We are what we look at- we have heard this saying many times, and it really rings true when it comes to our homes. Have you ever tried working in an office or home that is full of papers and general clutter? Looking at a mess does not allow our brains to be clear and relaxed.
The human body is an amazing sensory machine. With five senses, we can perceive the world around us with incredible detail and accuracy: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. All of these senses are sensed by different organs in our bodies that send information to our brain so it knows what's going on outside or inside ourselves!
We use our five senses to process everything, so we should keep this in mind when trying to make our home more relaxing. We won’t be discussing taste in this article, as we all know eating healthy food contributes to our state of well-being. We will however, be discussing our other four senses- sight, smell, touch, and hearing- to see how we can create pleasure in our home for each sense, thereby creating a home that we will feel completely happy and relaxed in.
SIGHT: COMBAT THE CLUTTER ENEMY FOREVER WITH THIS SMALL TRICK
Clutter is like a little time invader, breaking into your space and making you frustrated. When we come home from work or school to a messy living room with junk on the floor and dirty dishes in the sink, it feels so defeating - as if there's no point of even trying anymore because our house just doesn't care for us at all!
Clutter invades every area of your life when not put away properly: going through cabinets takes too long; cooking can be frustrating when ingredients are buried under piles of mail; children who have been asked nicely multiple times to clean up their toys finally break down crying after seeing one more toy left out...It becomes easier not to worry about any sense of order whatsoever than deal with this insurmountable disorder.
Getting rid of clutter is rule #1 in creating a truly calm and relaxing home. Do not let clutter become a habit. This is a difficult task because frankly, it feels a lot like we just don’t have enough hours in the day. I know for myself, I tend to throw my clothing on the floor next to my bed when I get home, instead of putting it away every night. After a week- when I have a Mount Fuji of clothing next to my bed, I finally take a few minutes to tackle the mountain, dismantle it, and put it all away. I always feel so much better not looking at the mess- as if I have just checked into a sparkling clean hotel room. Yes, putting the clothes away every night would only take less than five minutes and would be a great new habit to start, but frankly, I have enough on my plate.
How about this for a trick? Create a home for that clutter to temporarily live where it is out of sight. Place a bin inside your closet, perhaps an empty box or an extra hamper. When you’re rushing around and you take your clothes off- just throw them in that bin where they can sit out of view instead of on the floor, until you are ready to take the time to put everything away. This trick has done wonders to my life!
You can really use this trick in any room too. Take a paper shopping bag for your unread mail you don’t have time to read every day and stash it in a cupboard in your kitchen or the credenza in your living room until you’re ready to open it all. This may be a task you take care of on weekends when you have the time and the headspace to go through it all.
SIGHT: THE IMPORTANCE OF SOFT LIGHTING
Lighting may be the most important thing to consider when creating a relaxing space for yourself. Bright lights do not soothe your mood, however are sometimes necessary to see better and/ or clean. Consider adding a dimmer to all of your lights around the house, so you can adjust the lighting depending on your mood or activity. Avoid florescent lights at any cost. Soft lighting is key to a calm, relaxing home.
Table lamps are wonderful for achieving that soft light feel, and great for next to a couch so you can curl up and read that book you’ve been trying to finish, or glance through a magazine.
Sunlight is so very important to our inner well-being. Make sure any space that brings in sunlight is not obstructed. Even on a rainy day, it’s important the natural light comes in. Make sure you pull your curtains to the side when you wake up, and pull those blinds up as well!
SIGHT: MAKE YOUR BED EVERY MORNING
We know you know, but we are saying it anyway. Making your bed every morning is a life-changing habit. If you're not already doing it, try making your bed the moment you get up, and see if this improves how much sleep you get at night! A national poll by The National Sleep Foundation found that people who make their beds every day have 19% better quality of sleep each night than those without such habits. Allowing for consistent time management practices to come from one simple task may lead to more fulfilling nights rest as well as daytime productivity!
TOUCH: FILL YOUR HOME WITH SOFT AND FUZZY THINGS
Ah, the feeling of finally finishing up your day and laying down on the couch to catch up on your favorite TV show. It’s calm and relaxing and we don’t have to think about anything in our lives. Now, you reach for that itchy wool blanket and… wait- that isn’t such a nice thought! Who wants to be itchy when trying to relax? Having a bunch of incredibly soft blankets around the couch to cozy up in is an absolute must for creating a relaxing, calm space. This goes for your throw pillows too. They should also be comfortable and soft. Surround yourself with things to lie on that are not only pleasing to the eye, but also to the touch.
Do you feel like your living room is already too crowded and doesn’t have space for a bunch of new blankets? Or that the blankets will create a messy look? Buy an ottoman with storage space in it. It’s the perfect place to keep your magic blankets within reach. Depending on how many throw pillows you have, you may have room in the ottoman to store a few in there too! Your feet will also be happy to have a place to put up.
SMELL: THE JOY OF FLOWERS
Flowers, if you choose the right ones, can fill your home with a wonderful smell and can act as aromatherapy – bringing us a sense of lovely, soothing relaxation while also being aesthetically pleasing. Buying flowers is a form of self-care and if that seems silly- just try it! Flowers do really bring a sense of joy and they belong everywhere! A bouquet on your coffee table, your dining room table, your kitchen, your bedroom, even your bathroom! You can mix and match colors and kinds, or you can have the same flowers scattered throughout your home. I always have fun choosing different colors of bouquets to match each room. I buy yellow flowers for my kitchen as the room has yellow accents everywhere. And for my living room which has mostly neutral tones, I choose a color that will pop, like red- for some fun.
SMELL: WHAT PLANTS CAN DO FOR OUR STATE OF MIND
Plants do so much to aid in creating a relaxing home. Let’s look at a few of their benefits. First of all, plants help to create a quiet space, which we all know helps us relax. How does a plant do this, you may ask? Plants have large surface areas that absorb sounds. Place large plants around the perimeter of your rooms and you will notice a difference. Plants also have many stress relief benefits, the biggest of which is creating a higher quality of air. Because of this, plants actually act as air purifiers, as they remove formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air. A little-known fact is that formaldehyde is the culprit of headaches and is used in the production of wood and leather products that your home may be full of. Plants can also help you sleep because of their air-purifying qualities. Plants such as Aloe Vera are especially helpful for a calm night of sleep as they emit oxygen, which helps you sleep better.
Plants can also do wonders to your productivity in your office space. A study by the Identity Realization research group at the University of Exeter, showed that plants can increase well-being by 47%, increase creativity by 45% and increase productivity by 38%. Nowadays, with most of us working from home, plants are especially helpful to boost our creativity. Why? Because sitting at home, we are exposed to a high level of CO2, which makes it more difficult to concentrate. When plants are introduced to any room, oxygen is brought in, which helps balance out the amount of CO2 in our bodies and brains.
HEARING: INTRODUCE RELAXING SOUNDS INTO YOUR HOME
Research has shown that sounds can have a profound effect on the way we feel. Listening to one type of sound may make you happy and content, while another might lull you into deep sleep or help with anxiety! I’m sure you have some go-to sounds when you need to relax, and for me it's slow jazz or classical music or simply silence. But there are other soothing noises that can also help ease anxiety.
I have an app on my phone I use for sleeping that plays the sounds of rain, or ocean waves, or white noise. Why not have your own personal rain, ocean waves, or white noise generator in the comfort of your home?
Or, how about adding something aesthetically pleasing to your home that also emits a calm and relaxing sound? Some ideas are setting up an aquarium with fish in it so you can watch them as they swim around while laying down trying not to fall asleep.
If you don't like watching fish or being responsible for them, then fountains are another great idea. Fountains are a great way to create an atmosphere of relaxation and serenity. They provide auditory stimulation with the Zen sound of flowing water, but also visual stimulation through their moving shapes in combination with soft lighting. One excellent addition you can make is to place plants or flowers along-side your fountain. Doing this will increase oxygen levels for both people as well as any animals that may be around- creating just the type of environment we need when feeling stressed out!