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Designed to defeat depression.

Have you ever felt down in the dumps? You are not alone. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that in 2017, an estimated 3.29 million people in the Philippines are living with depression.

As the condition is not yet widely accepted as a health problem in our country, many people experiencing this suffer quietly.

According to former Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial, the first step in combating depression is 'encouraging discussion between two persons or among people within a group, in a safe and trusting environment.'

Considering this, many of us look toward our homes as the safest place to be in to reveal and resolve our problems.

Unfortunately, our homes can sometimes be the source of depression, especially if we do not like its current state.

The good news, however, is that there are simple but effective ways to make our homes a happier place. While these tips do not guarantee a complete turnaround of our spirits, they can somewhat help us create a sanctuary where we can find comfort and eventual joy.

Bring in the light

Light is a free, natural resource that does wonders for the soul. Clinically, it is used to treat people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short (Williams). Introducing light in dark spaces can immediately brighten feelings of gloom. Sunshine also promotes a sense of well-being.

Go for light or sheer shades over your windows instead of heavy drapes. Besides the benefit of light, these materials also require less maintenance. If you have rooms without windows, introduce mirrors to create an illusion of expanded space. Install dimmable lights and lamps to create a more relaxing ambience in your bedroom.

Spread good smells

Generally speaking, floral scents are considered suitable in areas of rest.

Spicy scents stimulate energy while wood scents encourage people to unwind. These smells, are not the only ones that can help improve our mood.

Research done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) showed that many people react warmly to the aroma of toast. Food often brings a positive feeling to people, so the scent of freshly baked goods or newly cooked meals can instantly make us feel better.

When it comes to spreading scents at home, choose scents which appeal to you. You'll be surprised to know that the scents available in the market nowadays vary from the traditional to the quirky.

So feel free to spread either the whiff of lavender or chocolate at home. The important thing is that it makes you happy.

Care of plants

It has long been established that greenery is beneficial in an indoor space as it cleanses the air, softens angles and livens up a drab corner. And taking care of plants also provides one a sense of pride and accomplishment.

It encourages you to focus on simpler things and take a break from all things that are technological and stressful.

Flowers provide immediate color to a room, but succulents present their own charm. If you weren't born with a green thumb, stick with plants that require little maintenance. It's amazing how a small pot of a jade plant or an orchid arrangement can help you keep going.

Introduce a feature element

Give yourself a reason to smile every day.

A designer chair, a unique coffee table, a whimsical rug-anything that pleases you immediately upon glance is definitely worth investing in.

That being said, the item need not be a piece of furniture. If pets give you a better sense of self-worth, then by all means share your home with a dog, cat or any other animal you can handle. Decorate your home to suit your sources of happiness and ensure their longevity.

Clean and de-clutter

When it comes to fun activities, cleaning may not always be the first thing that you think of.

De-cluttering, however, is perhaps the best way you can gain a sense of control at home. The idea isn't focused on keeping your home in perfect shape every day. Rather, it's about eliminating sources of stress from your immediate view.

While in the long run, you cannot hide from staggering unpaid bills, keeping them at a designated place allows you to mentally prepare to face them. Likewise, cabinets and closets conceal items that may trigger your anxiety. Though you cannot really run from your problems, it helps to think that they can be tucked away at will.

Overall, there are no strict rules in designing against depression. While certain colors and elements can encourage vibrancy and warmth, the important thing to consider is your personal taste.

Though it might not adhere to certain design principles, a home that appeals to you will give you refuge and a sense of control. Other factors may contribute to your anxieties, but improving your living environment can help uplift your spirits.

Design is a powerful tool that can alter your home and make you happy.

(Sources:;;; Valeria Boltneva via

The author is a licensed architect who studied abroad and currently works for DSFN Architects. This article is not meant as a cure for depression but as a means to find happiness in the little things in life.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jun 2, 2018
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