You’re bound to have heard about the benefits of practicing mindfulness exercises—these simple pursuits seemingly have the ability to reduce stress, improve decision-making abilities, and even boost immune system function. However, if your house is a hectic, chaotic place that makes you feel anxious or rushed, you won’t get as much out of your mindfulness techniques. Luckily, there are some subtle but powerful changes you can make in order to instantly make your lifestyle more peaceful and transform your home into a more relaxing place. Even if you don’t practice mindfulness, your mental well-being is sure to benefit from these seven tips.
1. Make the décor emotionally satisfying
Clinical psychologists have noted that people who surround themselves with useful and emotionally satisfying furnishings are more likely to achieve their self-improvement goals. This suggests the very same items help to create extra focus and determination. Fill your rooms with things that mean a lot to you, like images of those you love and objects that remind you of your favorite places. Meanwhile, pack away the sorts of things that elicit negative associations with the past, or that you’ve only been displaying out of guilt (e.g. unwanted wedding gifts).
2. Adjust the lighting
Interior decorators believe that lighting has a strong impact on mood—especially in the cold winter months when natural light is a rare commodity. Try to find bulbs that mimic natural light as accurately as possible, and stay away from fluorescent lights (which studies suggest make people feel anxious and depressed). In addition, you can create a beautifully warm and cozy atmosphere for reading, dining, or meditating by turning all the lights off and using candlelight instead.
3. Develop a morning stretching routine
Instead of rolling out of bed and stumbling to the bathroom, make a habit of connecting with the environment around you. Stretch before you get out of bed, and when you stand up. As you do so, take in the sensation of the floor under your feet—its temperature, its texture, and its solidity. This is a mindfulness exercises in itself, helping to wake up your brain and hone your focus for the day ahead. To make it more enjoyable, place a deep pile rug right by your bedside, so your toes can really sink in.
4. Focus on nature-based colors
Although we all have a different favorite color, certain shades have been proven to induce mellow, mindful moods. Colors that mimic the natural world are particularly good at this, such as soft blues, pale greens, and warm browns. Remember, you don’t need to redecorate your whole house to get the benefit of mood-enhancing colors. If you aren’t in the market for large purchases, little touches will still make a difference—for example, you might buy new blue cushion covers, and add splashes of green in the form of fresh plants.
5. Cook in a more mindful way
Cooking can anchor you in the present moment if you let it, and mindful cooking enhances the pleasure of the whole experience. Instead of trying to arrange tomorrow’s to-do list in your head or arguing with your spouse while you whip up a salad, zone into the little details of the food preparation process—like the temperature of the water rinsing the produce, the sound of your knife chopping your salad, and the heat radiating from the oven. Further, consider adding some mellow background music while you work. With the right changes, cooking can be something that grounds and soothes you.
6. Think about creating a meditation space
If you regularly practice mindfulness exercises, having a dedicated medication space will dramatically increase the sense that your home is a sanctuary. That being said, you can also create a similar dedicated space for reading, writing, or any other pursuit focused on self-care. Firstly, pick out a location as far away from noise and interruptions as possible, and make sure everyone in the household knows not to use the spot for anything but the specifically named activity. Next, make that area comfortable as possible (perhaps with a high pile of cushions or the most luxurious chair in the house), and decorate it with objects that connect you with your calmest, most reflective self.
7. Go technology-free for a while
Finally, it’s all too easy to get sucked into social media feeds, the latest news, and stressful messages from colleagues. However, you can take a vacation from the outside world’s demands by regularly choosing to take breaks from technology. Start with a period that won’t make you anxious—say, an hour three times a week in the evening—and consider the benefits. You’ll notice it’s much easier to concentrate on whatever you’re doing, and you may feel so refreshed that you start to want more tech-free time!