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Mind & Body

How to make your home healthier

Feeling stressed, anxious, tired, or simply want to improve your surroundings? Making small changes to your home can improve your happiness and wellbeing – here’s how

Beauty
Breathe deep
Greenery can help cleanse the air and clear the mind

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.

Look outside

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.

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