Non-toxic lifestyle expert Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of Detox Your Home for Healing Spaces, explains how to make your home a healthier and happier space to be in with five key steps…
Embrace plant power
From pollen and gasses such as carbon monoxide to household cleaning sprays and pesticides, what you breathe in at home is hugely important. A study from NASA found certain plants – including chrysanthemum, English ivy and peace lily – help purify air and reduce common indoor toxins such as paint and cleaning chemicals. Plus, they release oxygen throughout the night (unlike most other plants, which release carbon dioxide at night), making them ideal bedroom plants.
Scent with pine
While an aromatic bouquet of jasmine and lilies may lift your spirits, pine should be your go-to household fragrance. Pine trees are loaded with health-enhancing benefits and scenting your home with their essential oil has been proven to improve energy, well-being, sleep, immune function, cardiovascular health and the parasympathetic (rest-and-recover) response.
Views of nature, landscapes or the sky have a positive effect on mood, attention and even recovery from illness – a Stanford University study showed hospital patients with tree views had a speedier recovery than patients whose rooms faced walls. So, when you can’t get outdoors, at least look outside, particularly if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Add some salt
Himalayan salt lamps and candle holders emit a natural warm red glow that provides a signal to the body that it’s time to wind down, inducing a deeper and more restful night’s sleep without interfering with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Plus, the negative ions they release can increase levels of serotonin (the feel-good hormone), calm allergies and boost blood flow.
Smudge your space
Traditionally, this ancient ceremonial ritual is practiced by indigenous people in South America, Canada and America, who burn sacred herbs and medicines to cleanse a space or a person. Now, particularly in the West, the ritual has expanded beyond its cultural origins to be performed when a home or a space is thought to have negative energy. Exactly what you burn is hugely significant. Sage is said to bring clarity and wisdom; cedar enhances positive feelings and emotions; sweetgrass is a symbol of kindness; copal, a tree resin, is thought to assist meditation and increase peace of mind; while palo santo – from a tree that grows in South America – helps you to feel grounded and more creative. Light a small bundle of your chosen herbs with a match or lighter and walk through your home, allowing the smoke to reach every corner of every room. Put a clay or ceramic bowl under your smoking bundle to catch any falling embers and open your windows so the negatives you are releasing have an escape route.