All of us live in a busy, ever changing and stress filled world. I have no problem with my clients experiencing stress, so long as their body gets a chance to recover. We are built for stress, which means our body can switch from the heightened state of the sympathetic nervous system (that’s our fight, flight or freeze system which uses a charge of adrenaline/cortisol to lift our performance, navigate a difficult meeting or manage a threat), back to our parasympathetic nervous system, which is where our body is able to recover from it’s day, run routine maintenance and repairs to organs etc. Damage to our body's only occurs when we do not have enough time in rest and recovery.
A home that invites you to feel safe and secure upon walking in, is one that assists your nervous system to ratchet itself back down into 'rest and digest'. It can be the equivalent to walking in a forest, a sure fire way to flick us straight into rest mode. In our modern world, we need to mindfully ensure that we don't 'run' for long periods using our sympathetic nervous system, as it depletes our nutritional stores and wreaks havoc on our bodily systems. Ergo, home needs to be a place that brings a peaceful joy and comfort to you.
Here are my 5 top tips for creating a home that rejuvenates you:
1. Use the Marie Kondo method for decluttering. Keep only what brings you joy. Sell or donate what you can, and recycle/trash the rest. A colleague of mine has an objective to take one item out of the house every time she leaves. She gifts, donates or recycles that one item each time she does. So far, it’s working great!
2. Understand our body’s cues. If you have come home, and you aren’t feeling like you have switched into rest and digest mode. Take a minute to quietly sit and close your eyes, without any external stimuli. In the peace that follows, allow your body to communicate any information or pain that is currently being experienced. Follow that energy around your body until it dissipates. Sometimes just paying attention to yourself is the greatest adjustment you can make.
3. Look at the way you live. Are you living in a house with a lot of clutter? Do you have lots of bare walls and empty floors? Whilst it’s important to decorate in a way that you love, it’s also soothing to remove stimuli in a house.
4. Consider a pet, particularly one that is a pack animal. These animals are biologically wired to reduce stress in their 'tribe' through using their nervous system. They 'read' our nervous system, and then set about regulating it. Some times animals will regulate it up for those who feel low and sad, and sometimes they regulate it down for those that are running on their sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze). Pack animals play a similar role to the one we play with our children. Horses and dogs are particularly good animals for this process, but I find cats can be lovely too. This is one of the reasons you see therapy dogs in hospitals and for the very ill.
5. Keep a cool and dark bedroom. Our bodies like to be on the cooler side as we ready ourselves for sleep. Sleep is the greatest 'rest and digest' process we have. A cooler body in a dark room sends a signal to the brain to release the melatonin required for sleep. This is why once you are warm in your bed, you look for the cool side of the pillow and a cool patch of sheet to rest yourself, in the moments before you drift off to sleep.
How do you create a home that resets your body when you walk into it?