Jan 15, 2019 09:00PM
After the sparkling displays and nostalgic jingles are put away, I still have a sense of uneasiness. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the season’s feel-good vibes. I love giving gifts, and you probably won’t find a more extroverted introvert on the planet than me. But the truth is, our society has been operating on over-stimulated autopilot for years, allowing the cultural norms of the holidays to spin out of control. Whether it’s hosting family gatherings, preparing for school functions, participating in gift exchanges, or mapping out shopping lists, the pressure to be high performing that time of year can stir up anxiety.
Living with an atypical creative mind has taught me that most of life’s challenges can be overcome simply by crafting different choices for myself. After all, it’s the maker’s mantra to build something new out of something broken, even if it goes against the grain of the status quo. That’s why my new book, Designing For Wellness, encourages everyone to be active curators of their lives as a way to cultivate a new state of calm. The easiest place to start is in our personal spaces. So here are my top five practices that anyone can implement for creating a more serene home in the new year.
EMBRACE THE IMPERFECTIONS
Living by impossible ideals is a habit that keeps us from wellness. Spotless spaces and impeccable decorations make anyone feel like he or she can’t be himself or herself, which leads to unnecessary tension in our bodies and ultimately our relationships. If we truly care about creating a sense of ease and well-being, our settings need to feature the flaws rather than eliminate them tastefully. Try showcasing tables with distressed markings along with serving ware with less bling and more humility. The metaphorical message this design decision sends is that authenticity is valued over opulence.
BRING THE OUTSIDE INSIDE
Choosing natural materials to surround us is a vital step toward calming the racing thoughts within us. Current research in wellness architecture consistently states that when human beings have direct contact with elements of the natural world, even within built environments, anxiety levels are actually reduced. One of the simplest ways to do this at home is by gathering organic discards from the landscapes nearby and staging them as decorative elements. Whether it’s tumbled driftwood from the lake, rugged branches from your backyard, or unusual rocks collected from a recent walk, nature-based materials can be assembled into Zen-like centerpieces and innately relieve tension for anyone who walks by them.
If we truly care about creating a sense of ease and wellbeing, our settings need to feature the flaws rather than eliminate them tastefully.
DISCONNECT FROM THE NOISE
Every day, we’re subjected to an onslaught of sounds, whether it’s scanners at retail stores or commercials at the gas pump. It seems like everywhere we turn, we’re exposed to anything but silence. Consider this the next time you’re at a doctor’s office or a restaurant listening to blaring music and rowdy TV shows. Sometimes we need brain rest from unsolicited noise, especially when it continues to exist in our own homes. If you plan on hosting dinners and parties throughout the year, try removing the TV from view, offering soft, ambient music, and asking guests to leave their devices in a designated charging zone equipped with cords and outlets. You’ll be surprised at how such mindful design decisions like this can create new opportunities for meaningful conversations to take place.
OFFER SOMETHING INTERACTIVE
Provide people with opportunities to personalize their experience, and you’ll witness inspiring moments of personal growth. Try initiating self-reflection through a different kind of tablescape. Starting with a steel napkin ring, place a magnetic intention block (engraved with a thoughtful word) on top and position at every place setting. Once everyone has started their dinner, ask your guests to share one thing for which they’re thankful as it relates to the word they were provided. It’s a fun tradition that often leads to humorous and even tearful moments. More importantly, it gives young people in the family an opportunity to practice speaking to a room full of adults. When the night is over, you can offer the magnetic intention block as a token gift of the meaningful evening everyone shared.
Everything in our world embodies energy with different degrees of receiving and radiating. Even the accents placed in our homes carry a vibration that can affect anyone who enters. Once we awaken to the impact our collectibles have on others and ourselves, we can learn to harness the power of our possessions to enhance well being. Once we look inward, away from pushy trends, we can determine what we actually stand for in our world. Much like the people we meet in our lives, if a decorative element doesn’t generate a positive feeling, it doesn’t belong in our homes.