Home may be where the heart is, but did you know that your home has a lot to do with your mental health as well? After all, your home is supposed to be your safe space, the haven you retreat to at the end of a hard day. But when your home doesn’t feel safe or inviting, when it doesn’t serve as a welcoming space for the people you love the most, then a house truly is no longer a home.
From the standard of living in your hometown to the quality of life in your neighborhood, even to the state of your own home, your environment can have a direct impact on your psychological well being. This article explains how and why your living environment so strongly affects your mental health, and will provide recommendations for creating a home that supports you and your family’s psychological wellness.
Cityscapes Versus Rolling Hillsides
When it comes to the connection between your living environment and your mental health, one of the most significant factors is not the home itself, per se. Rather, it’s about where your home is located.
Studies show, for instance, that people who live in urban areas are at significantly higher risk of developing a range of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. From high crime rates to the constant mental and sensory stimulation of the city, it can be difficult to find a place to relax, decompress, and enjoy some peace and quiet in the heart of the metropolis.
From that perspective, the countryside would seem to have a decided mental health advantage over urban living. After all, small-town life offers a slower day-to-day pace and lots of opportunities to enjoy the beauty, tranquility, and solitude of nature.
But, of course, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And the remoteness that can make rural living so attractive can easily become psychological harm, especially if it leads to isolation from friends and family. For seniors, this increased risk of isolation can be especially harmful, resulting in higher rates of suicide among seniors living in rural areas.
In addition, if you are encountering mental health challenges, it can be difficult to access consistent care in these areas. You might also fear stigmatization, especially since privacy can be a pretty difficult commodity to come by in small-town life if the other members of the community are tight-knit.
Another important consideration is the economic standard of living in your town. If you’re living in an economically depressed area, with high rates of poverty, your risk of mental illness will potentially be higher. This is especially true if you, too, are struggling financially.
Poverty is strongly linked to mental health disorders, especially depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is due not only to the chronic stress of financial worries, but also due to the lower quality of life, including the lack of amenities, lack of employment opportunities, and lack of quality schools, which are often, unfortunately, characteristic of low-income areas.
When it comes to your home environment and your mental health, your location is far from the only consideration that matters. In fact, your home itself plays a decided role in your mental health.
If your home is noisy, cluttered, and chaotic, it is not going to be the restful refuge you and your family deserve. That is why creating a living space that helps you clear your mind and replenish your spirit is so important. Getting rid of clutter and surrounding yourself with only the things you need or love can help you reduce stress and elevate your mood.
And since we’re all spending so much time at home these days, it’s also a great idea to ensure that your home is not only peaceful but also functional. Creating a dedicated office space can minimize anxiety when you’re working from home, while cultivating an outdoor space, such as a meditation garden, complete with a water feature, will give you a place to retreat if the pressure and hubbub of the house get to be a bit too much.
The factors underlying mental health challenges are often highly complex, with myriad factors shaping our emotional and psychological well-being. One of the more frequently overlooked influences in mental health is the impact of one’s living environment. The state of the house, and the degree to which it truly serves you and your family well, are strongly connected to overall mental health. Just as important, though, is the location of your home. Urban living can significantly increase your risk of anxiety and depression. However, rural living also has its risks, especially if you’re isolated from the people you love and cut off from mental health care. And that’s why it’s so important to turn a home into a haven.
Guest Author Bio
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, and politics. You can follow her work on twitter @HamiltonJori, and through her portfolio at Writer Jori Hamilton.