Consider all the feelings that your home evokes. How does your living space make you feel? Do you look forward to opening the door each evening to coming home to a familiar, well-loved place of warmth and comfort? Or else, do you feel some sense of anxiety? Perhaps coming home reminds you of the unfinished tasks you have yet to tackle. You may even feel haunted by the past. Our homes can start to feel ‘haunted’—not in the sense of ghosts or other supernatural beings, but as a result of all the negative attachments we may have. There may be souvenirs from a past relationship, piles of bills left out on the counter, or closets filled with the outmoded, dusty past.
What if you could banish all these remnants of things that no longer represent who you are, or whom you wish to be? What if you made it so that when you first entered your home, all you saw were reminders of the things you love and cherish?
Here are some simple ways that you can add a greater sense of domestic bliss to your home. With these tips, you will be on your way to transforming your space into a soothing sanctuary.
Just let it go! Seriously. This is not a musical number from Frozen, but a motto to live by when straightening up your home. Clutter is the biggest foe to the peaceful home. Toss out old magazines and newspapers. Donate, sell, or give away old clothing and household objects you no longer use. Focus especially on clearing out items that have negative or stressful memories attached. If you haven’t looked at it, worn it, or used it in a year, chances are don’t need it around. Keep a few things instead that remind you of happier things. In my apartment, I keep a colorful lamp of my grandmothers, two drawings by my mother, and a framed photo of one of my oldest friends and me posing with cigars at her dad’s house when we were about 12. These things have a subtly calming effect on me, without exerting any pressure. For the 30-bag challenge and ideas on purging the clutter check out abowlfulloflemons.com.
Get back to nature. We tend to spend much of our day in manufactured, artificial spaces. Yet, as humans, we long to reconnect with things that remind us of nature. House plants or cut flowers can have a soothing effect. Many potted plants have the added benefit of detoxifying spaces from harmful chemicals. The aptly-named Peace Lily is one of the very best at removing nasty air pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde. For other air purifying plant suggestions, read this piece.
Allow space for mess and intensity. This may seem counterintuitive at first. Aren’t we trying to limit mess? A better approach may be to forego perfectionist tendencies and face reality. The truth is life is messy and we don’t always have time to stay on top of all clutter or stray items. Obsessing over cleanliness and order can result in unwanted stress, and this goes double if you have children or pets. Instead, plan ahead and allow space in your life for these things. Give kids a space to throw down their bags or a whiteboard to scribble on. Consider having a drawer where you can just toss bills and paper clutter that can be hidden away until you have time to sort through it (then figure out a time to do so, like once a month on Saturday morning).
Adjust Your Routine. How you go about your day can also contribute to how peaceful (or not) your home feels. Do you wake up minutes before having to dash out the door? Do you lock the front door with your smartphone in hand, texting while you gulp down a cup of coffee? Or do you wake up early, with plenty of time to get ready? What about the evening—do you settle yourself down a few hours before bedtime? If you find your mind racing at night, take some steps to remove the noise from your headspace. Consider keeping technology out of your bedroom, and not checking email within two hours of bedtime. Try reviewing everything you need to do for the coming day before bed and unwinding with a warm bath and a good book, like Arianna Huffington preaches.
Relaxation Rituals. There are other simple things you can do in your home which will promote a calmer atmosphere. Play soothing music in the background for a powerfully suggestive effect. Surround yourself with calming colors like blue or green. Try lighting candles or incense, especially those with relaxing scents like lavender or rose. If you’ve spent the day in an office with harsh overhead lighting, consider dimming the lights when you get home.
In the end, the best ways to decompress at home are the ways that make you most comfortable, so figure out what those are and don’t ask permission to indulge. Work with whatever gives you the most to look forward to when you come home at the end of a long, hectic day.