What feelings come to mind when you walk past that growing pile of laundry or clutter in the corner? Anger? Guilt? Or do you just close your eyes and pretend not to see it? It has been scientifically proven that your environment has an effect on your mental and physical health. In order to successfully live a healthy lifestyle you have to begin with a healthy environment.
So what is a healthy environment? A healthy environment is a space where you can relax, feel safe, focus, and thrive. Whether your current goal is to better your health, be more productive, or just get back into a routine after this crazy year, your environment has a huge impact on your success. Your environment includes your home, work, and any other space you spend your time. Think about these spaces and how they make you feel. Below are 5 tips to create a healthy environment that will set you up for success.
While that pile of laundry or clutter isn’t physically hurting anyone, it could be having a negative impact on your mental health. Those feelings of anger, guilt, and avoidance associated with it can cause stress, anxiety, and put a damper on your mood and productivity. Organizing and getting rid of excess stuff can make you feel calmer and in control.
- Start with 5 minutes a day. Depending on the amount of clutter you’re dealing with, attempting to conquer it all at once could be overwhelming. Instead, dedicate 5 minutes a day to organizing or decluttering a different area.
- Find a place for every item. Clutter tends to build up because certain items do not have a designated place. Being able to find what you need when you need can save you time and cut down on stress.
- Replace and throw away overlooked household items. Did you know that you are supposed to replace your bed pillows every 1 to 2 years? Everyday household items like old pillows, sponges, towels, and tupperware containers tend to not only not get replaced regularly but if they do get replaced we often hold on to the old ones “just in case.” These items can be culprits in contributing to clutter in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and linen closets. Replace and throw away!
- Create a donation pile. For some people, letting go of items that we barely use or clothing we barely wear is challenging because there’s that little voice in your head telling you “I may want this.” Creating a donation pile for these items to go to a family or individual in need who will appreciate them can give you that push to declutter by getting rid of these items for good.
2. Stimulate Your Senses
A healthy environment should spark positive feelings, good vibes, and a sense of relaxation.
- Add color. Think about your favorite or color or a color that just makes you happy and feel calm. Paint an accent wall in some of your rooms or find furniture and accessories that color.
- Bring in calming scents. Candles and oil diffusers are a great way to add some relaxation to your environment. Scents such as lavender, rosemary, sage, and jasmine can help you destress and add a sense of calmness. You can also pick up some fresh flowers for a more natural way to stimulate your sense of smell.
- Turn on some music. Music has been proven to help improve your mental health as well as promote a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re playing calming music for sleep and studying or something a little more upbeat for cleaning and background noise, turn the tv down and the music up.
3. Give Your Kitchen a Facelift
Eating healthier and making mealtimes easier are common goals that we all want to achieve to aid in living a healthy lifestyle. However, a healthy lifestyle can only thrive in a healthy environment. Take a quick evaluation of your kitchen space. Are your countertops clear of clutter? Have some of your spices expired? How easy is it to get yourself a healthy meal? Updating your kitchen is a sure way to boost a healthy environment.
- Get rid of all expired spices. Did you know that most spices expire after 3-4 years? Tossing old spices and replacing them with new ones often gets forgotten. Expired spices not only add clutter but over time they begin to lose their aroma and flavor potency. Spices should be stored in a cool dry place away from heat and can be labeled for organization and ease.
- Organize pantries, cabinets, and drawers. Clean and organized spaces in your kitchen make for easier food preparation, cooking, and clean up. Donate any food items in good condition that you won’t get around to eating or that don't suit your needs. Also donate or throw away any broken or unnecessary appliances.
- Stock up on quality foods. Quality foods are minimally processed and leave you feeling full and energized. Having healthy foods readily available can take the stress out of trying to get a healthy meal before work and the dreaded “what’s for dinner” question.
4. Let natural light in
After a long winter of gloomy short days, we tend to forget to open the windows every morning and let natural light in. Sunlight not only puts you in a better mood but it also has health benefits. Sunshine boosts vitamin D, helps fight off seasonal depression, and can improve sleep. There are a few different ways you can brighten up your environment with natural light.
- Open windows. Get into a routine of waking up and opening the windows every morning
- Choose the right colors. Lighten up dark colored walls with reflective colors like yellow or white. Or add a colorful rug to the space.
- Add mirrors on the wall. This will help the natural light bounce around the room.
- Keep windows clean. Making sure that windows are clean inside and out ensures that your space is getting the maximum amount of light.
5. Create a routine
The best way to keep up with your new healthy environment is to create a schedule to do so. Getting in the habit of staying on top of these tips and changes ensures that you keep your environment healthy. Setting reminders on your phone or marking it on your calendar are good ways to keep your spaces in order.
- Daily- Open the windows
- Weekly- Clean windows and mirrors, stock up on healthy food
- Monthly- Replace sponges, get new toothbrushes,
- Yearly- Throw away expired spices, replace pillows and bath towels, check expiration dates on medicines and vitamins
Creating a healthy environment isn’t something that will happen overnight. It will take some time and planning to tailor your space to your personal needs and the needs of the people you share your environment with.
Start with the smaller changes like making sure you are letting natural light in every morning. Use that boost of energy from the natural light to begin decluttering spaces for a few minutes each day. As your space begins to open up and become free of clutter, start looking for ways to stimulate your senses with your favorite colors, scents, and music.
When you are finally happy with your new healthy environment, make sure you implement ways to keep up with your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks. You can assign tasks for each person in your household to contribute to the upkeep, make reminders for yourself in your phone, or mark your calendar. Remember a healthy lifestyle can only thrive in a healthy environment.