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Your Environment Is Affecting Your Mental Health

April 30, 2024

By Coalition Coordinator, Erendira Zazueta


It is no surprise that where you live affects your state of mind. There might be some different stressors on people, and they may get affected in a different way. While some people may be stressed out by a cluttered home, others stress about a messy bathroom, or bright lights, too many things on the wall, too little things on the wall, how the kitchen is set, or even if they will have a house within the next month or not. One thing to remember is that we are all not the same so we don’t all agree on what a home should look like. While we can’t always change the place or area we live in, we can arrange our living space to feel cozy to us.



The most important point to remember is that if your living area is cluttered or messy, your brain will not be able to relax because it thinks that it still must keep working. So, it is best to keep an organized living environment but if that is difficult for you, try to clean one area a day. Instead of trying to tackle the entire space in one day, you can always section it off by doing one part per day in a week and by the end of the week your living space can be less cluttered. Create a schedule for what day you will clean what. An example could be:


Monday – Main bathroom

Tuesday- Dishes and dining room area

Wednesday – Laundry room or guest bathroom

Thursday – Bedroom

Friday – Kitchen

Saturday – Balcony/Porch or backyard

Sunday – Laundry Day and living room


Not all homes have the same set up and not everybody has the same number of rooms, but the schedule is an example of how you could possibly break it down.


Not only does your living space affect you but also the outside. One main component is noise, the level of noise outside your home. The noise could be a busy road nearby, if there’s a school down the street, if you live in front of a park, if you’re in a noisy apartment complex, if your neighbors fight constantly, those are all stressors. You may not think much of it but the noises you hear around could subconsciously affecting how you relax. If you are able to financially and physically, invest in some noise-proofing windows, curtains, some ear plugs for when you need to sleep, or window additions to the sills.


Crime levels in the area can be another stressor.  If you do not feel safe in the area you are living in, you won’t be able to relax. While it can be difficult to control the crime rate in your neighborhood there are a few things you can do to help yourself feel safe. Invest in some extra locks in your home or extra alarms. There are some alarms that you can stick to your door and the door frame which when turned on if the door is opened there will be a loud alarm. You don’t need any tools or drilling; you just add the sticky sides to the door and the frame and make sure the alarm has batteries and you’re set. You will sleep better at night knowing your doors are alarmed. If you live in apartments and must park in a lot, always carry any kind of personal defense item like pepper spray, keys, a taser, or a loud whistle to feel more safe walking to your door. This can also apply to you if you live in a home.





Another factor that could be causing you some stress is the food availability in your area. Looking at zip codes and demographics, low-income areas have less healthy restaurants, fast food, and grocery options. If you live in a low-income area, you are less likely to be around grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts which do offer more healthy food options compared to a grocery store like Frys or Food City. While there could possibly be a healthy option, only a 20-minute car ride away, not everyone has a car of their own and they have to rely on public transportation so it could be too far for them to travel that far to get groceries. If you are looking for a new place to live and you are capable, do your research and look at the grocery store options around the area if this is something that concerns you. You should not only look at grocery store options but also fast-food options.



Being in nature has many benefits and not everyone can have these benefits while living in the city. This can be another environmental stressor for some. Being surrounded by high buildings, constant traffic, all the pollution, and lack of trees and plants around can pose a threat to your mental health. This specific problem can be changed by the government but until they do that, if you are in this situation and you are able to, at least twice a month go out into nature whether it’s on a hike, a walk in a big green park with trees, or if you live in Arizona take a 2 hour drive up north to Sedona, flagstaff, or Prescott and breath in some fresh air for a few hours. This can not only help you mentally but also physically.


If the air you are breathing in your home is also concerning to you, consider investing in a good air filter. This can help get rid of toxins in the air in your home. It can also positively improve your mental health. Another concern could be mold in your living space. Mold can negatively affect not only your physical health but also your mental health so be sure to inspect your home every now and then to see if there’s any mold and if there is, get that situated with your landlord if you’re renting, or find a company to check it out if you’re a homeowner. Adding plants to your home can also help increase fresh air! Do your research before buying a plant to make sure you will be able to take care of it.




Finding the aesthetic, you like for your living area can help you feel more cozy at home. Sometimes a minimalist look might look aesthetically pleasing but you might thrive more in a colorful space with items around the area rather than bare space. If you don’t feel certain about the way you feel in your living space, try a new aesthetic! Decorating your living space does not have to cost you a fortune. Try out thrift shops, yard sales, or cheap retail stores.


If you are ever stressed out in your living space and wonder why it doesn’t feel like “home”, just know that it could be something that can be changed! Don’t give up and assume your living space will never be cozy. Take some time in your schedule to address what it is that is stressing you out about your living space and find a solution for the problem.


Thank you for checking out this week’s blog! Come back next time for a new blog!



Sources

2.      National Library of Medicine (2018). Mental Health and Environmental Exposures: An Editorial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6210156/

3.      UN Environment Programme (2019). Caring for the environment helps to care for your mental health. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/caring-environment-helps-care-your-mental-health


Image Sources

1.      Adobe Stock (2024). A very messy and dirty living room that needs the housework done (generative AI). https://stock.adobe.com/search?k=messy+living+room&asset_id=571353021

3.      The New York Times (2011). A City Tries to Slim Down. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/health/14obese.html

4.      Better Homes and Gardens (2023). How to Arrange Plants In Your Living Room to Add Natural Style. https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/projects/decorating-with-houseplants/

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