How Our Surroundings Influence Mental Wellness
Over the last year or so, many of us have realized the importance of mental wellness. Since most have been spending more time close to home, we have come to understand the crucial role our surroundings play in encouraging tranquility of mind. Interestingly, research has shown that nature, awe, and spaces free of clutter greatly influences our mental health. With each we benefit in tangible — and sometimes surprising — ways.
Calm the Internal Chatter by Changing Your Environment
According to psychologist Ethan Kross, author of Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters, and How to Harness It, there are three ways to calm the chatter in our heads: shifting our perspective, opening up to others, and changing our environment.
Kross points out that the first two approaches work well when we are in a moment of distress. However, shifting our environment is something we can practice beforehand so that we are less inclined to brood in the first place.
We’re embedded in our physical spaces, and different features of those spaces activate psychological forces inside us, which affect how we think and feel,” he says. “If we make smart choices about how we relate to our surroundings, they can help us control our inner voice.
He recommends several methods on how to shift our environment for better mental health: surround ourselves with nature, actively cultivate awe, and clear the clutter from our living spaces.
The Power of Nature
There is no doubt that nature is powerful medicine for calming the mind and boosting our mood. It has been shown to buffer the stress we experience in life, reduce rumination, and improve our physical and mental health.
I personally find that the more time I spend in nature, the more I experience heightened clarity, energy, and joy. And research has shown these stress-reducing benefits can also be encouraged by listening to the birds or rain outside your window, looking at photographs of nature — even a houseplant will do the trick. You can read more about how nature supports physical and mental well-being here.
Seek Moments of Awe
Many times we experience a sense of awe while spending time in the grandeur of nature, but that isn’t the only way to evoke a feeling of vast transcendence. We also encourage awe when we slow down enough to notice life unfolding around us, listening to inspiring music or reading astonishing poetry. It is well worth the effort to cultivate a sense of awe considering it helps to reduce inflammation, soothes stress, enhances creativity, and promotes mental clarity.
It is easy to add more awe into our day-to-day lives. We can place striking nature photographs on our walls or connect deeply with a spiritual practice. Pausing throughout the day and observing the wonders that surround us, even if just for a few minutes, is enough to stir a feeling of appreciation and awe within us.
Clear the Clutter
If we find ourselves in a state of uncontrollable, spinning thoughts or deep brooding, one of the best practices we can adopt is to clear the clutter from our homes. By creating order and less visual stimuli in our surroundings, we help to calm the nervous system — and our minds. Kross believes that decluttering is comforting because we are establishing order in our lives, which makes it more predictable and easier to navigate. When we feel out of control, we are naturally wired to try and impose order on the world around us. Moreover, a decluttered space is a sure-fire way to soothe anxiety and promote mental clarity. Importantly, it also reduces scattered thinking, which is becoming increasingly common in our fast-paced, modern lives.
Mental Wellness Herbal Support
Medicinal herbs can also play an important role in cultivating mental wellness. My Anxiety and Stress Tincture — as well as my Brain Bundle — contain calming and adaptogenic herbs that help to soothe the stress response, calm inflammation, encourage clarity, and support overall brain health. Visit the Apothecary today to learn more!