We all know we should be practising self care, but what if our homes are fighting against us in having the best chance of improving our how we feel and our quality of life in general? Lizzie Jones is a well-being expert (and will be a speaker at our upcoming event in Frome!) and she believes our home environment has a huge impact on our mental and physical health. She shares a few ideas and pearls of wisdom on how we can make improvements at home that will have a long-lasting effect on our bodies and minds…
Our home is where we spend most of our time. It can greatly influence how we feel and affects almost every aspect of our lives. It’s where we sleep, eat, exercise and relax, and for some of us, it’s also our workspace. Our homes provide space to fulfil our basic needs, and by creating a comfortable, relaxed, nourishing environment, we can also greatly support and enhance our health, happiness and overall sense of wellbeing.
Another important reason to prioritise wellbeing is for the health of our planet. We can feel so disconnected from the outside world when we are safely tucked up in our house with convenience all around us and we can feel helpless when faced with the climate crisis and the challenges of the current political landscape, but we also have the power within our home to create positive change and impact the environment. We make so many choices every day; when we live more mindfully and intentionally and consider what we bring into our home, from what we buy and where we shop to how we reduce waste, it makes a difference.
Before we continue, I’d like to make it clear that you don’t have to have a perfectly styled, Instagram-worthy house to have wellbeing in your life! Everyone’s living and working arrangements are different, but I believe it’s possible to create a clear, calm and inspiring environment, whatever your situation.
While there are some investment items that will add an extra level of wellbeing to your home like a quality mattress, an ergonomic office chair or a decent water filter, this transformation doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Simply de-cluttering unwanted and unused belongings or cleaning and adding fresh flowers can change the atmosphere completely, helping us move from feeling stuck and overwhelmed to feeling light and inspired.
So, does your home support your wellbeing?
Do you have a quiet corner to retreat to?
Do you have a space to practise yoga or meditate without being disturbed?
Do you have an inspiring office space that enables your creativity and productivity?
Do you have a calm and relaxing bedroom for a restful night’s sleep?
What if your home doesn’t feel like a haven?
How do you begin to create a space that supports your wellbeing?
First, consider how you’d like each space to feel. Focus on one room or area at a time and start by asking yourself the following questions:
How would you like to feel in that room?
Does the room feel like it meets your current needs and wishes?
How could you change the space to one where you can thrive?
Now, read on for my tips and advice on the different areas you can make change…
Visual noise can send stress levels soaring, so if your home is cluttered and chaotic, it can leave you feeling worried and overwhelmed. Clutter in general has a profound effect on our mental health. Researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) discovered a link between high cortisol levels in female homeowners and a high amount of household objects. Essentially, the more stuff we own, the more stress we feel.
Start small and begin by tackling one area at a time. Try clearing a single drawer or your bedside table. Remember, the goal isn’t to create a perfectly spotless house, since that can feel like another laborious task to add to your lengthy to-do list. The intention is to create a welcoming space where you feel relaxed and your mind is calm.
Practising mindfulness while cleaning and clearing helps us approach tasks in a peaceful, calm way. It helps focus our attention on the here and now and it can be done at any time. Whether you’re cooking dinner, laying the table, folding laundry, or even hoovering, all you have to do is focus your awareness on the rise and fall of your breath during any task or activity; this habit will bring you back to the present moment. Being mindful at home is a good way to practise and develop the technique to control and reduce stress in any situation you may encounter in the wider world.
Getting Enough Sleep
Like the seasons, our bodies are constantly adapting and changing. The autumnal months are generally the most supportive of a good night’s sleep. Daybreak tends to coincide with the time we want to rise and it’s already dark when we want to go to bed.
It’s vital to our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing that we not only get enough sleep, but also good quality sleep. In her book, ‘The Sleep Revolution’, Ariana Huffington says ‘a good day starts the night before’. Ideally, we’d all get 8 hours of quality sleep every night, but it’s not always possible. A consistent bedtime routine along with a peaceful and relaxing bedroom can make all the difference when you need a deep, restful sleep.
Fresh linen, low lighting, clear spaces and a screen-free zone are all beneficial. Your bedside table is a good visual reminder to prioritise self-care both at the end of the day and in the morning. Add a candle, flowers, drinking water and try to keep it clutter-free.
A yoga mat by the bed also encourages us to pause and do some gentle yoga before sinking into bed. This can help you let go of stress and set you up for a good night’s sleep.
My kitchen is the heart of my home and my health. It’s also where I create the recipes for our online wellbeing retreats. Having worked as a nutritionist and holistic chef on various retreats around the world, I really understand the importance of a calm kitchen environment. Most people appreciate the benefits of eating balanced, nourishing foods, but the prospect of creating a healthy meal from scratch can feel overwhelming when you’re tired, busy or stressed.
If your kitchen is full of stuff and feels cluttered, it’s not going to be an inspiring place to cook. Clean kitchen surfaces and make space for preparing and cooking your food. Only keep out the equipment and kitchen paraphernalia you use regularly so it’s easy to find what you need.
A well-stocked kitchen makes cooking easier and more pleasurable. Buying spices, tea and dried goods in bulk will save money and reduce packaging waste. Being mindful while food shopping, cooking and eating can greatly enhance this everyday experience, making it less of a rush, more enjoyable and empowering as you know you’re helping your future self by making good choices in those moments.
The best thing you can do to aid digestion and ensure you absorb all the nutrients from the food you’ve lovingly sourced and cooked is to sit down and enjoy your meal in a peaceful atmosphere. If you’re feeling emotional, anxious or stressed before eating, again take a moment to stop and breathe. Lay the table, light a candle and use your favourite cutlery and crockery. These objects serve as visual reminders for you to slow down and relax while eating.
Nutrition, health and wellbeing are intrinsically linked. When we’re conscious of our food choices and aware of our personal needs, we’re choosing the most responsible, liberating way of eating and living.
There are lots of small ways I weave wellbeing into my everyday home life, like stopping to smell the highly scented rose planted by my front door, diffusing essential oils around the house and spending a few minutes outside each morning wrapped in a blanket with my cup of tea. Small mindful moments add up and help to alleviate stress throughout the day.
Prioritising everyday self-care such as sleep, good food, movement, meditation, play, time in nature and connecting with loved ones creates a solid healthy foundation. Of course, it’s inevitable that your house will get messy and things will pile up, that’s life! And be patient, It can take time to create a home that supports your wellbeing, start with a cosy corner, grab a snuggly blanket, light some candles and dedicate some time just for you.
Photography: Katrina Bartlam
If you’re already feeling more relaxed after reading Lizzie’s advice, then why not come along and meet her in person at our next Seek Inspire Create event? She’ll be joining us in Frome on the 4th November and will chat about How to manage stress, anxiety and overwhelm when running your own business. Or why not sign up to Lizzie’s Autumn Home Retreat? She’ll guide you in hosting your very own nourishing self care retreat right in the comfort of your own home.