Our homes are indeed our havens – the place we go back to in order to recharge our batteries at the end of the day. It’s the sanctuary we seek to restore our sense of self after a stressful eight or ten hours at work and where we can simply unwind without having to put on an act for anyone because – unless we happen to be living with a partner or flat mate – we’re essentially on our own there and free to do our ‘thing’.
And boy do we need to unwind these days. Instead of making our lives easier, technology seems to have made it go faster and feel more pressured. Emails come in thick and fast at work – no sooner have you batted one away than another replaces it, while the addiction that is social media has us checking our phones numerous times a day – and night. It’s all a bit ‘on’ and we definitely need time to get ‘off’. Nowhere can we do this unwinding better than at home when we’ve shut the door on the outside world for a time.
Danes and Scandinavians have been ‘home chilling’ for years
The Danes have the right idea with their concept of Hygge – which you can’t fail to have heard about the last couple of years. In case you’re one of the handful on the planet who haven’t, Hygge is about being cosy, warm and getting happiness from the simpler things in life, such as huddling around a cosy warm burner and catching up with family. It’s definitely not about spending thousands of pounds on a new luxury sofa, for instance.
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No, we’re talking less rather than more here. Scandinavians in particular embrace this philosophy in interior design terms where minimalist and functional is the name of the game – rather than lavish and opulent (think Swedish log cabin v Trump Towers). Interestingly, both Hygge and Scandi design place a big emphasis on items made from natural materials such as wooden tables, chairs and flooring, woollen and fur fabrics and candlelight.
The reliance on natural products is, of course healthier too because it means there’s no chemical toxins in our homes, such as those from plastics and synthetic materials.
The dangers of stress
We need to be able to let go of stress and anxiety. Both make us ill – and not just mentally. Stress in itself can lead to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and has been linked to serious illness such as cardiac arrest and certain cancers.
Home ‘treats’ to make into a ritual
A warm bath, soothing music, scented candles, a chat on the phone with a good friend and cooking ourselves a meal then eating it at a nicely laid table – these can all help us unwind at home. But there’s always ways in which our physical home itself can release a little stress from our lives. And here’s how…
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How Your Home Can Help You De-Stress
Reach for a recliner. These wonderful seats were designed with relaxation in mind. The German make Himolla, for instance, have a choice of backrest systems (one of which is called Zerostress!). The chairs come with an adjustable head and footrest and can go all the way back to a horizontal position for a quick 10 minute snooze when you feel like it. Perfect for when you come back from a hard day at the office!
Big up your bed. Get the biggest bed you can afford – and which you have space for. There’s nothing nicer than having a king or queen-sized bed and lots of space to spread out in. Bigger beds are better for breakfasting in too when you fancy a relaxing lie in at weekends. Think carefully about the mattress you buy as well. These days you can invest in memory foam mattresses which ‘shape’ your body, giving it more support. Pillows are important too – make sure they support your neck and for added comfort get the fluffiest you can find (provided you don’t have allergies).
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Get glass furniture. Because it’s see-through and allows the eye to roam, glass coffee tables, side tables and units give the illusion of space and an uncluttered feeling which, in turn, makes us feel as if we can breathe easier because space = less anxiety.
Buy a big bath. A gorgeous deep, claw foot bath is perfect for filling with your favourite bubble bath and lounging in with a book and perhaps a glass of wine. You could throw some Himalayan bath salts in there for extra de-stressing.
Curl up in cushions. And make that lots of them – cushions don’t only support our back when we’re sitting, they’re also great for tucking ourselves in with when we’re spread on the couch and they can double as extra floor seating in themselves. Their soft textures and colours can be calming too.
Adopt a day bed – outdoors. It won’t be long before we’re lying back and enjoying the sun’s rays this spring/summer. But instead of opting for garden seating, why not go the whole hog and get a far more contemporary – and comfortable – rattan day bed? That way you’ll be able to lie out in the sun and healthy fresh air for longer.
Make more with mirrors. Light-reflecting glass is excellent for making a room look much larger than it is (which is why tall or wide mirrors are good for dark hallways and small bathrooms). Again, more space leads to a less cluttered feeling.
Style your seating. As well as having comfortable seating you’ll want to lay it out in a manner where, if you have friends or family round, it’s relaxing and easy to see one another ie arrange your sofa and chairs in a circle rather than an L-shape. And always provide a pouffe for a foot rest – as well as a couple of soft woollen blankets for when it gets a little cooler at night time.
Size up a standing chair. Many of us work from home these days which means we tend to put in longer hours at a desk hunching over a computer than we should. This can prove a nightmare both for our lower backs and our health in general (our circulation suffers if we sit all day). So instead of sitting, why not stand? Standing chairs are becoming increasingly popular by home workers these days. They protect the back more, the body’s not hunched up for hours on end and they’ll make you feel better at the end of the day – certainly you’ll feel less physically tense.
19 Tips and Tricks to Help You De-Stress At Home
- Peel back on patterns. Zig zags, stripes, polka dots and swirls – they give us a headache just thinking about them. For a calming interior stick to solid block coloured fabrics – plains, in other words. And on that note…
- Adopt a preference for pastels. Because winters in Scandinavia are long and dark, householders there tend to keep furniture and fabrics light using neutrals such as whites and beige with the odd pastel and silver shimmer to add a touch of glamour. The overall impression is one of peace and calmness with a sophisticated edge.
- Clear up the clutter. If we’re already feeling a bit stressed then walking into a room with shoes and clothes lying around the floor, not to mention papers, sweet packets and general clutter on the table tops, then it’s probably going to send us over the edge anxiety-wise.
- Sort out storage. So, in order to avoid the clutter, it’s important to have enough storage in the form of units, cupboards, drawers and pouffes you can store stuff inside (in fact, furniture that doubles up is great for minimising and keeping a room tidy).
- Let in daylight. Light and sunshine are cheering. Feeling happier helps combat anxiety so next time you’re feeling anxious and want to pull down the blinds and close the curtains do the opposite. Or, better still, hang voile or sheer linen curtains such as these:
- Get sensible with scents. Lavender is well-known for its relaxation properties so spray some on your pillow to help you relax and fall asleep easier at night. You could also keep some lavender pot pourri on your bedside table. Other relaxing scents are vanilla and even cucumber (so lie with a couple of slices on your eyes).
- Style with space in mind. Arranging the furniture in a room, such as a sitting room, to leave a space in the middle gives you a clear visual space, with no diversions and where you can ‘clear your head,’ in the sense that room to breathe = room to think.
- Sort out your sleeping. It’s lovely to come home to a bed that’s already made, with the sheets all lovely, smooth and tucked in and where you can just fall into bed at any time without any effort. In the absence of a maid, do this before you leave for work in the morning.
- Make it minimal. Simple sofas with no fuss and clean lines look uncluttered and restful. The idea fits in with many contemporary design styles these days so this type of furniture won’t stress you out trying to find it in the first place!
- Keep shelves clutter-free. Sure, put a much-loved photo in frame up, a valued keepsake or two and a couple of books – but no more. Lots of white space in between objects on shelves is relaxing. Resist the temptation to clutter them!
- Paint with pale shades. Just as there are scents that relax the senses, there are colours that soothe too. Pale shades such as blue (last year’s Pantone colour of the Year Serenity, being a perfect example), lilac, meadow greens and lemon are great colours for bedrooms in particular because they’re so relaxing and so conducive to sleep.
- Get some greenery. Plants are incredibly relaxing. Looking after and nurturing another living thing makes us feel good about ourselves while the plants repays us by removing the toxins hanging in the air of our homes from sprays, deodorants etc and introducing healthy fresh oxygen instead.
- Say ta-ta to the TV. Hide the TV when not in use – either by putting a curtain over it (if it’s on the wall) or shutting a door (if you have it on a shelf in a unit). Or the next time you buy one get a small screen. A huge screen TV is just too tempting to switch on whenever you enter a room, giving less time for some peace and serene reflection.
- Get hangers for the hallway. Make sure there’s somewhere you can hang your coat and bag, and put your shoes the minute you walk through the door of your home. And keep your slippers nearby too. That way you change from office to home the minute you walk through the door. As well as a physical shift it will also be an unconscious mental one.
- Add some atmospheric artwork. A painting or picture which reminds you of a perfect and relaxing period in your life can do wonders to invoke that feeling again. Pictures of sunsets, seascapes and a meadow filled with wild flowers can have a similar effect.
- Tantalise with textiles. As well as adding interest to your home (if you’ve chosen to go for a neutral colour scheme), textiles can also bring comfort. We’re thinking velvet cushions, soft woollen throws, fluffy rugs and crisp cotton or linen bed sheets. It’s all about soothing touches.
- Feel fresh air. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a ground floor flat and have french winows or sliding doors then open them and invite the outdoors in as often as you can. Connecting with nature is always relaxing and if those doors open out onto a green lawn and some flower filled planters, then better still…
- Add ambient lighting. Lighting is a very effective way of changing the mood in a room. Ambient (mood) lighting can be achieved via wall lights, recessed lighting, table lamps, LED cable lights and, of course candle light.
- Encourage Zzzzz’s with Zen. A way of life which has always encouraged serenity and spirituality, Zen Buddhism adopts such anxiety-reducing items as small water fountains, smooth round pebbles and pretty pink blossoms. Introduce some of these sparingly into your home (you don’t want too much clutter!). Maybe keep the stones in your bedside drawer and the wall fountain in the hallway.