Your space is a reflection of your identity – the jasmine candle at its wick’s end, the crumpled up Thai food receipt on the floor, that poster of the Red Hot Chili Peppers holding their sock-covered members – it’s part of who you are. So, if stress levels are high and sunshine levels are low, it’s only natural for your room to go a bit askew too.
Maintaining health through interacting with healthy environments, or personal environmental health, is so important. While college may mean less-than-ideal living circumstances and high-stress academic and social situations, your bedroom becomes your temple, and should be treated as such. According to the University of Minnesota’s Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing initiative, we need to “make our personal space a refuge, a place to truly escape stress and the consequences of stress.”
During my university career I’ve adopted a personal variation of feng shui to promote harmony in my space. It doesn’t revolve around the five elements, but the five senses: sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. Using this as a foundation, these are my tips to transform spaces into ones that positively influence dispositions.
The big one. First off, what do you need to see? Light. Always open your blinds in the daytime regardless of weather – according to a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology study, people have higher energy levels in natural light than in artificial light (and it reduces your EWEB bill). For the evening, I have about 10 candles each with mood-specific scents and twinkling lights above my bed to encourage a sense of warmth… if only I had a Jacuzzi too.
Next, decorate with items that bring you joy, like the great Marie Kondo says. Whether it’s a Himalayan salt lamp, photos of loved ones, or a weird wooden cat that reminds you of home – incorporate things that speak to you. Another mood-booster is life, AKA houseplants. It may seem daunting, but that’s what succulents are for. For the green thumbs, air-purifying plants such as the Areca Palm are great for removing indoor toxins. Check out our website for tips on which houseplants are best for you.
And seriously: clear your clutter. I am currently staring at a pile of clothes on my floor and my heart rate is scaling. Take the extra few seconds to put your stuff away when getting ready and make your bed upon rising – this avoids the extra task of “clean room” on the to-do list.
Nobody likes foul smells. Don’t eat in your room and do laundry often to avoid lingering odors. As I previously mentioned, scented candles are affordable manifestations of relaxation. Diffusers are also aromatic tools, which heat essential oils until they evaporate into the air. Lavender and peppermint are my go-to oils when winding down – I even drop some onto my pillows before bed.
I love music – my record player and stereo system are my beacons of peace in my room. For my roommate, it’s her noisemaker. Essentially, any sort of speaker to play soul-soothing sounds can be hugely beneficial when improving your mindset. On the flip side, if you’re into silence, hello earplugs.
We all know that person who cranks the temperature even when it’s 75 outside, but apparently it’s healthier to sleep in cooler temperatures. This way you can also induce calmness with fluffy pillows and soft blankets.
This one may be the least applicable, but perhaps you have a snack stash. I keep my tea collection in my room and have a pot in the morning or before bed to calm the mind. Yum.
Being in control of a space allows you to feel more in control in other aspects of your life too. If you want more guidance on how to transform your room into a healing environment, take the personal environment quiz on Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing’s website – it deciphers the wellbeing of your environment and provides suggestions on how to improve it. We all understand the rage of being cooped up in a dingy, stuffy university building all day, so don’t let that be the case when you get home!