With searches for ‘how to overcome seasonal depression’ seeing a 75% increase in the past 12 months, it is clear people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as days get shorter and nights get colder.
SAD is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. It occurs around the same time every year, usually during winter. The two main symptoms of this are low mood and a lack of interest in everyday activities.
Experts claim SAD is likely to be caused by reduced sunlight exposure, which has a domino effect on other factors such as melatonin production, serotonin levels, and disruption of the circadian rhythm. However, there are ways of designing our homes that can ease some of the symptoms.
Carpet and flooring specialist Tapi have teamed up with psychotherapist Lucy Johnson3 to reveal how interior décor can help ease SAD symptoms.
1. Embrace natural light
Natural light is a powerful way of combating SAD. A large wall mirror hung opposite a window can bounce the light around the room and increase the daylight that is available, which can keep symptoms at bay.
Lucy says: “Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus that controls sleep, appetite and mood, and when some people don’t get enough, this impacts how it functions.
As winter draws in, a lack of sunlight can cause your brain to produce too much of the sleep hormone melatonin and less serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical that affects mood which in turn impacts our circadian rhythms – the body’s internal clock which regulates our sleeping and eating patterns.”
2. Create a window seat
Another way to reduce SAD symptoms is sitting next to the window. It can be as simple as putting a padded cushion on a windowsill or pushing a chair up against the window. This will remind you to spend some time in natural light during shorter days, which will positively impact your mood.
If you can, it may be worth buying a lightbox specifically designed to combat SAD. Lucy says: “There is some evidence that phototherapy, the use of a lightbox for 20-30 minutes a day, can trick the brain into thinking there is more daylight available.
Even a grey winter’s day is 10,000 lux (the measure of light intensity) which is about the same as a lightbox. So, spending 20-30 mins a day sitting in natural light can have a protective effect.”
3. Bring nature inside
We know that having plants in your home is good for our overall health as they absorb indoor pollutants, with a NASA study identifying 50 different species of houseplants that can improve the air quality in your home. But there’s also evidence that indoor plants as part of your décor can make us feel calmer and happier by suppressing activity in our autonomic nervous system.
According to Lucy, “There’s increasing evidence to show that biophilic design, a form of interior design inspired by human’s love of nature, has powerful effects on our mental and physical wellbeing, helping us calm our nervous system.”
Investing in home accessories inspired by this design, such as a plant wall, can have a positive effect on your mood.
4. Get inspiration from nature’s patterns
Lucy adds, “Nature is composed of self-repeating patterns of simple structures that form a visually complex image, just like the crystal formations of a snowflake or the veins of a leaf.
Humans are innately drawn to these patterns and there’s evidence to suggest that using them in interior design can reduce stress. So, a sculpted wooden side table, forest wallpaper, or a banana leaf serving dish would be great additions in your household.”
5. Be clever with your colour choices
We know that certain colours have certain effects on our heart rate and nervous system. Several studies have shown that the colour green can reduce the human heart rate and contribute to creative thinking.
Lucy says, “It’s clear colour can have a huge impact on our mood. We often associate nature with positive experiences, so we can benefit from this in our interior colour choices. Blue and cyan can have a relaxing effect on our mood, greens remind us of nature and calm us, whilst warm yellow is associated with sunshine.”
6. Use aromatherapy
Lucy says, “Candles and essential oil diffusers can create a warm ambience in your home as well as smelling wonderful.”
Lavender scented candles or essential oils are great for relaxation and sleep, sandalwood helps relieve anxiety, while lemon is the perfect mood lifter.
Johanna Constantinou, Brand and Communications Director at Tapi says: “As the short days and dark nights draw in, it can be hard to boost your mood and wellbeing. Thankfully however, there are some interior changes that can be made to improve your living space that will ease off your symptoms and improve your wellbeing.”
We offer a wide range of flooring options, so if you’re looking for warmer options as the winter approaches, browse through our range of cosy carpets.”