Have you ever had one of those long, stressful days in which you’ve managed to hold it together all day at work, but then you get home and something as trivial as a rogue dirty dish sends you off the rails?
Okay, maybe that’s just me. But when I’m already high-strung, little things like this can send me into an absolute rage. However, I’ve learned it’s also the little things around my home that can talk me off the ledge.
Your home should be your stress-free retreat — a sanctuary from the callous and chaotic outside world. You should feel at peace immediately upon crossing the threshold into your safe space. And if not, my poor dears, here are a few super simple home-improvement hacks to make your home the haven it should be.
Clean the slate (literally)
I’m not a neat freak by any means. (I’ve got kids, so I practically dwell in mess and mania.) But one of my most obsessive quirks is leaving a clean home when I go away for an extended period of time or whenever I foresee a tough day at work. There’s something about returning to a clean orderly house that makes you glad to be back.
This theory also has scientific research to support it. Studies connect clutter and uncleanliness with high incidents of depression while those who keep a tidy home report more feelings of happiness.
Find your true colors
Maybe you’ve watched enough HDTV to know certain wall colors have a deeper purpose beyond their aesthetic value. The right color can help drive your emotions. For example, blues can be calming whereas shades of yellow can be energizing. While you can consult a number of color psychology charts, the color to go with is likely the color you connect with the most.
But I did say easy hacks, so by no means am I asking you to head off to your nearest hardware store with your “don’t worry, be happy” paint swatches. You can also use vibrant colored accessories, such as paintings, lamps, throws and pillows to bring cheer to your room(s).
Put up familiar faces
Studies show a smiling face is contagious and can boost your mood. So, this tip is pretty simple. Position pictures of your smiling loved ones in high-traffic locations around your home.
I personally have a giant painting of a smiling boy who greets me at the bottom of the steps. Sometimes, I admit, I’m in a rush and I overlook him. But most days, my eyes meet his cheerful gaze, and by some sort of osmosis, the painting puts a little more pep into my step.
Strike a chord
How many times have you lost yourself in the feel-good memory of an old favorite song when it randomly hits the airwaves?
Music might already be your go-to pick-me-up. But if not, cue up a “welcome home” playlist of some of your favorite energy-pulsing tunes. If you’re one of the techy folks, set it to play through voice command as soon as you announce your arrival.
But try not to overstimulate yourself. For a stress-free time, try leaving the TV off for a few minutes after arrival if you can help it. Use the music alone to center yourself while you unwind before you commit yourself to the next pressing task, whether it’s dinner, homework, emails, or minecrafting.
Set the mood light
Whether it’s the winter season with its sparse daylight hours and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or just office life under those artificial bulbs, when our exposure to natural light is limited, instances of depression grow.
To get you through the darkness, invest in a little light therapy. Try out some lamps or light boxes in your favorite rooms. Or, if you’re crafty, try rearranging your mirrors to help optimize the lighting in certain rooms. For something even simpler, try to be conscious about opening your shades to fill your home with natural sunlight whenever possible.
Sadly, taking our worries home may always be an inevitable evil. But with some small home-improvement efforts, your space can be the stress-free oasis that you deserve.
Nina Reeder is a journalist and media manager, who has contributed to outlets such as Ebony, AOL.com, Marriott Hotels, and more. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie, but also has passions for health/wellness (which doesn’t always work out well). You can follow her on Instagram here.