How to Furnish a Home Office for Better Mental Health

Furnishing a home office may seem straightforward enough, but if you struggle with depression or other mental health issues, it may be worth considering how to create a more supportive working environment—especially if you work from home most of the time.

Many people may not realize that where and how they work can have a significant impact on their health and happiness. Making the investment to improve one’s at-home working conditions can increase productivity and quality of life, by reducing stress and improving mood, focus, and overall wellness.

5 Office Furnishings That Support Mental Health

What furnishings should a home office contain if the goal is better mental health? This question has never been more relevant than now. The data shows that record numbers of people are working from home and that more people than ever are dealing with mental health issues. If that describes you, the following home office furnishings may be worth considering as additional supports to therapy and medication:

  1. Ergonomic Office Desk and Chair Research has found that posture—and whether you sit upright or slump—affects your stress response. In fact, simply sitting up straight has some real mental health benefits. Among them: better self-esteem, a more positive mood, and less focus on oneself. 
  • Ergonomic desks and chairs are designed to improve posture (and therefore can be beneficial for mental health). They also can address issues like back pain and, depending on the type of desk or chair, physical inactivity, both of which can be associated with poorer mental health. 
  1. Light Therapy Lamp – Studies have found that light therapy lamps and boxes can relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and other conditions like sleep disorders. These devices work by increasing serotonin activity (for improved mood) and melatonin production (for better sleep); and a better night’s sleep is associated with multiple mental and physical health benefits. 
  • Some research has concluded that light therapy can be as effective as antidepressants for depression—and, that the two interventions, when used in combination, are especially effective for relief of depressive symptoms. 
  1. Essential Oil Diffuser – Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils reportedly activate the brain’s message center, the hypothalamus. It then sends out messages that trigger changes in the body affecting blood pressure, digestion, and even the immune system.
  • Some scents are better known for their calming and relaxing effects. Lavender, for example, is often used to reduce stress and anxiety and promote sleep. Citrusy scents like lemon can help to boost mood.
  • Fragrances often evoke feelings, however subtle. That said, one person’s emotional response to rosemary, sandalwood, or another scent may differ from the next person’s—so doing some research into aromatherapy and sampling some different aromas may be worthwhile.
  1. An Indoor Plant – The mental health benefits of being in the outdoors and in nature are well-established. What is less well-known is that indoor plants can be good for mental health, too. A 2007 study found that a particular bacterium in plant soil triggers the release of serotonin, which can lift the mood and reduce anxiety. A 2019 article in Psychology Today listed still more mental health benefits from being around plants and interacting with them. Better productivity and focus. Better self-esteem. Fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The list goes on. 
  2. A Photo or Painting That Creates Positive Emotions – Whether it inspires you to work, produces a sense of calm and belonging, or reminds you of the people who love you and matter most to you, a photo or picture can be a powerful way to re-center on the purpose and meaning that ground what you do and why.

Just these five furnishings alone can change the atmosphere of a home office for the better. The positive difference for mental health may be well-worth the investment.