Have you noticed that the state of your space can ebb and flow with the state of your mental health?
I'm in my mid 30's. I've read many a self help book but honestly, I've struggled with keeping my home tidy.
Today I have 3 little tidbits I've learnt about myself, which may or may not ring some familiar bells or even provide a sparkling dose of inspiration whilst in lockdown.
In short they are:
1) Keep up with your mental health routine.
2) Ensure you don't have some kind of stigma which is limiting you from cleaning.
3) Feng Shui
In the Northern Hemisphere right now it's Spring.
1. I'm sure you've all heard of #Springcleaning. Right now all around the world charity shops are inundated with people's discards as we all go Marie Kondo on our homes under the regime of lockdown.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we're done with the joy of Summer. The throngs of BBQs celebrating and enjoying our outdoors time have given way to early nights and colder days.
Our festive season and extra time outside enjoying the warmth dumps all our home upkeep out the door and we lounge around basking outdoors in the last glows of balmy summer, evening sun.
But what does that mean for the inside of our homes?
Unlike the Northern Hemisphere, I've noticed that it's not so important to ensure that we have a beautiful and tidy home. I'm writing this from my 4th or something?? week of quarantine and I'm experiencing and (re-)realising more than ever, that space and how we use our space is paramount to how we operate on a daily level and how we feel too.
After living for 4.5 years in Denmark, it sunk in, on my return just how much us outside-loving Aussies, fail to do simple things on the regular to ensure our homes are comfy on the inside.
For example Danes eat a lot more at home. If you make a new friend, an Aussie would be 80% likely to eat out at a restaurant with a new acquaintance. It's pretty unlikely you'd invite someone you didn't know very well to dine in your home. In Denmark dining out somewhere decent is expensive so most people eat at home. Their home is truly their castle. Plus, it's more #Hygge. Hygge is the Danish buzz word that basically translates to cosy. But you can have a 'cosy' time or even make 'cosy', and just how you make 'cosy' involves some kind of craft, home made food, a candle and great interiors. It can be alone but more company mostly makes more 'hygge'.
I tried telling this to a close friend who's a generation older than me. She protested that she thought we Aussies were very house proud and clean. It's not about that I replied. Aussies, I'm sure are very clean - it's more about the small details within the home and the decor that make all the difference. "Danes always make sure there's handmade bread and knicknacks on the shelves. It's the constant candle burning. It's the way that they regularly air out their homes, bringing new air, new creativity and fresh energy into the home." I protested. They frequently air out their doonas or change the pillows on their sofas to bring a new vibe to their space. It's all these small things that we just miss out on in Australia because we spend a lot of time at cafes, doing sport or watching TV instead of just being.
Another thing is that it's a no-go to bring technology to a space. That speaks volumes I think.
2. Making sure you're mentally on top
Over the years with my own mental health issues, I've noticed that simple things like leaving dirty dishes, not making the bed in the morning and leaving clutter unattended to has, in hindsight, been a huge red flag that I wasn't happy. During many of those times I was either partying too much, not coping with motherhood or just not happy in my relationship. Things needed to change. I'm not saying I'm perfect now, but I can honestly say that when things in my home were (or start to) get a little out of control, I find that I'm struggling on the inside too. It's time to stop, take check and get busy cleaning.
After ensuring I get enough rest, enough water and some good sustenance in me. I'll choose a room and dust it down, scrub marks off the walls and make sure the skirtings are clean. I'll go through drawers, chuck out weird bits and bobs that aren't serving me and get rid of old clothes, fix broken things and it just brings such a change of mood to the place.
Small things like ensuring I know what I'm doing for the following day and organising my diary also help. Just being organised brings so much clarity to the next day.
It's that small frustration of not being able to find things in the morning, having to re-iron clothes that have been crumpled in an overpacked cupboard or not finding that lipstick you wanted to wear can take minutes from your morning routine and also bring you into a state of mental disorder. The panic of feeling you'll be late. The frustration of having to look for your partner or child's belongings... it's all bound to raise the stress levels a tad.
Be zen in your home and zen in your heart.
You got issues? Grab the tissues.
So I hated the washing up. For a long time I absolutely despised it. I couldn't work out why I got into an absolute rage every time I needed to wash up.
I did an RTT session on myself and worked out that I had an issue with my partner surrounding cleaning and in particular washing up. It represented something that had gone really wrong between us early in our relationship. His expectations and mine had clashed and I was feeling extreme anger toward the dishes.
It was weird. Anyway, I sorted myself out and decided to feel joy each time I did them. I chose an uplifting podcast, or audiobook and felt like it was a retreat away from the world. Now I love doing them and it feels great once they are done. Moral of the story. Sometimes housework can harbour issues we just aren't aware of. It's important to make sure you're on top of your own feelings and sentiments.
Make sure there's an even distribution of load in your home. Ensure everyones happy. Ensure everyone is supporting each other. Many hands make light work. Housework is something that even the kids should get involved with. Getting my son involved and inspired to do chores is something I'm also working on and trying to make it inspiring. It's a work in progress but it's slowly evolving and I can see him taking pride in his own room, his cleaning and his space more and more.
3. Feng Shui
I love #FengShui. I'm not a master or anything, but whenever I hear or see something about it, I just love it because it makes sense. It makes a whole bunch of sense. It's like #MarieKondo on steroids.
So here's a little tip for all those playing at home.
The entrance to our home is like the place where we manifest fortune and money. If it is a mess there, try and clean it up. Have it organised. I personally keep shoes in my entry which is a perpetual nightmare to keep tidy but I try.
Also make sure you have something gold and shiny to symbolise and attract cash coming in the door. Have you ever wondered what those little waving gold cats were doing at the front of Chinese shops? They are good fortune cats waving and bringing in the dollars and good luck. So make sure you have something gold and shiny to symbolise and attract cash coming in the door.
Another one is to watch the position of your couch. Make sure you can see the entry points. If your back is facing the entry, you will feel unsettled when you are meant to be relaxing. So sit back and enjoy a new view.
A final one is - if you are having trouble sleeping check that there isn't a mirror or TV directly opposite you. It might be causing you trouble in the night time. Some believe that as your subconscious rises to explore when you sleep it can get disturbed if it sees a mirror or TV directly opposite.
If you're feeling a bit stagnant in these inside-oriented times, try a bit of rearranging. It does wonders for the soul!