People sitting at a table in an office reacting to the atmosphere and ambiance to work better, smarter, and happier.

How Does Atmosphere and Ambiance Affect Your Mood

What do vague terms like “atmosphere” and “ambiance” have to do with your mood, outlook, and perspective? How do your surroundings ultimately affect you?

While studies have shown that, among other things, color, weather, and music affect our moods, some of us are clearly more affected than others. Oftentimes, we aren’t even aware that these things are effecting us. According to an article published in Nature on the effect of conscious and unconscious emotions, information being processed by our subconscious “poses an intriguing question of whether subconscious exposure to irrelevant emotional information (e.g. the surrounding social atmosphere) affects the way we learn.”

Whether it’s learning or simply existing, atmosphere and ambiance effect our moods, and therefore, our state of being.

Look at your immediate surroundings. What do you see? What do you smell? How do you feel about your environment? If you’re at home, what do your surroundings say about who you are, what’s important to you, what you love, and how you care for yourself? However, if you aren’t happy with what you see, here are four quick things you can do about it.

1. Let in Natural Light

Natural light pouring into a workspace that improves the atmosphere and ambiance for more productive work.

Aside from the extra vitamin-D, natural light can create a calming, comforting, and beautiful atmosphere in your workspace. Artificial lighting from fluorescent bulbs and lamps just doesn’t have the same affect. You don’t want to feel like you’re working in a doctor’s office. So open the shades, or work near a window if possible.

2. Clean your Space

A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. A messy office or workspace pulls your attention away from the task at hand, and can make you feel hopeless or overwhelmed. Not only do you have all this work to do, but you don’t even have the time to tidy up. Make that time for yourself, and your mood will improve.

3. Personalize your Work Station

Have you ever heard the phrase, “look good, feel good?” The same thought process applies to your work station. If you like the way your space is laid out, and have added your own personal touch, your mood, and ultimately your work, will improve. Personalization can be as simple as adding some knickknacks, or painting a wall if you work from home.

4. Add Plants and Air Fresheners

Plants riddle an office and improve the atmosphere and ambiance.

Smell is a big part of atmosphere and ambiance. Freshly cut grass, fallen leaves, rainfall, all of these things transport you to another time and place which can calm you, or affect your mood in other ways. Even retailers will pump pleasing scents into their stores to improve the mood of their customers, making them want to spend more money. The same rule applies here.

Observe your Surroundings

As you walk through your day, look around and feel the ambiance around you and notice how it affects your thoughts and feelings. The busyness of traffic, the verdant lushness of a nearby park. Experiment by making changes to your atmosphere, and see if this makes any impact on your mood. If the answer is yes, then the above tips may improve your mood at and about work. Test the waters before you dive in. But, the most important part of all of this is making the time to try. If you don’t value your own mood or wellbeing enough to change things, they won’t improve. Self care is essential here.

Myself, I tend to find atmosphere pretty important to my general well being. I enjoy a lot of color and light; I love plants, and clean organization. But, like many people, when my life is very busy, I have a tendency to cut out some of the things that are most nourishing. Still, a couple of times a week I walk through Golden Gate Park and this practice melts some of my tension away. Something about the smell of the soil and plants, the deep peace that resonates from the quiet sounds of forest life, the earth under my feet. Suddenly I can breathe deeply again. The ambiance of this great fertile place seems to cleanse my soul.

Consider what atmosphere and ambiance can do to improve your mindset and your work. You may just find that, all along, this was the change you needed. For more articles like this one, and more tips to grow your career, check out our blog.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to learn more about  how atmosphere and ambiance affect your mood. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and the #1 career coaches in Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

3 replies
  1. Julie Macecevic says:

    Absolutely! I am especially sensitive to clutter. I cleaned my office this week and spent hours reducing the piles on my desk and organizing important papers into hanging files. It was liberating and now when I walk into my office, I feel a sense of openness and freedom. It completely changed the feel of the room and my sense of obligation to each item in each pile. Like Colleen, I surround myself with plants. I’d like to pay more attention to smells and light sources.

  2. Justin says:

    What is this called? Because I am definitely sensitive when it comes to something…the ocean or deep water and a bunch of blue make me feel lonely and sad…for some strange reason…and the way the weather it makes me feel a certain way, it could ruin my whole day.

    • ignitepotential says:

      I’m not sure there is a name for it. I suspect there are many different reasons this can happen. For one thing, when it comes to nature, we are animals and are affected by the “feel” of certain places like the ocean. It’s clear that as animals we respond well to things that seem harmonious. A well-balanced meal, glass of wine, or music will put us at ease because we are able to “take in” that sense of harmony. When we see a stunning piece of art or the natural art of a beautiful landscape…a sense of tranquility can come over us…as if the symmetry we are viewing resonates inside of us. And the same seems to occur when things are less than pleasant or out of balance, like walking through a dirty, run-down part of town. Then of course, there are also memories stored in our unconscious that can bring about emotions when we are in certain places.

      I think what’s important is to notice when atmosphere affects us and then, when we can, make choices from what we’ve noticed. For example if I observe that going hiking leads to me feeling grounded, calm, and rejuvenated, then it would be helpful for me to make more time for that. Or if it’s a rainy day and I know this tends to bring me down, I could notice that and allow myself some space to be slower on days like that. It’s just one of the many ways we can get to know ourselves more and make accommodations that work for us. In that way it can be part of our self care.

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