Our physical environments can play a major role in our feelings and comfort. This is especially true for seniors or others who spend a great deal of time at home due to illness, infirmity or other reasons.
The ancient art of feng shui (pronounced FUNG-SHWAY) has been shown to create a soothing environment that radiates positive energy. Plus, it can be a fun way to more deliberately assemble or decorate your home.
The basic principles of feng shui are not difficult to apply in any home. Follow these simple tips to transform a room or two in your home into a calmer, more soothing space:
1. Bring the outdoors inside
According to the principles of feng shui, nature can ease stress and anxiety. And medical research backs that up!
In the bedroom, place the bed so your loved one can see the yard or garden. Bring in healthy plants, and don’t forget to tend to them so they thrive. Choosing low-maintenance plants like bamboo, pothos, aloe, and spider plants not only brings some nature inside, but they can also purify the air.
Fresh flowers are another option. Just be sure to remove them when they begin to wilt. Have some empty wall space at your disposal? Beautiful artwork that depicts nature can stand in for the real thing and have a similar effect.
2. Add some color to the space
Rooms that are predominantly white or grey can feel cold and sterile. Don’t want to repaint? Hang a colorful quilt or rug on the wall, or buy some color-rich throw pillows. Even a vibrant throw added to the back of a chair can add a pop of color and transform the “feel” of a room.
It’s not necessary, and can even be detrimental, to redecorate a whole bedroom with intense hues. The principle of feng shui (and medical research) suggests that bright colors can be over-stimulating and interfere with sleep.
3. Let the sun shine in
Allow as much natural light into the room as possible. That might mean removing heavy or dark curtains and replacing them with airier ones, or just adding tie-backs to let the light shine in during the day. In the bedroom, add blackout shades if needed to nurture optimal sleep conditions.
If there’s one room in the house that gets the most light, make that room the center of daytime activities, if possible.
4. Eliminate clutter
According to feng shui, piles of paper, laundry and other clutter impedes the flow of fresh, invigorating energy. Keep the bed, dresser, side table and chairs free of stuff.
Find ways to discreetly but conveniently stash items like pill bottles. Dedicate a place for new mail and bills, and create a filing system for paperwork that you need to keep.
If your resources are limited, try sitting in the spot where your loved one spends most of the day. Then, clear away any clutter from those lines of sight.
5. Limit TV
Feng shui experts believe that electromagnetic imbalances caused by televisions can intererfere with restful sleep. Research from sleep experts also supports this notion, and the experts advise keeping bedrooms as screen-free as possible.
Of course, television may be an important source of entertainment for someone who’s ill or housebound, so consider a compromise: Put the TV on a wheeled stand so it can easily be moved out of sight or, as some feng shui practitioners suggest, cover it with a blue cloth.
6. Fill the home with scent
Our sense of smell has powerful abilities to relax us, conjure up memories and help us feel better. Lavender is considered particularly soothing, while citrus, juniper and basil are more energizing scents that work well in the kitchen.
Spritz pillows and bed linens with a scented spray or use an aromatherapy diffuser with essential oil to disperse soothing scents throughout the room. Then sit back and take a deep breath yourself: The efforts you make to create a comfortable space for your loved one will pay off for you, too.