Have you ever visited a restaurant where you felt like you could spend hours lingering over a meal or drink, chatting away with friends or soaking in the environment? Or maybe you’ve spent a night in a really nice hotel, where everything from the lighting to the window shades felt welcoming and refreshing? Although you might not be able to explain it, some places are simply a joy to be in, and they have a significant impact on how you feel.
On the other hand, you’ve probably also found yourself in spaces where you didn’t feel as welcome. Consider a fast food restaurant, for instance: it may be well designed, but there’s no denying that everything from the lights to the music is engineered to get you back outside and on your way. Houses and businesses that are dingy, dimly-lit, or run-down are even more extreme examples. In environments like this, chances are you’ve felt uneasy, and maybe even a little sick.
This is a simple way to illustrate how health and home can be directly related. The environment you spend the most time in — your home — can either make you feel better or worse, depending on how it’s designed, decorated, and maintained. It’s not just about looking pretty: the quality of your home can affect nearly every aspect of your life and health, including your mood. Everything, from your neighborhood to the lightbulbs you use to your residential plumbing services, has an impact on your level of health.
In this article, we’re going to discuss some ways that your health and home are connected, so that you get a big-picture overview of how the quality of your home determines the quality of your emotional and physical health. Next, we’ll share some tips for improving both your health and home, by making your house more welcoming, safe, and secure.
To learn everything you need to know about the connection between health and home, keep reading.
How Health and Home Are Connected
Healthy homes promote both good physical health and good mental health. In fact, having excellent health depends on having a home that’s safe and free of physical hazards. On the other hand, poor quality and inadequate housing often contributes to significant health concerns, from chronic diseases to injuries. This is especially harmful to children as they’re developing, as kids are uniquely sensitive to their environment.
Conditions that negatively affect health and home include poor indoor air quality, lead paint used on walls or trim, water damage from leaks or poor ventilation, and inadequate heating or cooling.
Having lead paint in your home can cause lead poisoning, especially in children, which irreversibly affects brain and nervous system development, causing lower intelligence and reading disabilities. Lead paint was often used in construction before people realized how dangerous it could be, so you’re more likely to find lead paint in your home if you live in an older house.
Living in substandard housing can lead directly to health problems for you and your family. Significant issues often include roof and plumbing leaks, poor ventilation, dirty carpets, and pest infestation. Water leaks can cause mold and mildew to grow, and this problem is made worse in areas with poor ventilation. Dirty carpets and linens can result in more allergens in the air, causing allergies to act up and diminishing the health of the air you breathe. A wheat allergy doctor can help you navigate the challenges associated with certain food allergies, but simple allergens in your home can pack an allergic punch of their own.
Finally, having a pest infestation, whether rodents or insects, can fill a house with disease-causing germs, and even cause structural damage to the home.
Your heating and air conditioning system can contribute to your health and home as well. In the winter months with inadequate heating, cold indoor conditions are associated with poorer health, such as an increased risk of heart disease. Meanwhile extreme low or high temperatures is associated with an increased mortality rate, especially for particularly vulnerable people like the elderly. Your air conditioning contractor can literally help improve your health by keeping your HVAC system in good repair.
When it comes to healthy families, having a house that’s too small can be a problem as well. Residential crowding — having too many people in one home — is linked to both physical and mental health problems. These include tuberculosis and respiratory infections, as well as psychological distress, for both adults and children. In a world where 350 million people are affected by depression in some form, mental health isn’t something you can afford to ignore.
The quality of your home isn’t the only thing that should concern you. Besides the connection between health and home, there’s a direct connection between health and neighborhood, too. Over the years, social, physical, and economic conditions in certain neighborhoods have been increasingly shown to impact both short-term and long-term health and longevity.
A healthy neighborhood can be characterized by things like providing safe places for children to play and adults to exercise. Neighborhoods should be free from significant crime, pollution, and violence. And there should be easy access to grocery stores with healthy foods and fresh produce. It’s also important for communities to provide safe and healthy employment opportunities and transportation. Without any of these, even the most well-maintained home can’t escape the effects of the unhealthy neighborhood that it’s in.
Housing affordability also plays into having a healthy home. A family should be able to afford a home with less than 30% of its total income. Otherwise, they might be forced to cut corners on things like healthy groceries, prescription medications, adequate heating and cooling, cleanliness, and time spent bonding with one another.
Unfortunately, the most affordable homes tend to be the worst for people’s health, both because of the quality of the home itself and because of the neighborhood it’s found in. This results in lower-income families commonly finding themselves in too-small, substandard housing and unsafe neighborhoods.
If you find yourself in a position like this, the best thing you can do for your family is to find ways to increase your income. You might be able to find a better-paying job that requires your credentials, or you might qualify for certain state benefits. If you’re in need of medical care beyond what Medicare offers, you should be able to find a Medigap insurance plan that fits your needs and your budget. You should also consider looking for healthier, safer homes nearby that fall within your budget. Don’t just assume you won’t find anything: you never know for sure until you check.
If your neighborhood and financial condition aren’t directly contributing to health and wellness problems for your family, then there are lots of other strategies you can try to make your home healthier. We’ll be discussing some of those in the rest of this article.
How to Make Your Home Healthier
Many people spend a lot of time thinking about their homes. Usually, they’re thinking about basic maintenance, repairs that might be needed, the interior and exterior design, and their decor. As you’ve probably experienced, these things demand a lot of the average person’s attention, especially for homeowners. But for this list, we want to talk about those elements that specifically contribute to your sense of health and wellbeing.
Organize and Clear Out Clutter
It’s not hard to see how crumbling buildings, dirty streets, and local violence can make an entire neighborhood bad for your mental health. But if your house is a disorganized mess full of clutter, you’re almost bringing this same sort of chaos right into your home.
The average American has been found to own roughly 300,000 individual items that they keep inside their homes. Meanwhile around one in 10 Americans have to rent storage compartments to store everything they can’t fit inside their homes. So as you can see, clutter is a bit of an issue for many people.
This clutter and mess aren’t exactly harmless: it’s a key source of stress, which directly lessens your quality of life and contributes to all sorts of health conditions. Whether you ever pick up on it or not, trying to navigate and account for so many things is mentally exhausting, especially when they’re out of place and crowding up the floors and tables.
Fortunately, unlike unhealthy neighborhoods, clutter is something you can manage with enough effort. You may not be able to control whether there’s a family medical center nearby or not, but you can control anything inside your home, and that should start with your possessions.
Start small, such as by opening and sorting the mail that’s been collecting on your counter. Then think of a way to avoid letting mail pile up like that in the future, such as by developing the habit of going through it as soon as you get home from work. Or focus on the laundry that’s been piling up: sort out the clothes you like to wear and the ones you no longer need, and take those to a Goodwill or consignment shop. Get all of the clothes you have left clean, and put them away in a way that’s orderly and easy to work with. Then create a weekly schedule for yourself to make sure you keep your clothes picked up and take care of your laundry more efficiently from now on.
These are very simple suggestions, but simply doing these two things alone could dramatically improve your life. And don’t stop at the mail and laundry: apply this way of thinking to everything in your life that tends to get pilled up and out of control.
Reassess Your Decor and Repaint
When it comes to the colors that surround us every day, there’s significant evidence that suggests they affect our mood, stress levels, and behavior. While this is true everywhere, the most significant effects you’ll probably notice will be in your home.
To fully optimize your home for your emotional wellbeing, it’s important that you choose paint colors strategically. This is especially true in rooms where you spend a lot of time, such as the kitchen and bedroom. By using specific colors in different rooms, you can engineer various spaces to promote feelings of calm, invigoration, and productivity.
There are lots of color psychology guides online that give you some ideas for how different colors make you feel. If your home needs additional shelving or more storage space to help you declutter, you can hit two birds with one stone with bathroom or kitchen remodeling, adding in useful features and then painting uplifting, enjoyable colors.
Introduce More Light
You’ve probably noticed that being in a well-lit area tends to make you feel more alert and cheerful than being in a dimly-lit space. Besides its potential for boosting your mood, having plenty of light makes it easier to see what you’re doing and find what you’re looking for. Stumbling around in inadequate lighting is exhausting because of the additional effort required to see things and get work done. It can also cause eye strain and discomfort.
If your house is poorly lit most of the time, simply introducing more light would go a long way towards making everything feel more calm and cheerful. If you can, you should keep the blinds or curtains drawn during the day, or at least in the morning and evening, when there’s plenty of light but less heat. You should also make sure the lighting is adequate for moving and working at night since you probably still have things to do after the sun goes down. If you don’t have many light fixtures in your house, you can always buy a few lamps.
For best results, you should use LED lightbulbs in your home as well. Fluorescent bulbs use more electricity, and they also produce a blue light that constantly flickers, which is bad for your eyes and energy levels and can even cause migraine headaches and trouble sleeping.
Bring Opportunities for Relaxation Into Your Home
Many of the ways health and home are connected involve features that allow you to relax and enjoy life more. If you have some money to spend on renovations, you should upgrade your home to be more enjoyable and relaxing. For example, a company that specializes in custom pools and hot tubs could help you reimagine your backyard as a tropical paradise, which you could escape to after long days at work.
Even if you have only a small budget to work with, you still have options for making your home better for your health and happiness. You might consider bringing some indoor plants inside, as people often find that they feel better when connected to nature, even if it’s in a pot indoors. Buying a small indoor water fountain can be an extremely calming way to bring some nature inside.
As you can see, there are many ways that your health and home influence one another. Fortunately, there’s also a lot you can do to improve the health of your home, resulting in a healthier life for you and your family. From avoiding mold to installing hot tub spas, these are some of the best tips for improving your health and home at the same time.