Build an oasis of calm right in your own home.
With many of us staying in and being at home more at the moment, it’s more important than ever that our homes feel like sanctuaries… calm spaces that we can turn to, and feel good in. Which is where the mindful living movement enters the picture!
Focusing on elevating our quality and satisfaction of life, this movement covers a wide variety of ideas and activities. From eating and sleeping well, to creating pockets of serenity in our own home, here are 9 easy ways to practise mindful living, and focus on wellbeing while staying in.
1. Get enough sleep and hydration
Seemingly simple yet often overlooked, getting enough rest and staying hydrated are two little things that can make a huge difference. Generally, adults should strive to get at least 8 hours of sleep and drink 8 glasses of water daily, although this may vary from person to person. Just remember - 8x8. If you’re not used to drinking water, setting hourly reminders might be a good way to get going.
Besides putting aside enough time for rest, create a routine sleep schedule and cosy bedroom that’s inviting. Select comfortable bedding with minimal prints to focus on creating an uncluttered, restful environment. And where possible, go with furniture that feature curves and organic lines instead of sharp, straight edges.
2. Exercise at least twice a week and eat well
Having an active lifestyle is vital in maintaining our general wellbeing. From keeping stress and cholesterol levels at bay to lowering the risk of depression, exercising consistently is well worth your time. And it doesn’t even have to be long stretches - there are plenty of quick 10-minute stretching or HIIT routines for light yet impactful moves that can easily be done at home.
When it comes to eating well, a helpful tip is to focus on increasing the intake of good food instead of eliminating the bad, like most diets do. Find ways to have more servings of vegetables and fruit, and look up recipes made of your favourite ingredients. Any form of lifestyle change takes time to become a habit, so start with small, doable steps.
3. Bring the outdoors in
Nothing soothes the mind more than being surrounded by nature; particularly, plants. Zosia, founder of The Plant Room takes this sentiment to heart and says, “By putting plants into our spaces we benefit from the therapeutic and restorative elements of nature. We believe nature, wellbeing and creativity are intrinsically linked.
Founder of botanical design studio The Plant Room in Leeds
By slightly altering our indoor environments and incorporating plants into them, productivity, creativity and general wellbeing has been proven to be enhanced.
“Living in cities compacted in by bricks and concrete it has become vital to understand and appreciate the need to break free into green, natural places.”
Take a leaf out of her book and choose a mix of green varieties that help clean the air. Leafy, trailing plants also inject a little wildness to create a tropical inspired ambience, if that’s what relaxes you. Besides making the air fresher, the plants’ lush green colour is soothing on the eyes after a long day of working with screens.
To continue the natural theme, pick furnishings made with materials like wood, rattan, or ceramic. The warmth and rawness of their surfaces contribute to a design that has a tranquil, back to nature vibe.
4. Focus on the relationships that matter
As we practise social distancing, it’s more important than ever to keep in touch and stay connected to the people who truly matter. Run a personal check to identify family or friends that you share a happy bond with. The ones who get you and with whom you’re comfortable being uniquely yourself around. And then reach out! There’s an entire gamut of applications and new technology aimed at helping us connect with those we love - and even an old-fashioned phone call would do the trick.
On the flipside, it might also be a good time to take stock and recognise acquaintances who might not have your best interests at heart, and reevaluate the value of that relationship to you. Studies have shown that our 6 closest relationships impact us the most, so surround yourself with a great bunch!
5. Detach from tech
On the other hand! While we rely on technology at the moment to keep us connected to the people we love, it’s also important to remember to step back from it every so often and have boundaries. It’s easy to lose hours of your day (and your sleep!) to endless scrolling and video calls, so creating healthy habits is a crucial way to achieve some balance.
If you’re not required to be on call for work, start by switching off your phone or setting it to flight mode when going to bed. Create a routine for yourself to unwind every night, either by reading a few pages of a physical book, doing some light stretches, or having a warm glass of milk. The key is to refrain from looking at your phone near bedtime, as the blue light tricks the brain into thinking it’s not quite time to rest.
6. Use colours and scents that calm you
Have you ever looked at a colour that immediately made you calm and long to look at it longer? Colour psychology and its effects are as real as a massage you’d get at the spa - it really can help us relax. If unsure of which hues would have that effect on you, neutrals are a safe bet to create a soothing palette. Perennial hues like white, soft grey and greige are failsafe options. However, it’s important to note that what’s calming to one person might not have the same effect on the next.
Besides colour, scents can help with a wellness agenda too. Typical choices include lavender, lemongrass, and lemon for a hint of freshness. So wear your favourite calming colour and light up a relaxing scented candle to get to some serious unwinding.
7. Dedicate a corner for conscious relaxation
While spending time at home - and possibly sharing that space with others - it’s important to still prioritise a little me-time and self care, so allocate a corner that’s dedicated to relaxation and what you want to do.
A little nook will do; you’ll only need enough space to practise your preferred stretches. Fit it out with a yoga mat or thick rug for comfort. And if you have a work desk at home, it’s a good idea to carve out a zen zone within the same room for quick stretch breaks. A space that embraces disconnecting and being present will likely become a favourite spot in the home!
8. Learning is a lifelong journey that’s good for you
As Henry Ford says, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Besides keeping our wits sharp and neurons active, continuous self-development plays a big role in giving purpose and interest to life. Whether you’re more artistically inclined, or love spending time outdoors, set a goal to learn more in a subject that tickles your fancy. Taking care of your wellbeing is more than just sleeping and eating well, it goes on to include growing your creativity and honing your abilities.
9. Natural daylight is the best light
Fresh, life-inducing and helpful against fighting depression, sunlight is the best kind of light source. Having bountiful natural daylight shining in can help reset a confused circadian rhythm too. Keep this in mind when planning out a space - consider if a particular area is more suited to be a reading nook, house a work desk, or become a yoga corner.
If you have small windows (or none at all), and limited access to natural daylight, lean towards warmer hues when selecting artificial lights. Light dimmers are versatile options that can be especially helpful in furthering mindful living inspired home design. When it’s time to wind down and relax, dim the lights slightly to create a warm and cosy ambience.