Having a space you enjoy spending time in can help you relax, unwind, and unload stress. From colors and cutting clutter to sunlight and scent, here’s how to refresh your home — even if it’s just a small corner of it — to create a cozy spot as you stay safe indoors.
Research has shown that sunlight increases levels of the hormone serotonin, which makes us feel happier. "If you’re not getting sunlight, you’re going to feel more lethargic," says Amanda Bye, PsyD, a Kaiser Permanente behavioral medicine specialist. When your time outside is limited, open curtains or rearrange furniture so your favorite chair is near a window.
Clear away clutter
When bills, dishes, and newspapers pile up, people feel a sense of unease. "That doesn’t feel settling or restful for people," Bye says. A simple solution? Cut out the clutter. "Pick 2 things you can do each day," she suggests. "You’ll start allowing your mind and body to rest."
If you have paint, adding a pop of color, like sunflower yellow or sky blue, can be an instant mood booster. Colors both soothe and stimulate us. "Lighter shades of blues and greens and neutral creams are calming. They feel good," Bye says. So, consider selecting soothing colors to set a kinder, gentler tone for your home. If you have art supplies, get creative by painting or drawing, or hang scarves as wall decor.
Seek out scent
One simple way to create a peaceful place? Fill your home with your favorite scents. Experiment with aromatherapy by using plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Let your nose guide you to the smells you find most relaxing and stimulating. "We recommend lavender when people have sleep problems. Grapefruit tends to be more energizing and awakening," says Bye, who adds that scents may hold the power to help manage moods.
Bring the outside in
While you’re sniffing around for good scents, don’t forget that nature stimulates your senses, too. A rippling indoor water feature or an open window are all ways you can invite nature into your home. If you have a yard or garden, experiment with building arrangements of flowers or branches. "If you can’t get outside, bringing nature inside absolutely improves our mood," Bye says.
In addition to changing your environment, you can work on being healthy and happy from the inside out by learning to lower your stress levels. If you need help, our online healthy lifestyle programs can help. Find out more at kp.org/healthylifestyles.