So, how are you supposed to zen out at the end of the day when the space you used to reserve for those activities has suddenly become where you’re spending every minute?
Home is your sanctuary, but it’s typically given that status because it’s an escape from the outside world. When you’re required to be inside all day, every day? That changes things a little. The squeaky floorboard you used to think of as charming is starting to get on your nerves real fast. The upstairs neighbor you never realized listened to polka music all day because you weren’t home to hear it is…still listening to polka music all day. The bed you used to think of fondly and fall into with a delighted sigh at the end of the day is now serving as your office/movie theater/dinner spot/bar for virtual drinks with friends. So how are you supposed to zen out at the end of the day when the space you used to reserve for those activities has suddenly become where you’re spending every minute of every day?
Being at home all the time means it’s incredibly tough to separate the different parts of your life, something that used to be easy because everything was happening in different places. Now? You’re working, relaxing and socializing all in the same place. While this means it’s easy to mix them all together, it’s best not to: without those boundaries, you’re quickly going to lose the idea of “a place to come home to,” even when this is all over and we’re allowed back out into the world.
So I’d like to suggest the idea of a “zen den,” a few tweaks that can help keep the different parts of your life separate under one roof while also making space for you to actually relax, tune out (or tune in) when you need to. If you’re finding the need for more balance, harmony and relaxation in your life lately, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to do it.
Clearly define how and why you’re using space.
This is a lot easier said than done, especially if you’re living in a small apartment, but as much as possible, reserve certain spaces for specific activities. If you spend all day working from bed, your brain is going to associate your bed as a place of work, not one of sleep and relaxation. Keep anything that isn’t related to sleep and other bed-based activities out of the room, full stop. Same goes for your couch and/or kitchen table. If you can swing it, find a way to set up a spot that is only for work: sit down when the workday starts, get up when the workday ends, and don’t revisit it until you need to log on again.
Keep things simple.
Seriously. You want your space to reflect the reason you’re using it, so even if you thrive on clutter, it’s important to have a dedicated space in your home where things are clean, calm and simple. I’m not suggesting you redecorate mid-quarantine, but if possible, strip away the superfluous stuff. If you can’t see the top of your nightstand because there’s so much stuff on top, clear it off. Keep your clothes in the closet/drawers, not strewn across the foot of your bed. Opt for natural light when possible over harsh fluorescents. Avoiding excess will allow your mind to calm without being distracted by its surroundings.
Lean into natural scents.
If you can’t go outside, bring nature indoors. Not only will a DIY spray, essential oils or candles will help infuse your (maybe musty) room with fresh scents, an aromatherapy practice can work wonders on calming a racing mind and helping you relax. With notes of eucalyptus, cedar and lemon, Free People’s Eucalyptus + Siberian Pine Candle is an ideal blend for right now. Start a practice of lighting the candle every night when it’s time to wind down and see how transformative a few deep inhales can be: eucalyptus is known to enhance feelings of relaxation and soothe nervous tension with it’s invigorating smell, while cedar is warming, relaxing, peaceful and will help you shut your mind off so you can drift into blissful, deep sleep.
Make baths a habit.
As someone who hated baths for most of her adult life, let me be the first to tell you how important they’ve become to me over the last few weeks. Similarly to the candle-lighting practice mentioned above, a nightly bath has become not just something to look forward to as a way to relax, but it also helps mark the end of another day, meaning we’re one day closer to resuming our lives as we knew them.
A bath also serves as dedicated alone time, and before you say, “wait, haven’t I just spent the entire day alone?” let me clarify that this is different. Yes, even if you’ve been inside and alone, you’re still “with” other people, whether it’s co-workers, family and friends, or your TV remote. But a bath is alone time in the truest sense of the phrase: it’s just you, no distractions. It’s time off every day to process your thoughts and emotions, mindfully check in on what’s happening with you, and make space for self-care that might otherwise be neglected. You can even up the ante with a stress-dissolving bath soak, like the Dipsea Soak from Bathing Culture, which combines sea salt, sea clay and CBD to relax, detox and calm you down at the end of the day.