Decluttering and rejuvenating our living spaces can have a profound effect on our health and wellbeing. Here’s how to ensure your space is cool, calm and collected – just like you
It may be a cliché, but the advent of spring really does go hand-in-hand with a renewed interest in your home. In fact, the very act of spring cleaning has become almost ritualised in the UK – at this time of year adverts promoting disinfectants seem two a penny and everyone from your next door neighbour to the cashier at the supermarket is talking about having a throwing out session. And perhaps this is for good reason. Experts believe that our homes can suffer from all sorts of stressors and negative influences – from stagnant energy to toxin overload – and these can have an impact on the way we live our lives.
In feng shui philosophy, for example, our homes are a reflection of ourselves. If they’re cluttered and lacking order and comfort, then our inner energy will be disrupted and we’ll feel drained and tense. As Alexandra Lees, feng shui and space clearing expert and co-founder of Wu Wei Wisdom (wuweiwisdom.com), explains:
“Feng shui and space clearing principles teach that a healthy home is one where the positive qi energy is flowing calmly and smoothly around each space. Allowing fresh, vibrant energy from the external environment to enter and leave is also essential. When the energy becomes disrupted or blocked this will impact you because you are an intrinsic part of the energy of your surroundings. Your senses will detect any subtle changes and this has the potential to uplift or stagnate your creativity, inner calm, focus and wellbeing.” Luckily, there are plenty of ways we can rebalance the flow of energy and encourage a positive environment. Follow these tips below…
Declutter and tidy
This sounds obvious, but it’s vitally important. Numerous studies have linked clutter with various health issues (one by Princeton University revealed that having too much stuff can lead to mental exhaustion, while another discovered a link between high cortisol levels in females and the number of household items they owned), and if nothing else, having your rooms crowded with things is distracting.
“Untidiness, clutter and hoarding all create sluggish energy flow in the home,” Alexandra explains. “De-clutter on a room by room basis. Simplify and streamline the contents of each space by removing anything that is not used regularly or does not give you pleasure.
Then mindfully tidy and organise so that every item has a purposeful and practical location.”
Queen of decluttering Marie Kondo famously suggests that you should hold each of your items in your hands and ask yourself whether it sparks joy in you. If the answer is no, you should ceremoniously thank it and sent it on its way towards a new life. “The inside of a house or apartment after decluttering is a place where there are no unnecessary things, and our thoughts become clear,” she writes in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising. “It is the place where we appreciate all the things that support us.”
Clear sluggish energy and stale air
After the colder months of winter, when we barricade ourselves in our homes and hibernate on the sofa, our rooms can end up feeling stuffy and full of stagnant air. “Natural daylight and free-flowing, clean air will clear stale energy and bring fresh vibrant qi into your home,” Alexandra says. “Try to regularly clean windows and mirrors to maximise daylight penetration into rooms. Add brighter light-reflecting paint and extra mirrors to darker, north-facing spaces.” Open your windows wide whenever possible and use pollutant-absorbing houseplants to help remove airborne toxins, such as aloe vera and spider plants.
Sound therapy can also help with sluggish energy, says Alexandra. “Clap your hands or ring a bell, chime or singing bowl around your home. Pay attention to the corners of rooms or any darker spaces where the energy flow may be trapped,” she suggests.
Look at your layout
The layout of your home can create its own tension and block qi and even the smallest tweaks can make a big difference. Feng shui teachings suggest you should never have a bed under a window as people who sleep here can be prone to feelings of sadness, for example. You should also try to allow a clear path of energy to the front door – so remove anything blocking the way around this area.
“Make sure that beds, sofas and chairs are not positioned with their back to the door,” feng shui consultant Marianne Gordon (fengshuiwithme.com) adds. “You may not feel this consciously but in order to feel safe, we need to be in the ‘command position’ (i.e. we need to know that no one is going to come from behind and surprise us). Our amygdala, a primitive part of our brains, is conditioned to be on alert when we cannot see what is behind us and will be preparing to respond in a flight or fight mode.”
Uplift with colour
Have you ever put on a smart black dress when you have an important meeting and want to appear authoritative and confident? If so, consciously or not, you were using the principles of colour therapy to influence your mood. And, interestingly, your tonal choices for your walls, fabrics and furniture matter in the same way. “Spaces that are dark and sombre can have a depressive effect while those with excessively bright colours can overly-stimulate and agitate your mood,” Alexandra explains. Her advice is to use calming colours, such as soft blues, warm greys and dusky pinks, in rooms where you want to relax and unwind and brighten dark rooms with lighter wall tones and accents of bright, cheerful colours.
One thing to bear in mind though – don’t go overboard in the quest for matching hues. Marianne says this can result in the overuse of one element. “The five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water,” she explains. “Some people have a very strong preference for one or two of the five elements, but I believe this is detrimental to the feel of a room. As an example, many people report arguments and fights in houses where the metal presence is too high (with white, grays and metallic objects), while earthy homes (with lots of yellows, ceramics and square shapes) can be too ‘stuffy’ and the energy can become stale.” Always try to balance the five elements in every room while taking colour into consideration.
Create a sanctuary space
Finally, it’s time to ensure that you have space to relax. “A home is often a busy live-work space with competing functions and activities,” Alexandra explains. “This can create tension in the energy of your environment, so try to make at least one area a ‘sanctuary space’ for precious quiet time and relaxation. This could be your bedroom, a private bathroom or a small, discrete corner of a larger multi-purpose room. Keep your most treasured items here and play with soft, sensual lighting and fabrics to enhance the tranquil mood in this space.”
3 issues for £9.99*
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...