Improve Your Mood: How Your Home Can Cheer You Up

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You may not be able to control the grumps at your job, or all that traffic during your commute, but you absolutely can tweak your home so it's a mood-boosting machine. Make some strategic choices with your decor to help you bounce back after a rough day. We found five things to adjust.

1. Light — Natural light is an amazing antidote to the blues. Although there are many studies linking darkness and depression, you don't need science to tell you that walking into a dark room doesn't exactly lift your spirits. Don't wallow in darkness; throw open the drapes and soak up some rays. Or if it's already dark out, light a calming candle and chill.

2. Color — You know that certain colors just make you feel alive: think reds and yellows. There's no need to overdo it — just a few touches of cheerful color will help to give you an unconscious lift when you walk in the door. Bonus: brights tend to encourage social behavior so using them in a public space like the living room is a plus.

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3. Scent — Thanks to a part of your brain called the amygdala, scent is strongly linked to your memories and emotions, but it can also affect the current emotions in your brain. Choose smells like lavender and jasmine for calming and soothing, lemon and orange for energizing, or basil and mint to help improve your mood.

→ See more olfactory ideas at Life Hacks.

4. Pets/Plants — Ahhh, the healing power of a pet. When you walk in the door after a rough day, a wagging tail is guaranteed to lift your spirits. Can't have a pet? A plant is also a great idea. Nurturing something and watching it thrive is a human necessity that will always make us feel good.

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5. Soft Geometry — This is a new one on us, but we all know that Oprah is never wrong. O magazine reports that choosing decor with curves may actually make you feel more content, thanks, once again, to that good ole' amygdala. Designer Johnny Grey puts it like this: "The reason has to do with your peripheral vision...if you were to walk down a dark, narrow tunnel lined with sharp rocks, you wouldn't be able to think about anything except avoiding getting hurt. If the key pieces and places are curved, that makes the body relax." Makes sense to us.

(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux; Arthur Garcia-Clemente)