Most of us have been trapped inside our homes for the better half of a year. It's understandable to have cabin fever or feel the need to escape. The collective mental health of the world has taken a huge beating. Now more than ever, it's important to have a dedicated part of our day to recharge our physical, mental and spiritual batteries. Self-care should be as high of a priority as that next major Zoom meeting, because when we take care of ourselves, we are better able to serve others, whether that is for work or for your family or friends.
To this end, having a specific space that invites you to unwind can do wonders for creating a habit of self-care. No matter your living arrangements and no matter your ideal self-care practices, as long as you are dedicated to making yourself a priority, you can find and build a space for yourself with a little bit of creativity.
Comfort Inside Your Own Home
I am fortunate to be able to use the spare bedroom / guestroom in my house as my own space. We don't get very many visitors (especially not right now), so the room would otherwise be wasted, unused space. Having a Murphy bed means I can use all of the floor space available, whether I am practicing yoga or crafting while listening to an audiobook or some calming music. Similarly, one of my housemates took half of our garage and built his own home gym, including padded floor mats, the equipment he needs and a large fan for air flow. This involved moving around a lot of items we had been storing there and getting creative with other organizational solutions, such as wall-mounted bike racks, but he was able to manifest the space that he wanted for himself, because he put his mind and effort into it. Check your own environment for rooms that get little to no traffic and see what you can do to transform it into your own needs.
Smaller Sections of Rooms:
If you are not able to utilize an entire room, you can still find smaller areas to dedicate to your self-care practices. Clear out a corner of your bedroom, your living room or any other space that can fit what you need, whether it is a yoga mat, a comfy chair for reading or doing your manicure, a cushion for meditating or a rack for your free weights. If necessary, opening a window and adding mirrors will often make a space feel more bright and open. No matter how big or small, it just needs to be dedicated specifically to your self-care. Having that specific space encourages you to use it for that purpose, just like adding an actual time block in your schedule makes it just as "real" and important as any other event on your calendar.
Adding Your Personal Touch:
Whatever area of the home you choose, fill it with items that not only directly serves your needs, such as your mat or chair or cushion, but also items that make it inviting overall and brings you into the mental space you need for your self-care. They can be objects that bring you joy and/or motivation, such as plants, a treasured gift or an inspirational painting. They can be objects that calm your senses, such as candles, incense or a decorative water fountain. Again, create your space mindfully and purposefully in order to emphasize its significance to your mental health.
Embracing the Wide Outdoors
For various reasons, sometimes finding a space inside is simply not possible. However, outdoor space is often overlooked and can be especially effective, because, well, nature. Remind yourself again of your dedication to making yourself a priority and put your creativity to use.
Spaces On Your Property:
The balcony, porch and patio are great places to transform into self-care spaces, because they are often relatively sheltered from the elements. While you may not be able to completely fill them out with the items and decor that you would like, you can find solutions to move some of your items indoors and outdoors as necessary, such as trays, baskets, or even racks on caster wheels. I like using cute serving trays, such as those for breakfast in bed, to move small items around, like my candle, book or journal and maybe a snack. A small but comfy cushion is a portable substitute for a chair if you need a place to sit. If you already have outdoor furniture, you can decorate them with pillows, blankets or other items that exemplify your own personality and bring you joy. Plants that are resilient to outdoor environments are also a great way to non-intrusively decorate an outdoor space.
Yards and Communal Spaces:
You can venture a little further out and find a space in your front or back yard to make your own. If you live in a more communal environment, such as an apartment complex, you can look for quiet spaces in the courtyard or the rooftop. If these options are not available to you, look to public places like parks, beaches or trails that are nearby. Because these are much more open spaces or are widely-shared with others, decorating is obviously not a priority. However, you can still bring touches of your personality as well as what you need for your mental health with a bit of minimization and, again, creativity.
Investing in Portability:
If you choose to practice self-care outside, you carry your own special space with you. If you're exercising, bring items that make you happy and excited to work out, such as your favorite water bottle or sports band for your watch. Invest in functional items that meet your needs outside, whether it is a good-quality mat bag, a comfy pair of kicks to run in or wrist/ankle weights for portable resistance. Throwing on your favorite workout clothes is also a great way to bring your own personal space with you, because it means something to you. If your self-care involves reading or journaling, invest in a good lightweight bag or backpack that invites you to venture outside and makes you happy. Noise-cancelling headphones are a wonderful way to block out the world and focus on your inner space. Inversely, bone-conduction headphones help you stay safely connected to external signals, such as the sound of cars, while still allowing you to enjoy your audio of choice. To bring in more of your senses into the experience, you can also bring a nice essential oil spray or roll-on oil to prepare your sense of smell for your self-care practice. Remember, no matter what your activity involves, one of the most important items to bring with you is sun screen, even on cloudy days!
I hope that you make yourself a priority, not just right now but always in the future. Everyone's living arrangements are different. If you have roommates or family members living with you, it may be difficult, but try to find a way to convince them of the importance for self-care, carving out some time for it every day and having a dedicated space for it. Remember that when you take care of yourself, it serves not just you but your relationship with others as well. Everyone's needs are different, and so I hope these tips have given you ideas to create your own space for your mental health, whether it is in your home or taking it with you outside.