8 steps to a happier, healthier home
- Credit: PA
In the great pantheon of wellness trends, the home is strangely neglected.
Given that we often spend more time there than anywhere else, this might be a little unfair.
Wellness, like most things, begins at home, after all. Here's how to make sure that's a good thing...
1. House plants
You don't need actual woodland for forest bathing, not when there are snake plants, peace lilies and aloe veras to turn your home into a mini-greenhouse. Study after study has shown that exposure to greenery reduces stress, helps lower blood pressure and stimulates the senses.
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So shrub up to calm down - from a simple cactus on the window sill, to a miniature jungle of domestic palms and pines.
2. Maximise natural light
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Like plants, natural light is inherently invigorating and reinforces the circadian rhythms that impact our mood and sleep cycles. Just think of the hefty price hike tagged to south-facing homes, the all-glass exteriors of modern office blocks - or the sinister, claustrophobic feel of a dimly-lit basement.
Aside from the obvious (open your curtains), make sure there's no furniture blocking your windows' line of sight, using off-white or cream colour schemes to cultivate a lighter feel, and putting up strategically placed mirrors to send light bouncing round the room.
They say cleanliness is next to godliness, and, though we're not suggesting a full-scale Kondo-esque purge, a clear environment can be an aid to a clear mind. Your home is supposed to be where you recharge, and if you're never able to find things, pressured by a pile of unopened mail, or in fear of accidentally standing on your laptop, it may be a source of stress in itself.
Time to put your 'floor-drobe' back into the wardrobe, and we don't mean by just shoving it all under the bed.
4. Address your sleep
Poor sleep pas been linked with everything from low mood and fatigue, to shortened life expectancy in the longer term, so creating a conducive sleep environment is an essential step for a healthy home.
Make sure summer nights aren't cut short by leaky curtains (invest in blackout linings if required), use ear plugs to cut out street noise, and dust the area around your bed. If you always sleep better in hotels, there may be a problem with your bedding, and low-quality mattresses can cause stiffness and back pain as well as disturbed sleep. It's easy to undervalue sleep but the more priority you give to time spent in slumber, the more productive and energised you'll be during the day.
5. Invest in an air purifier
Once derided as noisy and unsightly, thanks mostly to a particularly pointed episode of Friends, demand for purifiers is now rising steadily year on year and modern models are sleek, stylish and near-silent.
Exhaust fumes, chimney smoke and particulate emissions are just another part of urban life, and purifiers are here to help.
6. Create a designated work space
Some 1.54 million Brits now work from home in their primary occupation (millions more do so intermittently), and it's wise to resist the temptation to work at the kitchen table in your pyjamas.
It's hard to maintain a work-life balance when they operate in the same space, so dedicate a work area that allows you to 'go to work' in the morning and leave at the end of the day. Posture is paramount, so invest in an ergonomic chair as a minimum. You might even consider the benefits of a standing desk.
7. Get a pet
You don't need an 'emotional support animal' to get emotional support from an animal, and this is another lifestyle choice with the weight of science behind it. Among a whole raft of benefits, pets have been shown to increase life expectancy, substantially slash stress, and even decrease physical pain.
We hope it goes without saying that you should only opt for an animal if you're fully willing and able to shoulder the responsibility and costs of care.
8. Don't worry, be happy
It's easy to obsess over the 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts' of your home, and end up neglecting what you actually want. Adding value to your home, tapping into fashionable aesthetics - it's all well and good if it aligns with your tastes, but most homes must be residences first and investments second.
Home is where the heart is, and there's no point crafting a masterpiece of modern minimalism if what you'd really like is a large, squashy sofa.