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Does dopamine decor really make you happier?

A viral social media trend suggests that decorating one's home in vibrant colours boosts mental well-being

The dopamine decor trend focuses on the idea of feeling happy by creating spaces filled with the things one loves.
The dopamine decor trend focuses on the idea of feeling happy by creating spaces filled with the things one loves. (File photo/Unsplash)

The birthplace of trends, TikTok, has brought a new one into our lives: dopamine decor. The new social media trend is all about turning your living space into a pick-me-up mood board. The idea is to uplift one's mood and feel ‘happy’ based on design and decor.

Dopamine is known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone and a contributing factor to well-being. It acts as a neurotransmitter and is released when the brain is expecting a reward. When any activity is linked with pleasure or reward, waiting for it can release dopamine, according to Healthline. Everything from eating addictive junk food to doing a fun activity can raise dopamine levels. 

Also read: Should you jump onto the dopamine fasting wagon?

The dopamine decor trend interprets this via decor, recommending that you fill your home with all things that make one feel joy, such as a splash of vibrant colour. It’s the opposite of minimalist decor: you get to go all out in order to cheer yourself up with all the things you love.

Dopamine decor is part of the maximalism 'more-is-more’ concept. Bold, playful tones are said to encourage people to express more, and the idea is to let the inner child take over, and focus on joy when decorating.

However, the question remains: does it really impact mental well-being? Mumbai-based psychotherapist Rinkle Jain is unsure about it. “Dopamine has more to do with feeling good, which acts as motivation. Novelty can make people feel more motivated to go about their daily activities. When we subscribe to a new trend, the new idea itself can give a dopamine rush. However, it can’t really be said that dopamine, in this context, is directly linked to joy but definitely, it’s push or motivation toward a good mood,” she tells Lounge.

There has been research about how living spaces can affect mental well-being. Environmental psychology considers the ways in which things within the home house, from the decor to the amount of sunlight entering it, can affect one’s emotional state. For instance, working in a cluttered, busy room can make one feel overwhelmed, whereas keeping it airy, with some plants, can increase the sense of relaxation.

Dopamine decor takes this thought further and links it to creating joy through surroundings. However, Jain points out that the search for dopamine seems to be constant today, from watching reels to vlogging, a bunch of different things are linked to dopamine; sometimes it’s not healthy. “Happiness is usually seen as a big feeling, an immense sense of positivity and joy. But it doesn’t have to be that. It’s often a feeling of pleasure and even, calmness. In the world of quick fixes, how we perceive some things has undergone big changes. Similarly, how we see dopamine and what it is is often eclipsed by what we want to see it as,” says Jain. 

Also read: Why leading a healthy life is a walk in the park


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