At Alo House, we put great care and consideration into the amenities we provide for our clients. Guests at our treatment center enjoy beautiful beaches, guided meditation, housekeeping, gourmet cooking, hiking, and more. In all aspects of treatment, it is our goal to show those in recovery that there is abundant life outside of drugs and alcohol.
While we believe that having a calm and soothing environment during the first phases of recovery is crucial, we also understand its importance as you continue your recovery. In fact, studies show that aesthetics, atmosphere, and interior design have the power to directly affect our happiness. Want to work on improving your environment but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some ways to create a healthy space that will help you thrive as you continue your journey!
1. Eliminate clutter. A disorganized space saturates the brain with excessive stimuli, overwhelming our senses with unnecessary information. The presence of clutter creates anxiety, stress, and distraction, and given that creativity tends to thrive in open spaces where the imagination can roam, a messy room also inhibits our productivity. For those of us who don’t naturally stay organized, de-cluttering can feel like an overwhelming and often emotional task. But just because it doesn’t come without effort doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Here are a few tips for tackling a space that is bursting at the seams:
- Ask a friend for help. A second set of eyes can be the difference between clinging on to something unnecessary and gracefully saying goodbye. Also, another opinion may provide new ideas on how to store items that are occupying too much space. Make the activity a little more enjoyable for you both by creating a custom playlist and providing plenty of snacks!
- Be discerning. Ask yourself the last time you used an item. If it’s been over a year, it might be time to let it go. If you have items you are unsure about, put them in a labeled storage box. Include the date so the next time you de-clutter you will know exactly how long it’s been since you’ve used any of the items inside.
- Create concealed storage. We know shelves tend to accumulate more than just colorful books and sentimental knick-knacks. If yours are overrun with items that aren’t intended for display, incorporate decorative boxes or baskets into your décor to tuck away unsightly necessities. If you are in need of new furniture, consider purchasing pieces that have built-in storage, like a coffee table or side table with drawers and cabinets. This will create a more streamlined look and help keep you organized.
2. Establish “zones”. This is key when it comes to creating a space where you can feel creative and productive. We know it can be a challenge to make a small space functional, but having designated areas for specific tasks will make all the difference. If you do work from home, create an office corner. If your bed and living space share a room, introduce a curtain or folding screen to keep them separate. Practicing this will eliminate distractions, keeping you efficient, imaginative, and on task. In addition to task-based zones, create a happy zone. Whether it be a shelf with some of your favorite things, a reading nook, or a designated meditation area, it is important to have a place where you can retreat and re-centre.
3. Go green. Introducing houseplants to your environment is another necessity. Aside from providing an element of nature and creating a sense of responsibility, they provide all the following health benefits:
- Increase oxygen levels. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, therefore increasing oxygen levels in the surrounding air. While many houseplants do the opposite at night, there are a few that continue releasing oxygen after the sun goes down, such as orchids and succulents. Consider placing these in your bedroom to increase oxygen levels while you sleep.
- Encourage a healthy atmosphere. Houseplants emit moisture into the air creating a more humid environment. Studies show that indoor plants decrease the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. Additionally, research shows that the presence of houseplants speeds recovery in hospital settings. Patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, experience lower heart rates and blood pressure, and are less fatigued and anxious. Houseplants in office settings showed similar results. Recent studies show employees working in environments with plants experienced less fatigue and sickness.
- Improve attentiveness. A recent study showed that university student’s focus improved by 70% when in a lecture hall containing plants. Not only that, attendance rates also improved.
- Cleanse the environment. It has been proven that plants remove toxins, known as volatile organic compounds, from the air. Research shows that plants purify the air by removing 87% of VOCs in 24 hours by pulling contaminants, such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, into soil and converting them to food, keeping the air we breathe clean.
3. Reduce electronic visual distractions. Keep the screens in your space to a minimum and conceal them when not in use. Consider putting a television inside a cabinet or behind a decorative screen. Make sure to keep cords and wires concealed to keep your space visually de-cluttered. Even the smallest changes can make a big difference!
4. Choose healthy hues. Did you know the colors you use to decorate your home will benefit your recovery? Cool colors, such as soft blues and greens, encourage calm, relaxation, and tranquility, but too many cool tones can elicit feelings of sadness. The solution? Dress your home with warm neutrals such as cream, beige, and warm gray accented with textiles and paint colors in oceanic hues. Wood furniture is another great option to accent neutral tones and pump up the warmth in your space while bringing in an element of nature. Really want go all the way with comfort? Add a plush rug in an earthly tone or subtle pattern. You’ll feel at ease in no time.
5. Use a chemical-free cleaning supplies. Evidence suggests that exposure to harmful chemicals in everyday cleaning products can impair brain function and increase the risk of depression. (Yikes!) To keep a clean, healthy home while protecting your mind and body, use natural cleaning products. There are many DIY solutions such as using baking soda to clean the oven, utilizing lemons and other citrus to promote freshness, and spritzing vinegar to remove stubborn scents (see some more ideas here). If you don’t have the time or patience to make your own cleaning products, there are a lot of natural brands you can purchase that will keep your place sparkling and free of damaging chemicals, such as Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s.
6. Cleanse the air naturally. One of the most passive ways to create a healthy, zen environment is to use a Himalayan Salt Lamp. Not only do these make a lovely decorative accent, they also have countless health benefits including mood elevation, increased energy, improved concentration, and better sleep. Why? Because salt lamps have a negative ionic charge which cleanses the air as they attract foreign particles and contaminants, reducing dust, pollen, and other allergens.
7. Practice aromatherapy. Another effective way to promote relaxation, mood elevation, and overall health is to use an oil diffuser. Essential oils have been used in aromatherapy healing for hundreds of years. A simple way to take advantage of their benefits is by using an oil diffuser. Diffuse peppermint oil to improve concentration or lavender oil for relaxation. Eucalyptus is a powerful purifier while cypress boosts confidence. With a little research on what type of oil is best for your environment, you can create an aromatic space of tranquility catered to your specific needs.
8. Play mood music. Keep playlists on hand that cater to a variety of moods. Feeling energetic? Choose some upbeat tracks. Need some motivation? Press play on something that’ll pump you up. Want to relax? Something soft and acoustic may be perfect. Whatever your disposition is, you’ll find an accompanying playlist in the browse tab on Spotify. With hundreds to choose from, you can easily find a curated soundtrack to complement any mood.
9. Care for and protect your space. The ultimate way to create a safe, healthy, and healing environment is to consider your home a personal sanctuary. Take responsibility for maintaining an organized and clutter-free home. Return things to their designated places, clean up after yourself, and use each part of your space for it’s intended purpose. Welcome guests with positive energies who will also protect your sanctuary and treat it as if it were their own. Remember: If you put effort into caring for your space, your space will also care for you.
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