One of the things that can impact directly on our moods – and on which we have a lot of control – is our environment. Living in dreary, grey Ireland won’t do much to lift your mood but there are plenty of things you can do within your own four walls that can help.
I have noticed that I feel much less motivated when my house is trí-na-chéile. I feel like I can’t breathe, I feel overwhelmed and I feel lethargic and incapable when the house is a mess. The solution is so simple – sort it out! The problem is that by the time it gets bad enough for me to feel stifled by it, it feels like a problem that’s too big to tackle. The solution, I’ve found, is to tidy and sort as I go – and to get the children to pitch in and do their bit as well. I know this sounds so obvious and simple – but it is really easy to let things slide. It’s easy to let things get out of control when there are so many things of equal priority on your to-do list. But when something so simple can have such a profound effect on your mental health, it’s a good idea to train yourself to pay attention to your surroundings.
Decluttering is wonderfully therapeutic. At least twice a year, we go through every cupboard, closet and drawer and strip it of anything non-essential. It helps if you have a friend who will lend a hand with this process – other people aren’t emotionally attached to your clutter the way you are. If you haven’t worn an item of clothing for 6 months (or for two seasons, if it’s a seasonal item like a winter coat) give it to the charity shop. Books you have read and know you won’t read again deserve to be enjoyed by others – so donate or Freecycle them, too.
While your children are doubtless artistic genii, you don’t need to keep every daub they ever put on a piece of paper in their lives. Keep a sample from each school term, and one or two other exceptional/sentimental pieces. Bin the rest.
Moving furniture around – even getting rid of one or two pieces – can improve the flow of energy in your home. If you’re not constantly irritated by the placement of a particular table or stool, you’ll automatically feel a lot better when you step through your front door.
Paint your walls happy! Even in rented accommodation, it’s usually possible to broker a deal with the landlord with regard to repainting the premises. Start with the room that bothers you most, or the room where you spend most time (they’re often the same room!) and set to with rollers and tins of gentle, refreshing colours. If a re-paint really is out of the question, head to IKEA and invest in some cheap frames (they have loads) and frame pictures, paintings, postcards and even bits of fabrics to brighten your surroundings – and your mood.
I’m not suggesting that we should all aspire to make our homes museum-like in their neatness or zen-like in their minimalism or even that we should know and employ every rule of Vastu Shastri or Feng Shui, but the more you enjoy being in your surroundings, the more you’ll enjoy being in your skin.