Denver, CO

Space Changes Denverites Can Make to Boost Mood, Productivity, and Immune System

Theaaronnichols

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People of Denver! My fellow Coloradoans.

We’re often told to be tough and hustle. To push through exhaustion and produce. But how often do we think about creating environments for ourselves that will make creation easier? It's never been easier to design happiness into your home, Denver.

Have you ever thought about the physical design of your home as a way to boost happiness and activity? You spend most of your time there, and the intention that you put into designing it can make or break your mood. Is your home office a bright, energizing place where you just want to create? Or a sunless cave where you just want to hunch over and watch TV? Do you cover your view of the Denver skyline by closing your blinds?

One of the reasons we’ve seen an explosion of autoimmune and mental disorders in the last few decades is our quest for constant comfort and convenience. We live in perpetual heated/air-conditioned physical comfort, adding to our mental misery. We’ve locked ourselves off from the natural world, with dire consequences. So silly! The natural world is the greatest thing about Colorado!

Instead of jogging to the gym, we drive, to run on a treadmill pointed straight at a wall of depressing news-blasting TVs. We spin our thermostats instead of opening our windows. We close our blinds to stop the glare on the TV, limiting natural light to can better see that stupid show we shouldn’t be watching in the first place.

It’s like we believe that we’ve conquered nature and that our physical environment doesn’t affect us.

Turns out, of course, that it does. The physical design of personal space that we spend large amounts of time in affects us deeply. So why not put some thought into it?

Here are five very simple design changes you can use to make your Denver home a happier, more productive space.

Match up/design your lighting

Most people I know (myself included until a month ago) have never heard of “Color Temperature.” ‘A lightbulb is a lightbulb!’ I used to think. Not true. Lightbulbs are made on a spectrum, and that spectrum affects your mood.

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Color Temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin. “Warmer” color temperatures are lower on the scale and make you feel relaxed. Candlelight is the warmest, measuring in at about 2000 degrees Kelvin. These temperatures cause your brain to release melatonin, which helps you wind down.

“Cooler” color temperatures, on the other hand, energize you. These “blue lights” cause your mind to release serotonin, which winds you up. This is why looking at your phone before bed is like punching your ability to sleep in the face.

One of the most important things to keep in mind as you light your home is color temperature consistency. If your room is lit across a range of temperatures, it can be confusing for your brain. It’s important to make sure that each room is lit within the same range, so that your brain knows what each room is for. Your bedroom should be warmly lit (for relaxation), while a home office should be lit at a much cooler temperature (for productivity).

Prolighting.com has a great guide to how to light your house room by room here.

Invite in bright colors (don’t be afraid to play)

Which of these rooms would you rather spend time in?

Room 1:

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Room 2:

They both have a grey sofa, open window, and white(ish) walls. But that’s where the similarity ends. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, I would run from the first room to get to the second room.

It would take me a few more pages of ranting to express the depth of my hatred for beige and pastel colors, so I’ll summarize. Why are we so obsessed with neutral colors? Why do we want our suburbs to look like endless rows of identical boring uniformity? Why do we associate growing up with boring colors? It baffles me.

Neutral colors in your environment mean neutral happiness. Bright colors lift moods. Have you ever been sad in a sunshine yellow room? It is much harder to pull off than in a beige room.

If you live in a boring space and you need to spruce it up, start with a few bright objects in your favorite colors! I made a Salvador Dali collage to hang over my desk, and a picture of a supernova hangs on the wall to my right.

Bright colors reflect more light back to you, which brings me to:

Let in as much natural light as possible

Let’s play the room game again! Would you prefer to hang out with your friends in this room:

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Or this room:

It baffles and amazes me how many people I know insist on living their lives with their blinds drawn.

When I went to college, most people in my apartment complex lived with their blinds perpetually down, with their lights on in their homes during the day. What the hell?! It’s ridiculous! I see this a lot when I’m walking around suburban neighborhoods as well.

I’ve asked friends about this baffling phenomenon when I see that they’re shutting their blinds all the time, and they usually say something like “I don’t want people to see what I’m doing.” What?! What sort of nonsense are you doing in your living room at 4 in the afternoon? Let the light in! Your body needs it, and you’ll sleep and perform better.

Blocking sunlight from entering your home is asking for depression and poor immune functioning.

Now that you’ve opened up those blinds, why not take it a step further? Go ahead and:

Open up your windows to allow airflow

Here’s a terrifying fact: between building materials, paints, cleaning products, and a whole host of other household chemicals, indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. Do you know that “stuffiness” and “funk” that collects in unaired rooms? There’s a simple solution.

Opening a window exposes you to the natural world, rather than the unnatural mess that collects in your home when you leave it sealed off for too long.

Sleeping with an open window is even better, since it can reduce carbon dioxide levels and boost the quality of your sleep, thereby boosting your immune system.

For God’s sake, opening a window can increase knowledge retention and the ability to learn. I just keep finding more benefits as I write this article! Open up those windows, ya cave trolls!

Now that we’ve improved our spaces, there’s one last color-and-brain-boosting touch to add:

PLANTS

I’d like you to meet my personal bedroom/office plants, Micus The Ficus, and a bamboo plant that I have not named yet:

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It’s hotly debated whether plants actually improve air quality. The original 1986 NASA study that said they do has been contested, with unclear results. But you don’t need them to improve air quality, do you? You have open windows now!

Having plants is linked to a host of other benefits. Interaction with/caring for houseplants reduces stress. Classrooms with plants improve the concentration of elementary school students. There’s such a thing as “horticultural therapy” for depression and anxiety. The mere presence of houseplants speeds recovery from injury. Plants in a workplace increase job satisfaction and productivity.

Get yourself a green little buddy to go with your newly opened windows and colorful accessories. I promise you won’t regret it.

Happy designing, Denver!

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As a former English teacher, I've seen the power that journalism can have. Our world is divided, and news is one of the primary tools that's been used to do it. My primary focus in writing for Newsbreak will be to write about positive things that are happening in the world, trying to use news as a force for good.

Denver, CO
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