It can be hard to find a balance in life. Our work, finances, relationships, and personal health can all change in an instant, jolting us into confusion even when we’re feeling our most grounded. On top of those major stressors, every day we’re forced to navigate dozens of smaller, unexpected roadblocks, like bad weather interfering with our commute or spilled coffee ruining a put-together outfit.
In the midst of all this chaos, it can be helpful to create a clean, calming environment where we can unwind from our troubles and focus on the parts of our day that really matter. Designing a relaxing space for yourself, be it at home or in an office, can give you a sense of control and put your mind at ease. Not sure where to start? We’ve found the following tips to be helpful.
Give your room a nice clean
Do you tend to scatter papers all over your desk, or toss your clothes on the floor instead of hanging them up? That might need to change. According to a study by UCLA, excessive clutter leads to elevated stress hormones. This makes sense—it’s hard to feel calm and productive when our environment is a constant reminder of all of the other chores we haven’t done.
If you’re going to start decorating, it’s helpful to start with a clean canvas. Intelligent Buildings International notes that clean, open areas and uncluttered space sets the tone for relaxation, giving us room to breathe (Amirhosein, Ali G. and Zodwa N. M.). Plus, they make it easier to walk around without tripping on anything, and bruise-avoidance is always a plus in our book.
Light it up
Don’t be afraid to open your curtains up and let the light in! Natural light can boost your mood by increasing the production of “happy hormones” like endorphins and serotonin. Further, the Vitamin D provided by sunlight has loads of additional health benefits, like promoting bone and teeth health, regulating insulin levels, and supporting the health of your immune system.
That said, it’s important to be mindful of your body’s circadian rhythm. Light may keep you focused during the day, but it can also keep you up at night. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “blue lights” like the ones on the screens of our electronic devices are particularly disruptive, and can prevent us from getting enough sleep when we use them before bed. When the day is over, it’s best to keep lights (and electronic use) to a minimum so you can get some rest.
Color-coat your space
The color scheme of your space can have a major effect on your mood. For example, blue has been proven to reduce blood pressure and make you feel sleepy and less stressed, making it ideal for spaces where we want to promote calm and relaxation. This could be great for your bedroom, where you want to unwind, but maybe less helpful at your office, where you want to stay focused and energized. Meanwhile, colors like yellow and green have been associated with happiness (ideal for a communal space), whereas red and violet have proven energizing (is there a room where you tend to work out?).
Whether you go choose a cheerful green or an invigorating red, when you walk into your newly cleaned, colorful, and sunlit room, chances are you’ll feel less stressed and more grounded. The changes don’t have to end here, either; keep decorating! Rearrange items, add just a touch of minimalist décor, maybe even a vase to fill with fresh flowers. Not only will you find your balance, you’d have completed a project you can be proud of.
- G. Amirhosein, Ali G. and Zodwa N. M. “Minimizing cultural clashes among Malaysian youth through improving the architectural design of universities,” Intelligent Buildings International. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis, 2012. https://www.researchgate.net/
publication/254242233_ Minimizing_cultural_clashes_ among_Malaysian_youth_through_ improving_the_architectural_ design_of_universities
Cordilia James is a sophomore at American University studying Journalism and Creative Writing. She is the Style Editor for the university’s student newspaper “The Eagle,” often reporting on local events and culture. When she’s not catching up on the news or journaling, you can find her exploring D.C., streaming comedy series, and daydreaming of Waffle House.