By Jennifer Li
We all find ourselves spending more time at home than expected. Our old daily routines have gone topsy-turvy. Many of the habits that anchored us, helped us function, have changed. Their absence can be jarring.
In this upside-down world, you may have the chance to establish some new habits. Why not make them healthy? First among these healthy choices should be nourishing yourself with daily self-care. Getting to that healthy place calls for creating a home space for wellness.
Wellness begins with carving out time and space for positive thinking, eating, and physical habits. What you’re trying to do is create what experts call a “habit loop.” These loops work best when there’s a cue — think of it as dropping yourself a hint. This is where creating a physical space comes in. By establishing an at-home wellness space, you create a silent physical cue that helps establish the habit, helping you drop into that mind frame without much thought or effort on your part. Remember the famous movie line, “If you build it, they will come”? Get to work on the space that will encourage you to give back to yourself each day.
So much of what we do is driven by goals and objectives — which can, at times, be a tremendous source of stress. Our wellness practices can help to alleviate this sort of stress. So, create a foundation for your space based on intention. Note how you want to feel in your space. Use that feeling as a guide as you cultivate your wellness space.
Begin by defining the purpose of your wellness space. Do you want to cultivate a daily yoga practice? Or do you need a peaceful niche for meditation? Perhaps your idea of wellness is a morning journaling session or listening to an educational podcast and taking notes. You might even choose a form of art therapy.
Whatever the purpose of your wellness space, let the form follow function. In other words: Find the space that's most suited to your wellness activity. Yogis need a space for a yoga mat and meditators may use a meditation chair or a cushion as a comfortable meditation seat. Journalers and artists will need some sort of desk or surface to work. Assess the available spaces you have and find the one that best suits your needs. Try to find an area free of distraction that allows for quiet focus. If the weather is right, a shady corner of the yard or patio may be ideal. An outdoor space gets you a step closer to wellness before you even begin your activity.
The purpose of creating a wellness space is to designate a place for alone time. This space is the cue that you will associate with your wellness activity, allowing you to turn it into a habit. That's why it's essential to remove distractions. Clearing your mind is all but impossible if you're surrounded by clutter. Strip away any distractions or reminders of tasks you need to tackle. Your wellness space is a place for you to engage with one thing, not a place to multitask.
This space should also be a technology-free zone. Clear your space from laptops, cellphones, and televisions. If you're using a phone for music or to listen to a podcast, consider getting a Bluetooth speaker so that you can distance yourself from the screen and engage only with the audio.
Indoor wellness spaces may benefit from décor that evokes nature or the soothing presence of indoor plants. Aside from purifying the air, plants add beauty and life to spaces. If you have a beautiful view of nature from a window, this can set the background as well. A landscape photograph or a partition screen with a botanical print may be just the right level of nature for your space.
Natural lighting is always a good choice, but harsh direct sunlight can be distracting. Filter bright sunlight with a mesh curtain or translucent blind to take the edge off. If your space lacks windows, incorporate a soothing light to complement your wellness activity.
While your space is a strong cue in your wellness habit-forming ritual, you can reinforce the effect with sensory stimulation. Using a diffuser for essential oils can provide aromatherapy benefits. If your space suffers from distracting noise, try a white noise machine or small fountain to create a soothing aural backdrop instead. Brewing a cup of herbal tea or lemon water to accompany you in your wellness space is another way to reinforce your practice.
Wellness and self-care are part of your ongoing journey. Forming a wellness habit now creates a foundation to build upon. While each of our wellness journeys will be different, establishing and cultivating a space to practice is a helpful tool that can get you started on the new path.
Jennifer Li is a physical therapist and yoga instructor who writes about spiritual and wellness issues for both humans and their companions.