psychology, it's helpful to categorize rooms into “energizing” spaces or “calming” spaces. Which spaces do you want to be energizing, and which spaces to you want to be calming in your home?
Similarly, and to prevent from feeling overwhelmed, ask (and really think on this) what space would move the needle most for you. Then start taking baby steps in that space. Everyone is different here. For some, this might mean making their kitchen a happier, more joyful, or more organized place, so that they can eat healthier, more delicious food. For others, this might mean thinking about how they can make their bedroom a place where they can retreat and chill after a long week of work.
OK. So now that we know what all this environmental psychology stuff is all about, and we know where to start, and what questions to ask, let’s dive in with some mini challenges:
Challenge #1: Add some nature.
The health benefits of adding nature (flowers, plants, trees, flowing fountains of water) to your living or working space are huge. Benefits include boosting productivity, strengthening cognitive functioning, strengthened memory, reducing stress, and more. If you have allergies or hate keeping plants alive, don’t fret. Research shows that even photos, paintings, and drawings of nature still have powerful health benefits as well.
Challenge #2: Display something personal and meaningful in a neglected space.
According to environmental psychology, your emotional well-being instantly improves, when you have some key, personal, meaningful items in your home. These items could be anything from a piece of art you picked up from your last big trip, your grandmother’s pottery, you're late uncle’s old framed passport, or even just a simple photo that makes you laugh.
Challenge #3: Think about how you experience a room through your senses and then add one sensory element.
Add one sensory element that helps you feel the way you want to feel in this space. Don’t forget to first decide where you want this space to fall on the energizing or calming spectrum first. For example, a simple, beautiful candle, a soft, silky plush rug, a bright vibrant painting with lively patterns, etc. The super-scientific approach behind this: If you want to feel good in a space, start by adding a couple things in your space that literally….make you feel ….good! Connecting to a space through your five senses is a big deal people!
Challenge #4: Declutter.
Enough said. Clutter sucks. It increases your stress, can cause respiratory issues, decreases your productivity, and more. Chose one small space (even if it’s just one drawer) to declutter!
Now it’s time to actually do the hard work and improve your space.
Remember that education without implementation is a waste of your time. Try one of the mini challenges over the next month and share here what you did in the comments below. Cheers to turning messy spaces into meaningful places!