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There are no two ways about it, 2020 has been a challenging year. We have spent more time than ever before in our homes and quite possibly seen parts of it in a new light. Having so much time in our home environment, can highlight areas which we feel we might like to improve or alter. One thing is for certain though, in times of uncertainty and upheaval, having a home that feels truly like a safe, comfortable sanctuary, is the most important factor. Our homes should be places of nourishment and relaxation. Sometimes it is not about having designer items or the season’s home trends, but creating a refuge, a space that rewards us with a feeling of comfort when we walk in. Here at Stiltz Home Lifts New Zealand, we have come up with five ways to make your home do just that:

1) Create space focused on relaxing

As a first step to an overall more sanctuary-like space, start by identifying an area in your home where the whole ethos can be one of relaxation and calm. It could be the living room, a garden room or even a bathroom. The idea being, that having such an area is the route to developing a ‘habit of relaxation’ which is a fundamental of self-care. Within the space, look at how to inspire all your senses with a feeling of reassurance and calm. You can use natural scents, through flowers or an aromatherapy diffuser to soothe. Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to our limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for our behavioural and emotional responses, so we react to scents at the most primal level. Use soft, cosy fabrics that help you unwind, remove any whirring electronic background noise or even loud clocks. This should be your space to regroup, relax and forget about your troubles.

2) Declutter

As well as being a physical distraction that can attract dust and irritate allergies, clutter can have a psychological impact which prevents us from relaxing in our home. Piles of stuff everywhere cause our energy levels to drop as subconsciously, our minds are worried about the need to clear them. When it comes to decluttering, follow whatever approach you are comfortable with; progress is progress. It could be one major purge of a space or category of item, or it could be just taking a drawer or cupboard at a time. It will all help towards achieving a home that is more like the sanctuary you aspire to.

3) Routine

Similarly, the key to maintaining a clear and calm home environment is to adopt simple daily routines that prevent things from building up. So, if you managed to have a clear out whilst you were stuck at home more, be sure to keep on top of it as things return to a degree of normality.
If you are working at home, be strict about finishing work and putting away work-related things, so that they do not contribute to stress once your day’s work should be over. Importantly, in your daily routine, ensure you schedule in time to sit quietly in your relaxing space, avoid electronics and indulge in reading or listening to music.

4) Colours and lighting

Colour is a major mood influencer. It is used around us all the time to influence everything from our shopping decisions to our sense of health and wellbeing. Cool, calming, tones can be restful and sleep inducing. Warm, earthy tones reminiscent of summer holidays may be preferred by others. Use whatever colours appeal to your senses. If you do not know where to start thinking about the following. Yellow, like sunshine, is intended to lift the spirits and has been shown to alleviate depression and increase energy levels. Green is a balancing colour, known to bring calm, reduce stress and tension, it has been found to be reassuring and restful. Blue is the ultimate stress relieving colour, in therapy it is often used for therapeutic spaces to soothe and relieve tension due to its effect on the central nervous system.
In terms of lighting, seek as much natural light as possible and create soft light to evoke cosiness when it is dark, avoid glare and harsh overhead lighting.

5) Plants and flowers

More and more people are turning to plants and greenery in their home spaces to contribute to the feeling of wellness and the reassurance of nature and growth. For some city dwellers in Auckland for example, not having a garden fuels the desire to have a few plants around the home, or even fresh flowers to enable an appreciation of nature’s work from your living room. Gardening experienced a huge surge in popularity this year when so many families and individuals were forced to spend so much more time at home and houseplants too were a popular addition as reflected by over 2.2m Instagram posts #plants of Instagram, enjoyed for the calming feel-good effect of greenery.