As we spend more and more time at home, creating a space where you actually want to spend time can be beneficial. Our living spaces have a tremendous impact on our outlook, mood, and wellbeing. And it’s not always something we notice until we’re stuck indoors for extended periods. Taking mindful time to reassess your living environment could invite a little more joy— and making tweaks where needed could add extra comfort that we all so need while also boosting overall contentment.
Mindfully Approaching Indoor Spaces
There’s a term called neuroarchitecture, which is how the indoor environment and buildings impact the brain and behavior. More specifically, how we can create optimized spaces to benefit physical and mental health. The first step is to take a look around. I know, you’ve been inside and have seen your space 24/7 the past few weeks. But truly look. As mindfully as possible.
Oftentimes we get complacent when we see commonplace things day after day. Our brains get so accustomed to monotonous content that we tend to miss things we’re familiar with because expectations come into play. Autopilot takes over. So, observe everything, every nook and cranny, the surfaces, the big picture, the small scale. Take a few moments to take it all in. Feel free to take one room at a time.
Assessing Your Space
Now take a few cleansing breaths. Inhaling and exhaling through the nose intentionally. After a few rounds, take a look again but this time notice what you’re feeling in your space. As a whole, how do you generally feel right now? Any and every answer is ok, whatever you feel is how you feel.
Now think about how your space might be able to support you or comfort your feelings. Our indoor space is like a unique ecosystem. It’s there to provide for us and help sustain life. As you look around, be in touch with your feelings, think about how you might be able to rearrange or make tweaks within your space to create a more supportive space. How can you invite in more joy or serenity?
Inviting Warmth & Comfort
Incorporating more warmth and comfort starts with things that make you feel grounded, especially in times of stress or uncertainty. Healing and grounding objects can include natural materials like crystals, stone, or anything earth-made. Others find foundational comfort from their roots— like gifts from loved ones, old pictures, cherished heirlooms, or anything that represents who you are or where you came from. This doesn’t mean to go out and find new things, but rather to make use of what you already have. Rearrange, repurpose, or if you find something that doesn’t resonate with you anymore, let it go. Creating a serene space also includes making space. Making space to support who you are right now, what you want to do and how you want to feel in your space.
Bringing in Energy
To invite vivacity or energy into your home, think about what in your home is living. Living things actually possess energy, which can encourage a sense of life and growth. Bringing the outside in with live houseplants is a great way to transport nature indoors and into your everyday life. There are numerous ways that plants and flowers help physical and mental health. But perhaps the most interesting is the fact that some houseplants filter air, making the household air we breathe a little cleaner. Humans have an innate affinity for the natural world and infusing nature into our lives, often referred to as the biophilia hypothesis. Another way is to display your fruits or vegetables, as the colors exemplify forms of life. And as we know, colors have a significant impact on our mood. It’s a primal response, as colors were clues in our living environments and helped us navigate nutrients (and avoid poisonous items).
Inspiring Individuality and Expression
On another level, creativity is an outlet that needs to be fostered, and having the right space for it to manifest is important. Whatever sparks your creative side, try to infuse that igniter into a dedicated space. Perhaps create an inspiring corner or cozy nook— a dedicated space to create art, read, meditate, flow through yoga poses, sip tea, whatever it is that recharges, uplifts, or relaxes you.
Declutter into Harmony
Lastly, keeping a tidy and clean space can help us feel balanced. When things are in disarray, we tend to feel that and take that on internally. Research on clutter shows that having a bunch of “stuff” everywhere creates discord mentally. It also makes people procrastinate and increases levels of stress. Cleaning is a simple way to control the chaos around and can be quite therapeutic. I mean, we all know that pleasurable feeling right after you’ve cleaned, when you sit down to take it all in. It’s so satisfying. But let’s be real, a clean space all the time may be difficult with kids, pets, and working from home. So just try to dedicate a little time daily to cleanse your sanctuary; it doesn’t have to be immaculate or unattainably polished.
Now that we’re all spending more time at home, maybe we can use some of that additional free time to mindfully approach our spaces. As you rearrange or recreate your space, instead of saying this looks pretty here, think about how it’s supporting you there. It should be aesthetically pleasing, functionally relevant, and emotionally supportive. Readjust, realign, recalibrate as needed.
In these trying times, mental health can be overlooked. Creating a space that makes sense, feels good, is relaxing, and inspiring can be the energizing and uplifting jolt that we need— helping us keep a positive outlook and get through these tough times alone, but collectively together. After all, home is a feeling, an experience, and more than just a physical dwelling.