How much time do you spend in your home? Hours every day, at least. Some of us spend more time at home than others, but no matter how busy your life is there’s no denying that your home is somewhere you’re always happy to come back to. Or at least, it should be.
For so many people though, this isn’t the case. And your relationship with your home can have a massive impact on your mental health. Take me, for example.
Five years ago I lived in what can only be described as the real estate manifestation of sadness. It was an old house. The heavy smell of damp hung in the air. The walls were covered in peeling paper that was stained and aging. Carpet – I can’t even imagine what must have been growing inside of that carpet – covered every floor of every room, including the kitchen and bathroom! Everything about the house was sad, dying, lonely, neglected. And that’s exactly how it made me feel.
I hated it so much that I’d spend most weekends at my Mum’s house, packing up weekend bags for Rosie and I and heading straight over to hers as soon as she was home from work on a Friday. And we weren’t getting on at that time. But I needed to get away from my home so much that I didn’t care. I’d have gone anywhere to get away from it.
Fast forward five years to today, and my relationship with my home couldn’t be more different. I live in a tiny little apartment that’s very tight for space, but it’s home to me. There isn’t as much natural light as I’d like, the kitchen is ridiculously tiny (it’s like a Sylvanian Families kitchen), my bedroom is a really awkward shape and sure, there are lots of things I’d change about it if I could. But I’ve never loved living anywhere more. And my mental health has never been better.
But what does all of this have to do with self care? Well I define self care as the practices we cultivate for the promotion of our own wellness. I’ve written about self care so many times here, but what I always come back to every time is that self care is how you show yourself love. It’s how you mind yourself. It’s how you give yourself what you need. And I believe that creating a home that boosts your mental health is one of the best ways to do that.
Now, I’m not going so far as to say that a change of rental can cure depression. Far from it. Moving is tough on the mind and it’s expensive and exhausting and pretty terrible. Plus, mental illness runs far too deep to be solved by buying things. But having a home that feeds your soul, calms your mind and gives you a warm cuddle when you walk in the door can make a huge difference to your energy levels and how you feel.
For me, this has been a work in progress. I read a book while I was in therapy about creating a home that helps you, not hinders you, and I’ve been working towards that ever since. I’ve still got a way to go towards really realizing this goal, but I’m exceptionally pleased with what I’ve done so far, especially given that I’m in a rental.
Everyone’s different and we all respond to different things in different ways, of course. So, what’s my idea of a dream home might bore you to tears and vice versa. But for me, I want to live in a space that’s bright, spacious, uncluttered, simple and sophisticated. I want to minimize color with a view to minimizing distraction and visual noise. Basically, I want it to be a visual representation of my mind – clear, clean and connected.
This might seem like a very shallow approach to self care, but I really believe that there’s more substance to it than people might think. I need my home to act as my very own little slice of paradise – a place where I can find quiet and calm away from the world – and so do you. Your home should feel like you. It should be your favorite place, the source of your comfort and connection. And if it isn’t, it’s time to focus on how you can create the home that you deserve.