Set your space up for success in 2021
Set your space up for success in 2021: Make your home office a healing space
Over the past year, we have all spent a lot more time in our homes. As we have all learned, your environment plays a large part in your health and wellbeing and should be a primary focus in our everyday life. Now more than ever, it is vital to make sure your space works for you. As most of us also have to live out our professional lives at home, it is important to ensure your home office is equally functional so that both your home and work lives can thrive.
Dr. Lorissa MacAllister partnered with Dr. Wayne Jonas to share the research evidence of how you can make your living environment a healing space in May of last year. You can read the full piece now on Psychology Today, or keep reading this blog post for the highlights, and learn about actionable steps you can take today.
Why is it important to create a “healing space”?
Your environment is comprised of many elements: sights, sounds, smells, touch, comforts, and so on. Each of these elements can either support or cause harm to your health and wellbeing. Your home office can contain stress triggers. A trigger could be something as simple as a pile of unorganized papers on your desk; things you may not think twice about can affect your mental health and how successful you are in your work.
“Most of us have at least some control over our homes. You can design your home environment to support your health and wellness,” says Dr. MacAllister.
There is proven research that demonstrates that the environment does literally influence a person’s wellbeing. With this knowledge, it is important to pay attention to what we choose to surround ourselves with. Just as you are mindful to exercise, it is necessary to be mindful to create a space you can truly function in.
You may be wondering, when can I start making my home office a healthy space?
We put together 5 simple steps, and they are so easy that you can start applying them today!
Create a healing space in 5 steps:
1. Surround yourself with nature.
Use natural light, views of nature, artwork that depicts scenes of nature, flowers, and houseplants.
Scientists have demonstrated that our sight plays a primary role in stress levels and anxiety. The view from your home office can have either a relaxing effect or it may increase your agitation. Having access to natural daylight and images or a view of nature can produce a calming effect. If you are able, position your desk to allow visualization of natural light to help create a more calming work experience.
2. Decorate with meaning.
Fill your home office with things that signify meaning, such as photographs of family and friends, religious symbols, and personally created or collected artwork. These visual cues can cause you to think of fond memories, which can help to calm you when you feel your anxiety rising.
Photos of people or places important to you can be a great source of inspiration and can help motivate you to power through a difficult task at work or meet deadlines.
Decrease your stress by simplifying your space. Visual clutter causes overstimulation and can very often lead to stress. This stimulation can make it difficult to focus on work, as your mind is trying to make sense of your surroundings. This can trigger your mind to race about non-work-related tasks, such as what you need from the store, household chores, etc.
Reduce your stress by opting to de-clutter, clean, and create quiet spaces for reflection.
“Removing unneeded and unwanted things from your home reduces stress. Cleaning removes dust and toxins from your home. Quiet spaces for reflection help you take a pause from the demands of everyday life. A quiet place to start your day is especially important”, says Dr. MacAllister.
4. Choose the right colors.
Color theory has long been studied, and recent findings show that there are performance differences between the use of color and space. Choosing the wall color for your home office can be an effective way to focus the energy you are hoping to achieve with your work.
If you feel that you need a space to boost your creative activity, opt for reds, oranges, or yellows as it is proven to stimulate and invigorate. If you think you need to increase your ability to focus, opt for blues, purples, and greens as it is proven to promote concentration and high visual acuity (Sharpe, 1974). Studies also show that colors that mimic nature or overall warm colors greatly increase the feeling of calm and relaxation in a space.
Choose wisely to select the right energy for your home office!
5. Keep your bedroom dark and separate.
Creating an area devoted to your rest is incredibly important when working at home and being productive all day long. Without clear lines of separation and a properly created environment, it may be increasingly difficult to shift your mind from work to sleep.
“Make your bedroom a place of sanctuary and restoration,” says Dr. MacAllister.
Removing the clutter from your bedroom can help you relax as you are winding down for bed, but light is a much bigger issue. Lower light levels make it easier for your brain to recognize that you are transitioning into a cycle of sleep as opposed to wake. If your bedroom is too light due to streetlights or other light sources, choose blackout shades or curtains. Eliminate or dim lights from clocks, TVs, and phones while trying to sleep. If you can, opt for an alarm clock with red light, as blue light can negatively affect your ability to sleep.
Here’s to a safe and healthy 2021, and to changing course to create productive home working spaces this year. Take these simple steps to being your journey today.