Do you ever get those new-year-same-you blues? I do, or at least did at the start of this year. I started my year off with a series of disappointments—mostly small and one major. Never a great way to kick off the year, but perhaps I’ve gotten most of my letdowns for 2023 out of the way in advance.

I felt like I was having the “Monday scaries,” every day and was dreading coming into my office. You could find me lingering for a chat with Denise, hiding by the whiteboard, or fixing yet another pot of coffee in the break room.

Space has a strong impact on mentality. According to a 2009 Scientific American article, natural views could encourage focus, while natural light helps keep circadian rhythms on track. This information leaves me feeling extra grateful for the office windows. I may not have a view, but at least we get good sunlight. Curved objects may be more soothing than angular ones—information that at last gives me a justification for my preference for round lamps over square lamps. They’re just more soothing; science says so.

My own office space has had a much stronger influence on my mood than I expected.

I suppose that’s why all those home makeover shows exist. Every year it seems like 10 more home makeover shows have spawned.

My workspace was beginning to feel like a small, dark pigeonhole, packed with old newspapers and me, hidden behind a pair of monitors like some kind of nocturnal news-seeking creature. So, I took some online advice to rearrange the furniture, bought a few fake plants (the real ones keep dying on me) and was shocked by the impact on my mood. I also added a few images of nature. If you can’t have a view of nature, why not buy one from a local artist?

Now I feel excited to come into the office, get the coffee brewing and settle in to write. I imagine the excitement will fade, but hopefully it’s enough energy to get me past those new-year-same-you-blues.

I suppose all those interior designers and architects and reality home makeover TV show hosts could have told me that rearranging a physical space might free up some mental space, but I wouldn’t have believed them until I did it for myself. I guess I’m stubborn that way.

I swore I wouldn’t make any resolutions this year, but here I am, resolving to renew all my spaces at home too.

*If you’d like to read the Scientific American article I reference (it’s a fun read and available free online), it’s “How Room Designs Affect Your Work and Mood” by Emily Anthes.