As the school year approaches and schedules begin to fill up again, we all might be experiencing a little more stress than usual. Amidst the hubbub, it's important to have a place of rest to return to after a long day. But does coming home make you feel restless rather than relaxed? If so, it may be time for a change of scenery ... inside your home. Your physical space has a big impact on your mood and overall well-being, and with a few key changes, you can turn your space into a tranquil paradise that you'll love coming home to.
Bring the outdoors in.
It's no secret that plants make for a more harmonious environment. They clean the air, improve your mood, and enhance focus. Use plants to create a dramatic focal point in your home, like by planting a living wall, which will double as art while bringing the beauty and benefits of nature into your home. No green thumb? No problem. Snake plants, spider plants, and aloe plants are easy to care for and hard to kill.
Embrace natural light.
There's no substitute for the sun's natural rays when it comes to creating a peaceful, balanced space. Not only is sunlight more aesthetically pleasing and energy-conserving than artificial light, it's also great for reducing anxiety and blood pressure and stimulating production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. A few tricks for flooding your home with natural light: swap solid doors for glass doors, replace heavy drapes with translucent sheers, hang large mirrors (but don't go overboard, as too many mirrors can actually trigger anxiety), and add metallic and glass accessories that will reflect the light. If you have trees and bushes blocking your windows, trim them back. Also, consider your use of cool vs. warm light bulbs in the evening. Cool light stimulates and energizes, while warmer lighting relaxes.
Set the mood with color.
Neutral and soft tones are a staple for giving your home a soothing, tranquil vibe. But that doesn't mean you have to shy away from color. Start with a neutral base, then add pops of color (like an accent wall or accessories) based on the mood you want to set. Oranges and yellows are energetic and fun, which make them great for the kitchen or hobby rooms, but not so good in spaces that are meant for unwinding. Greens and blues can produce a calming effect — just be careful of choosing hues that are too dark, as they can make the mood too sobering. Also, beware of stark white walls, which can be harsh on the eyes; instead, opt for softer neutrals like light grey, tan, or beige.
Think "less is more".
Clutter is the enemy of a calm, inviting home. Even if you try to organize it on a regular basis, too much stuff crowds your space and creates unnecessary stress. This weekend, set aside a few hours to do a purge of your belongings. If you don't use it, get rid of it. And going forward, if you don't need it, don't buy it. A decluttered home gives you room to breathe, think, and appreciate what you already have. Say it with me: Less is more. Less really is more.
Decorate with natural materials.
Are you sensing a theme here? Plants, natural light, neutral colors: Nature is a key ingredient for creating a peaceful ambiance. Choose décor made from earthy materials, like wood, bamboo, clay, natural fibers, and stone. Keep it simple. Remember the less-is-more mantra? You don't need a picture on every wall or a knick-knack on every bookshelf. Think clean and understated.
In addition to the above changes, keeping that Zen vibe in your home requires ongoing upkeep. Allocate 10 minutes each day to tidying up, like cleaning off the kitchen counter, going through the mail, or straightening the couch pillows. And make it a habit to make your bed each morning: It will give you a sense of accomplishment and help lift your mood when you return home at the end of the day. Finally, be mindful about your technology usage. Keep TVs, phones, and tablets out of the bedroom, and give yourself time to unplug before bed so you can enjoy the relaxing home you've worked so hard to create.
With the right elements and a few new habits, you can transform your home into a cozy space where you can relax, recharge, and set out to conquer each new day feeling calm and collected.