Living today means dealing with a lot of anxiety and stress. Not everyone works a strict 9-to-5; even if you’re one of those fortunate few, are you able to mentally clock out at the end of your shift?
Like most people, your mind is probably buzzing with thoughts of the day’s events, and worries about the future, even while you’re at home. But the house is supposed to be our personal space to recharge and reconnect with what makes us happy.
When emails, social media, and various apps keep you connected 24/7, the presence of the outside world becomes intrusive. You lose the therapeutic benefits of being at home.
Studies show that people can deal with these adverse effects by making an effort to stay in the moment. And since we spend a lot of time at home, here’s how you can improve your living space to increase your sense of presence.
Connect with nature
Human beings are wired to enjoy the natural environment. Just take a look at any child in the park; you don’t get that sort of joy when you’re surrounded by concrete and steel.
But not everyone can drop by a local green space each day. Unless you literally walk through a park on your way to and from the office, you’re probably too busy for that to become a daily habit. The practical solution is to find a way to connect with nature at home.
It can be as simple as taking a sandwich home for dinner and eating al fresco under a tree in your yard. Or it could be a more involved activity like gardening. Apartment dwellers can take care of an indoor plant instead. And everyone can benefit from allowing more sunlight into their homes.
Re-introduce nature to your home, and you’ll get the chance to connect with it every day. It will improve the quality of your rest and heighten your powers of concentration.
Make space for the present
If you’re making an effort to stay in the moment, you’ll probably engage in different kinds of mindfulness exercises. Many people do this in the bedroom, where they are more relaxed. But they also tend to keep devices in the same area.
It’s hard to be mindful when your phone could disrupt you anytime with a call or notification. Or when you’ve got something playing on your laptop or the TV in the background. Whether it’s an essential body scan or breathing focus, or something more advanced, like yoga, you’ll be able to maximize the benefits by making space for it in your home.
On a related note, our homes usually make it challenging to stay in the moment because they are filled with distractions and possessions. When you’re surrounded with all these things from room to room, your senses can’t focus on any one thing.
Photographers take advantage of minimalism to engage the viewer’s senses when they convert their photos to black-and-white. By subtracting all that noisy, distracting color information, they enhance your ability to focus on the subject.
Marie Kondo uses a similar principle in her practice of tidying up. She recommends putting on blinders so that you aren’t distracted by objects that induce nostalgia. This allows you to focus on the task at hand.
However you choose to go about removing distractions and decluttering your home, what matters most is the practical minimalism. Whatever remains should intentionally bring joy and heighten your experience of living in this environment.
Balance your time
Working with material objects can help to transform your environment. The home becomes more conducive to your sense of presence. But the challenges we face also have a time-based component.
We can dwell too much on particular moments from the past or obsess about things in the future over which we exert no control. The present gets squeezed out; we give minimal attention to what we’re doing around the house.
Organizing your home is an opportunity to distribute your workload and give balance to the past, present, and future. Meditate in the evening to be thankful for small, under-appreciated things in the past, and be mentally prepared for the next day.
Arrange the things you’ll need when you wake up, from the clothes you’ll wear to breakfast preparation, packed meals, and your car keys. Create rituals to facilitate your day so that you don’t start each morning scrambling to make deadlines and recall what needs to get done.
When you organize your home in this way, it will become an environment that helps you to focus on the present. Instead of posing further distractions, it will be conducive to productivity and better habit formation.