8 steps to make you happier at home

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If you’ve heard about Marie Kondo AKA Konmari, you’ll know the importance of decluttering and sparking joy in your life through your home. A lesser-known ritual she has is greeting and thanking the home for protecting and nurturing us. This silent ritual of expressing appreciation for what we have promotes gratitude and happiness.

Our homes should be a haven for us to rejuvenate and inspire us to go out into the world and do great things. If you don’t feel relaxed and happy at home, there are some easy steps you can take to enhance the positive vibes. From the furnishing shapes that give us the most peace of mind, to the colours that most easily enable happiness. Follow these ten simple tips to make your home a happier place.

1. “Make Your Bed”

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.” That was one of the lessons Admiral William H. McRaven learnt from basic SEAL training. This lesson can easily be applied to help us move forward in life.

2. More mess means more stress

It’s a known fact that clutter can cause stress and anxiety. Decluttering can help you take control of your physical space; it’s also a way to achieve happiness. The simpler your space is, the less there is to focus on, to distract or overwhelm you.

Too much clutter can have a negative effect on your mental and physical health. Over time, the build-up of all these stuff can impact the air quality in a room, making it stuffy and dusty. It can also make it harder to clean, leading to mould or hidden pests.

The Konmarie Method to decluttering is to start by asking yourself if the item “spark joy.” If it does, keep it. If not, thank them for their service – then let them go. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.

3. Return your Room to its “Ready” State

A quick mood-boosting routine, and one of the best practices to get into, is to take a few minutes to put each room back to it’s “ready” state. The discipline of returning things to their place is an act of reverence according to Marilyn Paul’s book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys.

A messy bathroom, a pile of laundry on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink is the last thing you want to see after a long day at work. So while this practice can be a difficult habit to get into, the happy feeling you get when you enter a clean room is worth the extra effort. Also, the best thing about this routine is that the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do later.

4. Benefits of Flower Power

Flowers can be used to brighten up a room with a pop of colour or freshen it with its scent. But did you know it can be used to calm your nerves, boost your mood, and generally make you more optimistic.

A team of researchers from Rutgers University explored the science behind why flowers make us happier. The study showed that the presence of flowers have strong positive effects on our emotional well-being, and an elevation in mood that lasted for days. Furthermore, it led to increased contact with family and friends, and participants reported feeling less depressed and anxious. It also shows that men who receive flowers demonstrate increased social interaction and happiness.

Chinese healers have long believed in “flower power” and say you can utilise flowers to summon whatever power or emotion you’d like based on the flower’s colour. Each colour creates a different frequency of light waves, setting off a chain reaction of responses in the body. Neurotransmitters are then released, inducing the production of calming hormones like melatonin, stimulating hormones like adrenaline, and mood-boosting hormones like serotonin.

5. Light Up Your World

We’ve all experienced feeling better on sunny days as opposed to cloudy ones. Some people are sensitive to the lack of sunlight that results from winter’s “shorter” days, which can disrupts our circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, and cause a drop in serotonin, the “happy chemical” that naturally occurs in our bodies.

The best way to harness that happy chemical is by letting in as much natural light into your home as possible. Open your windows as much as you can. Simplify your window treatments by choosing sheer curtains over heavy drapes. Letting in natural light also adds dynamic ambience to the room as the day gradually shifts from day to night.

If your home is void of natural sunlight, you can fake it with a Light Therapy Lamp which is designed to mimic natural outdoor light for an instant mood boost. You can also use a torchiere floor lamp aimed at the walls or ceiling to illuminate the room and create soft ambient light. To double the amount of sunlight in your room, hang a large mirror or an array of smaller mirrors to allow the light to bounce off these reflective surfaces.

We’ve heard it all before but white walls really is the best solution to brighten up a dark room. White sends light bouncing around your space, reflecting off other surfaces and making the space look much bigger than it is.

6. Be a Proud Plant Parent

It’s a known science that plants are good for our health and happiness. Surrounding yourself with beautiful greenery not only looks great but can boost your mood and decrease your stress levels. Some plants are highly effective at absorbing pollutants and purifying air quality. Just one plant can improve your air quality by 25%.

A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology concluded that working with plants could reduce both physiological and psychological stress. And multiple studies have found that plants in the workspace increase both productivity and creativity.

So visit your local plant nursery and pick up a few mood boosters.

7. The Scent of Happiness

The human nose is packed with millions of receptors that send information to the parts of our brain that process emotion and learning. It’s why smell is a more powerful tool for eliciting memories than any of our other senses.

The term Shinrin-yoku (literally “forest bathing”) comes from Japanese culture, and it’s simply about soaking up the sights, smells, and sounds of nature with the goal of enhancing physiological and psychological health. You don’t need to look for your hiking boots to get into forest bathing. The scent of pine, often associated with forests and nature, can help to reduce stress.

The smell of vitamin C-packed citrus fruits has been shown to boost energy and alertness, and studies have revealed that lemon scents in particular can reduce stress and leave a positive impression on others. Cleaning your home with lemon is not only a natural cleaner but can also make your whole home smell happy.

8. Small Acts of Kindness

When you do good, you feel good. Life can be stressful and by adding random acts of kindness into your daily life you can provide a healthy distraction from your own challenges, focus you on gratitude and boost your mood.

Call a family member or friend just to ask how they are and tell them you’re thinking of them. Give someone a compliment, whether it’s in person on online. Smile at a neighbour. Say thank you.

Most research on the science behind why kindness makes us feel better has centred around oxytocin, sometimes called “the love hormone” which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. It’s tied to making us more trusting, more generous, and friendlier, while also lowering our blood pressure.

Studies have also linked random acts of kindness to releasing dopamine, a chemical that can give us a feeling of euphoria. This feel-good brain chemical is credited with causing what’s known as a “helper’s high.”

Even just witnessing acts of kindness can produce oxytocin so join an online group like The Kindness Pandemic Movement which took off in March 2020 to support people who lives are impacted by COVID-19. The group grew to 500,000+ members in two weeks.

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