‘Tis the season to be jolly, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Great songs, but is that the truth? Absolutely not. It’s one of the most chaotic times of the year filled with what seems like endless baking and cooking, cleaning, trips to the post office, and being shoulder to shoulder with people during the Christmas shopping frenzies. Nothing is better on a cold and stressful winter day than to get home, kick off your shoes, and relax. However, what do you do if you’re like the millions of us with screaming kids, arguing in-laws, and never-ending laundry piles? Well, it is the season for giving, and this year you should seriously consider gifting and treating yourself; the person who runs the show.
I once heard a quote that went something like “you can’t relax in a place that stresses you out,” which is both true and false in my opinion, and another one claiming that you “can’t pour from an empty cup.” If you open up a space in your home that is quiet and you can turn into a private retreat, then do it! It’s too cold to leave the house and go on a drive or a walk to simmer down and you need to take care of yourself. Keep reading to learn how you (yes you) can make your home a million times more relaxing during the holidays than it was before.
1. Turn Off the Lights, Open the Windows
I can’t stress enough the importance of natural light, especially during the long and cold winter months where we spend more time indoors bundled up rather than outside in the sunshine. Let’s take a quick look at the research-proven benefits of turning off lights in your house and opening your windows to natural light. First off, know that if you start utilizing natural light, studies show that many people drop their energy bills by a whopping 75%. Saving money is always an excellent way to boost your mood! Now let’s talk about SAD (seasonal affective disorder). It’s a disorder that causes depression in many people during the winter months- a time at which we aren’t getting out of the house and feeling senses of ‘cabin fever.’ Even exposing yourself to natural light for a short period of time can help regulate SAD, and further studies show it to make people feel healthier, happier, calmer, and much more productive. When you wake up in the morning, open your curtains and expose your face to the sun- it will start your day off on a positive note and make your home a much calmer place to be in.
2. The Power of Calming Smells
Aromatherapy is exactly what it sounds like- therapy utilizing certain scents. In fact, it is a practice that has been used for thousands of years in order to heal people of ailments naturally by breathing in antioxidants. However, it’s not all about curing ailments- it can simply just make your house feel more like a home. Think about a certain smell that brings you back to a time that you were completely calm and happy- maybe it’s the smell of cookies baking, maybe the smell of walking through the forest, or perhaps the early morning coffee aroma makes you feel more awake and happy (i can attest to this scent!). Start incorporating whichever scent makes you feel less stressed throughout the day by purchasing candles, oil diffusers, or roll-on essential oils. There’s seriously nothing better than having a house that smells like the holidays even in the middle of summer, and when guests walk into your house they will immediately feel more relaxed. Everyone wins in this situation!
3. Quietly Trickling Indoor Fountain
When people want to make their home more ‘zen,’ an indoor water fountain is one of the first things people choose to add to a certain space. Personally, I have my table fountain sitting next to my desk and it is filled with stones and crystals that I found myself. Overall, it makes me feel relaxed as if I were in a spa, even if the dogs are barking and the kids are screaming and running all around me. They are an inexpensive addition to any area and don’t require the constant maintenance that an extra-large outdoor fountain would need. Indoor fountains nearly appeal to every human sense- sight, smell, texture, and sound. There’s a reason people choose to fall asleep to the sound of trickling water and babbling brooks, and these are the same reasons people have fountains. They are stunning pieces of decor that have multiple uses and set the ambiance of a calm home to the very top of the relaxation scale.
4. Television Off, Music On
One of the most impressive technological advances is also sadly the cause laziness and the general feeling of malaise. I’m not saying to never binge on Netflix shows ever again, that would make me a hypocrite. However, turning to music rather than the television actually has science-proven health benefits. If you’re anything like me, you need music on to clean, cook, work, drive, and function with as little stress as possible throughout the day. It surprisingly turns out that this is very beneficial to the overall positive function of the human brain. In over 100 studies, music has shown to reduce levels of cortisol (the hormone that causes stress), fight depression and anxiety, and can even improve blood flow. Whether you listen to death metal or Mozart, make your home more relaxing by turning off the bright TV light and cranking up the tunes.
5. Clean Your Sink
This may seem silly but bear with me. Look at your sink- is it packed high with stinky crusty dishes or is it emptied out and shiny? If your sink is packed with dishes, how do you feel about it? I can guarantee it’s one of those ‘to do’ things in the back of your mind but you’re avoiding it by reading this article (I’m not complaining) and scrolling through your phone. Pause here, get up, and clean out your sink! This might shock you, but your kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in your home and it’s impossible to feel calm when you have bacteria-infested dishes staring you down. It’s also not a pleasant sight for anyone who is visiting. Doing the dishes and cleaning out the sink with a disinfectant will make you feel much more relaxed as the kitchen is a pivotal part of your home. After you have a clean sink, every other house chore will seem simple and you will be more motivated to continue cleaning. A clean house is a calm house!
6. Add Flowers Everywhere!
Okay, here’s the thing. Flowers are extremely cheap and easy to attain- you can find them at almost every grocery store so there is no excuse to have a flowerless home. Studies have proven that simple chores and tasks are much easier to complete with the influence of nature around your house, and you can never have too many plants and flowers. They add charm to any area and look great in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, or on the dining table. Adding plants to your living space will improve carbon dioxide levels, boost humidity, reduce dust and pollutants, and touching and smelling plants can make you feel calmer based on scientific studies and the book Holistic Solutions for Anxiety & Depression. Improve your relationships and personal well-being by investing in your favorite types of flowers.
7. A Foyer With A Holiday Theme
On the more decorative aspect of having a calm and cozy home for the holidays comes the holiday foyer. The first thing you or anyone else sees when they walk into your house is the entryway, and having a statement piece can set the tone for the entire house. Decorating for the holidays is definitely one of the most exciting parts of the season, and decorating your entryway makes your home so much more appealing. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for this crafty and relaxing home project, you can go to any thrift store and find a piece of furniture of any size to use as your foyer decorating platform. Check out these awesome ways to create your own impressive entryways and be inspired to create something beautiful!
8. Create A Space For Meditation
Having a private retreat to escape to when things become overwhelming is vital to remain as stress-free as possible during the busy holiday season. Therefore, mentioning a meditation space is the only true way to finish off a list of ways to make your home calmer. Almost every idea mentioned above can be incorporated into your meditation room- sunshine, flowers, aromatherapy, soothing music, a trickling indoor fountain, and relaxing decor will make the space perfect for meditation. The great thing about meditation rooms is that they are 100% unique to you. They can be minimalistic and serene or vibrant and cozy, it’s a mix of what you know makes you feel relaxed. Meditation is a practice that has kept people sane during stressful and complicated times for thousands of years and it’s a practice that won’t be going anywhere soon. If your mind is always processing thousands of thoughts, listen to a guided meditation that helps you stay focused- there are hundreds of meditation apps you can download directly on to your phone. Put on headphones to silence all noise that is happening outside of your meditation room and become one with yourself. Remember, meditation takes practice and is something you have to do regularly to reap benefits. Ultimately, taking care of your home and making it a calmer place to be in starts with taking care of your mind first.