A space is never neutral; it will always influence the individual
Our subconscious, mood and well-being are shaped by the structure, contents, and arrangement of our surrounding environment. And, since we spend about 90% of that time indoors,1 if our spaces are not properly aligned, we won’t feel or perform our best. The good thing is that even the smallest of changes can create positive effects that ripple through our lives.
In any given space there are multiple paths to well-being. In Feng Shui design, we use a core set of elements, which operate together to create the energy of every room, office or environment. These can be adjusted to alter the flow—to make it feel better. If a space is unbalanced or cluttered, the energy will dwindle over time. To create an environment that is more comfortable for you and your guests, staff or customers, the basic natural elements should be represented and balanced appropriately. Every object and its placement can provide a unique benefit to our health and wellness, improving our sense of relaxation and ability to focus and be productive.
A few practical ways to create well-being in your space
Take a breath and have a look around the room. How does it make you feel? If you are in a place where you spend an extended period of time each day, chances are your surroundings are affecting your mood and in turn your mindset. The relationship between you and your surrounding environment is reciprocal. So, the question you may want to ask is, how can you better affect your surroundings to enhance your well-being?
A quick check of the Four S’s can give you a great indicator of where to begin using your space as a supportive tool for your life.
The Four S’s: Sight, Sound, Smell and Sensation.
- Sight: What you see plays a large part in what you get. Do you like what you see? The objects in your domain influence you by triggering certain thought patterns. The goal is to trigger positive patterns.
Clutter restricts movement, affects your ability to process information and lowers the air quality. So, clearing out your clutter is always a great place to start. While you are at it, let in some natural light. If you don’t have access to natural light at your office, play with different forms and heights of full spectrum and ambient lighting. You can also incorporate plants to bring the outside in. You will be amazed at the results.
- Sound: What is it that you hear: street noise, music, the hum of electronics, or the refreshing sound of a fountain? You can influence your body’s function by leveraging the power of sound. Particular sounds evoke pre-conditioned emotions, which can be positive or negative. High levels of unwanted or background noise have a negative impact on both concentration and relaxation, while a low level of ambient sound has been shown to increase creativity.2
Now for the fun. Is there is a sound you could bring in or do without that would better suit your intentions for your time spent in the space? Binaural beats, bird songs, or a water feature? Try playing around with the sound in your space and pay attention to the effects on yourself and others.
- Smell: 75% of all emotions generated every day are due to smell, and because of this, we are 100X more likely to remember something we smell over something we see, hear or touch.3 Scent is a great indicator of the quality of the air and ventilation in a space. Does it smell fresh? Poor ventilation can lead to a loss of productivity and satisfaction, whereas, clean air and complementary scents can do wonders for your concentration and mood.
Can you open a window or invest in an air purifier? If you are looking for a quick pick me up, try a diffuser. Aromatherapy has a range of options with different benefits, from bacteria-busting to stress relief. Not every scent is for everybody, but everybody has a scent they connect with.
- Sensation: That intangible feeling you get when a space just feels right…or wrong! Your space is like a recipe and the contents of your space are the ingredients. Yes, there are individual parts, but the sum of everything and their proportions is what you “taste.” It’s the same with spaces – we experience them holistically. How do you feel in the space? Refreshed, peaceful, dull or tired? Do your spirits rise or fall when you enter the room?
Imagine walking into a space that not only feels like you but speaks to you. Calms you. Energizes you. Motivates you. Incorporate whatever stimuli support your desired function and sensation. This includes beautiful colors, scents, music, art, flowers, shapes and objects that work together and align with your vision.
1 EPA, Report on the Environment, Indoor Air Quality
2 Journal of Consumer Research, Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition, Hehta, Zhu, Cheema, 2012
3 Mood Media, Scent Research