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My Experience Using Design for Mental Wellness




When I was young my mother was always moving the furniture around and it felt like she repainted every few months. I never really understood what her strategy was or even if she had one. Growing up I thought maybe it was because she wanted the carpet to wear evenly or maybe she just liked to control things? Maybe it was a good workout?  Maybe she really liked how it shifted the energy in the room, so her chakras were more in line…that is if she knew what chakras were? Or maybe she just got bored, and it was her way of keeping us guessing.


We moved around quite a bit before we started high school, 11 times to be exact. We became experts at purging old toys and clothes because we were not able to take them with us. Changing environments felt natural by that point so coming home to the couch on the opposite side of the room and all the pictures changed out to fit a new décor was normal for us. Setting resentments and childhood traumas aside, love you Mom, I must have learned something about changing my environment to help my mood or improve the energy.


Just like my mother, cringe, I rearrange my living room at least once a season. I like the way the sun hits the couch in the fall and early spring, and I love how light and open it feels when my curtains have room to blow in a summer breeze. I recently moved some things around after a reiki session because I felt like the energy was blocked. The room felt stale and unremarkable, kind of like how January felt. As I logged into work the day after the change, I felt light and motivated with a fresh perspective. I quietly thanked my mother for teaching me this perspective.


Even a simple rearrangement of furniture or changing out a pillow cover can open up a different view to help you change a mood or unblock motivation. These small changes are all considered experiential design. Quite literally

“Experiential design is a multi-disciplinary design approach that prioritizes human-centric environments supportive of positive experiences and enhancing users’ and visitors’ well-being.” -Bridgewater Studio

Even if this approach is geared toward art galleries and public spaces, think about how it feels when you walk into a hotel or coffee shop or restaurant, it is still very relatable to your personal space. Have you ever gone to a friend’s home and felt at peace or that you wish your place could feel like this? It could very well be related to the experiential design of the space even if your friend just likes the couch on that wall. So, my mother really should have been an interior decorator, she definitely has a way to create a space that evokes an experience.

 

After I rearranged my living room, I decided that my bedroom needed a little energy boost as well, you know that clean sheet Sunday feeling – I wish I had that every night! I changed out my duvet from a cozy fall winter orange to a light and airy ivory. When the sun hits my room around 5pm it sends a glow that hugs the tippy top of the vaulted ceiling. Every morning when I wake up I feel like I have a clean slate to make that day my own. And I need all the help I can get in the morning.


When I originally decorated my bedroom, I wanted it to feel like a safe place where anything was possible and full of opportunity. I love the way a swanky hotel room feels – like you are on an adventure and there is no budget. I invested in nicer sheets and fresh fluffy pillows. If you know me at all you know I love pillows and when you’re living your single girl life you get to use them all. Along with changing out my bedding I thought it might be time for a mid-winter edit and when I say edit, I mean massive purge. I went through all my clothes, shoes and bags, every item that felt “ick” I removed, every item I thought “why I do own this” or “I will never wear these again” went into the pile. I started feeling lighter after weeks of feeling emotionally trapped. I started to feel a lightness surrounding me. My space was starting to serve me and the energy I needed. 


You see, this year could be the year everything changes and I believe that I have been subconsciously overwhelmed with fear and doubt and excitement about what is possibly the biggest change I have ever purposely made. So, when I started cleaning and rearranging and changing my linens and purging my closets it empowered me to take control over something I wasn’t sure how to handle.

Even if this is my choice, it is hard to find a place to start. I joked about my childhood traumas, and I don’t ever want to downplay any trauma, but some things do stick with you good, bad, and ugly. One of my chores growing up was to iron my father’s work shirts and boy were they wrinkly. Some days I hated that chore. But now when I am super stressed, I have an uncontrollable urge to iron my pillowcases so that I can see them go from wrinkled and out of control to crisp and fresh and smooth. I promise I am not neurotic. When we have so much going on it is a natural feeling to want to control something and if, like my mother, it is moving furniture to gain a little clarity then so be it. Live your life girl and move some stuff around, go through your closet of treasures and see if that picture you bought years ago could have a new life on the wall above the couch. Maybe browse for a couple of new pillow covers and bring in some love to your February boudoir. Any change, small or large, plays a big part in how our energy flows and how we move through our lives.




 

Think about how it feels when you have fresh sheets on your bed, or when you vacuum perfect lines in the plush carpet or hey you put your laundry away after it being in a basket for week then on your bed for a day then back in the basket for another week to finally making its way to its rightful home in your closet. Now think about how it feels when you had to move that laundry twice before putting it away, feelings of stress and procrastination and maybe a little live your life girl I’ll do what I want. You see it every morning and think yeah yeah I will do that today and then life happens but then when you finally get around to the task and it feels glorious to see your clothes friends hanging together nice and cozy in the closet and you don’t have to step around the basket for another week. That feeling is what happens when they design hotels and restaurants or place art on specific walls in a specific order. Experiential design is supposed to give you that feeling, a rush of I want to be here in this space. Safe and light and happy. You have the power to create that space for yourself. You don’t need years of design experience to make a few changes to your rooms. Be like my mom and make your space a place that you love and let those who visit it want to come back again. See you soon mom.

 

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