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How to Upgrade Your Space for Positive Mental Wellbeing

by Alyssa Longobucco · Updated February 28, 2022
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These simple swaps will leave you ready to conquer 2022 from the comfort of your own home.

There’s just something invigorating about the advent of a new year. It’s the perfect time to start fresh—the positive vibes are flowing, inspiration for bettering yourself is all around, and anything seems possible.

While fostering new healthy habits is typically the goal come January 1, it’s easy to lose sight of just how much your surroundings can impact your impending “new year, new you” success. We all spent much of 2020 (and yes, 2021) making pandemic improvements to our homes, but with all the time we continue to spend laying low, even those may be starting to feel a little stale. 

Enter: These 10 fresh ideas to help you create a calming, happy, healthy home. From easy budget-friendly swaps that will transform your morning to the unexpected addition that can reduce your blood pressure (really!), these tips are all geared towards giving your abode the TLC it deserves this year. And who knows? They may just end up changing your life—or at the very least, make you a more productive, less stressed version of yourself. We’ll take it. 

Turn Towards the Light

It’s no secret that, in many parts of the world, sunlight is in short supply during the winter months (cue the extra vitamin D!). Whether you suffer from a clinical condition like seasonal affective disorder or just consider yourself the human equivalent of a houseplant (the more sun, the better), the dim first quarter of the year can lead to you feeling sluggish, tired, and unmotivated. An easy solution? A bit of furniture rearranging. Observe how the sunlight moves throughout your space and how more of it could benefit your day. This can mean moving your bed to face the sunrise to make those early mornings a bit easier or placing your WFH desk in front of the window that gets the best afternoon rays to help you power through that 3 p.m. slump. If playing furniture Tetris sounds too daunting, try swapping in sheer shades instead—or at least washing your windows—to maximize the light you do get. 

Mix Up Your Staples

We all thrive on routine, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get a little dull every once in a while. To keep things fresh, swap some luxe staples into your every day to reinvigorate even the most mundane tasks. Things like splurgy handsoap, high-end olive oil, or personalized handtowels can go a long way in bringing new thoughtful energy to your home—and your daily routine. 

Paint a Mood-Boosting Hue

Woman Painting Wall Healthy Home

Color is one of the easiest ways to switch the vibe of your home, while also influencing how you feel and function within your space. This year, use paint as a tool to bring more of your desired energy to your space. Want to crush it at your creative gig? Coat the walls of your office in a soothing green hue (also the Color of the Year for 2022, according to many paint companies), which has been shown to boost creativity and work performance. One study found that after a brief glimpse of the color green, participants had enhanced creative performance. Looking to bring a little more happiness to your every day? Sunset shades (think: yellow, coral, peach, and more—like the colors in this swatch set from Clare paint) have been known to foster feelings of warmth, vitality, and energy. Is a zen outlook on your list for 2022? Then blue is your shade, psychologically nudging you towards inner peace and serenity. It’s also a great bedroom color for those who struggle with winding down and turning off their brain at night. 

Add Some Greens 

Plants are a vital component to making your house feel like home, so if you don’t already have a few (living!) plant babies around your house, consider 2022 the year you make it happen. While houseplants are touted for their air-purifying qualities (which they do do—just often not in high enough quantities to make a huge difference), they’re actually more beneficial to other aspects of your health, like blood pressure and cortisol levels. A recent Japanese study concluded that Shinrin-yoku, or the act of “forest bathing” and spending time surrounded by nature, can have a significant impact on lowering your stress levels and blood pressure, as well as increasing your white blood cells. A collection of houseplants won’t completely eliminate the need for a hike every once in a while, but they can go a long way in helping your home feel welcoming and healthy. 

Consider the Function of Each Space

No matter how many #cleanwithme videos you’ve binged on TikTok, organizing your home can feel daunting. Still, auditing your spaces is key to making sure your home functions in a way that reduces your stress rather than adding to it. Instead of overhauling every corner of your home (and driving yourself crazy in the process), take a few days to walk through each room and assign a “function” to the space that’s aligned with one of your goals for the year. For example, if you want to get better at meal prepping throughout the week, create a prep zone where your food storage containers, cutting boards, and other necessities are within arm’s reach. Likewise, if an adult-worthy nighttime routine is on your wishlist this year (we’re talking a multi-step skincare routine, meditation—the whole jam), then make small swaps in your bedroom that ladder up to this goal, like removing your television, investing in a skincare fridge for under your nightstand, or snagging an organizer for your journals and TBR books. 

Create a Concentration Nook

Woman Reading Book Healthy Home

No matter how organized and streamlined the rest of your home is, sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Enter: the concentration nook. Trust us, it’s a lot less strict than it sounds. To make it work for you, simply choose an unused corner of your home and outfit it with a cozy chair or floor pillow, plush throw, and adjustable light. Save the spot for “special occasions,” like when you really need to focus on perfecting that presentation or want to treat yourself to an uninterrupted 20-minute reading session. Having a nook away from the bustle of the rest of your home to refocus (or relax) will help you mentally reset. 

Shop With Symbolism

More and more, retailers are noticing the connection between our mental and physical health and our home environments. One result of this awareness? Home decor items that are both beautiful and packed with symbolism. If you’re hoping to lean into healthy living at home this year, consider picking up items that speak to both your design vibe and the hopes and wishes you have for a new year. Decorative crystals are a no-brainer, as are the charming printed throw blankets from Superstitchous that symbolize everything from protection and harmony to luck and fertility. More of a scent person? Spoken Flames combines bespoke candles—each geared towards manifesting things like laughter, focus, and fearlessness—with an augmented reality experience that gives you a poem, mantra, and more.    

Create a Scent Experience

Aromatherapy

Just like color, scent can be a powerful tool in your arsenal when it comes to helping you gear up—or wind down—for your day. Shop for a stylish essential oil diffuser, then get to work combining signature home scents for different parts of your day. Citrusy notes (think: lemon, grapefruit, or bergamot) are great for your early morning spin sesh, while scents like cinnamon, peppermint, and rosemary will come in clutch during that 3 p.m. WFH slump. At night, try winding down with a whiff of relaxing oils like lavender, clary sage, chamomile, or frankincense. Lavender, in particular, has been shown to reduce stress and enhance sleep. One study even found that lavender aromatherapy can help increase melatonin levels (which helps you fall asleep and stay asleep).

Splurge on Habit Helpers

Splurge on a few strategic habit helpers that will not only upgrade your space but also your routine. Before you panic, know we’re not suggesting you go break the bank at The Container Store. Rather, start a wish list of one or two things that may make each of your goals a bit more easily attainable this year. Need to be better about taking your vitamins (and organizing your medicine cabinet in the process)? Magnetic pill capsules may do the trick.  If you’re hoping a promotion is in your future, a cute desk organizer or comfy swivel chair can help you get there. Looking to kick off each day with a greens-packed smoothie? Treat yourself to a single-serve blender that’s easy to clean and pretty enough to leave on your countertop. Before you know it, you’ll have fostered a healthy home environment that helps you check off your goals and feel your best. 

Change What’s at Eye-Level

When you’re bored and uninspired by your home, there’s a good chance you’re bringing that dull energy to other tasks in your life—especially if you work from the same space. One of the best (and cheapest!) ways to mentally and emotionally stimulate yourself is to refresh home items your eyes rest on as they move about the room. This means the big stuff can stay, but the little things (think: pillows, throws, art, and more) can get a quick refresh. This doesn’t have to mean buying a whole slew of new stuff either. Something as simple as painting the frame your favorite piece of art is in a bold color, rearranging your bookshelves, or laying down a colorful accent rug can help inject your space with fresh energy that you can then carry with you throughout your day. 


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