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Whilst mess and being disorganised are not my main triggers for anxiety, walking into a messy kitchen in the morning with dishes piled high and crumbs all over the counter top immediately sets my mood badly for the day. It sounds silly, but I know some of you will relate to this. There are however, some small things I do to correct this straight away if I can. Here are five ways to freshen your environment and calm your anxiety.
Do a quick tidy
The most obvious way to tackle a messy environment is to tidy, but that can sometimes be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling anxious or low. Try spending five minutes doing a very quick tidy of the room or rooms that are bothering you. You might even set a timer or put a short YouTube video on.
All you have to do is focus for that short time period. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done. When I see a kitchen with tidy work tops and clean dishes on the drying rack or a coffee table that no longer has five empty glasses on it, I immediately feel a lot calmer and able to handle my day.
Wipe down surfaces
The natural step after a quick tidy is a quick clean. As I mentioned before, I hate seeing my work top covered in crumbs and something as simple as seeing my bathroom sink covered in the usual toothpaste and splash marks can make my anxiety a lot worse. Grab an anti-bacterial wipe, some cleaning spray or some Zoflora, whichever is your go to, and do the quickest wipe round.
As with the tidying, you don’t need to spend a long time on this to see a difference. You’re not doing a deep clean of the house. You just want to clean the surfaces that you return to throughout the day so that when you see them you feel relaxed instead of stressed out.
Light a candle
Or in my case…fill the entire house with candles. There is just something about the cosy light and the lovely scent from a candle that makes my home a better place. The Danish call it hygge. A word that doesn’t having a meaning, but more of a feeling. The warm comfort that you feel when you’re relaxed and in your happy place. There is a fantastic book about the concept which is relaxing to read in itself.
Whether it’s tall candles on your dining table which you surround with friends and family or your one favourite three wick that takes pride of place in your living room, I love that something so simple can change a space so much. If you’re not a fan of bare flames, try scent diffuses instead. I have one in my bathroom and bedroom as I don’t like leaving candles alone upstairs and they genuinely lift my mood every time I smell them.
Open the windows
I’ve spoken about it before in one of my Sunday Comforts. Fresh air. It makes such a difference to me on a daily basis. On my lowest of days I will sometimes just stand at the window and take deep breathes of fresh air. In the summer months I like to throw all the windows open and let a breeze run through the house. As it gets colder I leave them open for a short time in the mornings.
It feels like your blowing away the cobwebs in your environment and it can have the same impact on your mood!
Play something familiar in the background
This one might sound a little bit strange, but hear me out. Once my environment is calm and clean, it’s my go to final step on bad mental health days. When I’m working away I like to have one of those artificial fires crackling away on the TV. When I’m at my lowest, nothing comforts me more than hiding under a blanket and watching 101 Dalmatians. The original from the 1960s of course. Don’t ask me why.
Whether it’s the familiar illustrations or the fact that it’s set at snowy winter time ending with a Christmas scene (my favourite time of year), it calms me down without fail. Look for a film, a TV show or even some music that has the same effect on you. A familiar sound in the background can have a very positive effect on your brain. Instead of trying to take in something new, it is one less thing to think about and will encourage calm.
It often amazes me just how much of an impact my environment can have on how I’m feeling. Even on my worst days I try to make these small improvements to ensure there are now unnecessary triggers around me. Try a couple and let me know if they help!