Pandemic depression. Seasonal depression. Zoom fatigue. Political oppression. All of these factors are defining the cold season of 2020.
Winter can already be a difficult time—as the sun sets earlier and the weather gets colder, we begin to feel more alone. Less exposure to sunlight makes it harder for brain chemicals like serotonin (which makes us feel happy) to transmit information within nerves. But this winter, in particular, gives us many reasons to feel isolated, as many of us have experienced or consumed an unusual amount of tragedy. So when the country is in turmoil, you’re fatigued from work or school meetings on Zoom, the weather makes you more susceptible to sadness, and you’re living through a pandemic with no end in sight, how do you find happiness?
The first step is to acknowledge and wholeheartedly believe that feeling good is always an available option. It may seem hard, and you may not feel good at every moment even after you think you’ve “arrived” at happiness, but there are things you can do to create an environment that encourages joy, comfort, and peace.
This brings us to the second step: your space. Even when the world is not at peace (which, if it’s any consolation, it rarely is) you can find and cultivate peace in your personal world. It can be difficult to think about tackling the task of making yourself happier, but a better approach can be making an effort to create a physical space that makes it easier for you to experience joy.
Change Up Your Decor
Changing the way your physical space looks can help boost your mood. If you become too accustomed to the way your home looks, it can make your days feel monotonous and tiring. In your bedroom, you can change the position of your bed: move it to the opposite direction, put it facing sunlight or a different side of your room. Some people even find that placing their mattress on the floor helps them to sleep better.
You can do this with other pieces of furniture, like couches, dressers, TV stands, etc. Play around with where things are until you find something that feels new and comfortable. Plus, you can do this every few weeks or months, so once it feels too familiar you can change it up again.
Along with rearranging furniture, introduce new items into your decor. Small things like a new rug, art to hang up on the walls, tapestries, or posters can make a huge difference. Changing the way you approach storage can be good too: buy new shoe racks, jewelry boxes, a mini-fridge for your skincare, or change the way your clothes are organized. It can be nice to always know where everything is, but switching it up can make you feel more present in your space.
Re-engage Your Senses
Give some special attention to the sensory experience of your home. What do you smell when you first walk in? Consider buying a set of essential oils and a diffuser to fill your home with these scents. If you can have candles in your space, a candle from a Black-owned company could really transform your space.
In addition to reconfiguring your space and introducing new decorations, you can also change the sights in your home. Getting fairy LED lights or other color-changing lights is an inexpensive way to change up your environment. You may not even know it, but your eyes are tired of seeing the same light—having different or multicolored lights in your home can awaken your inner child and bring you joy.
Designate Your Space
Many people are now working from home or doing classes from home. You may find yourself doing homework on your bed or taking conference calls on your couch, and then turning on Netflix afterward to unwind. For some of us, this is the first time when our work lives and home lives are colliding. Working from home may be necessary to protect ourselves from COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean that we have no choice but to allow work to invade our daily routine.
Designate a space in your home for work or school. Challenge yourself to only log on and do work in this space, so that when you’re done you can move into a different space (somewhere you spend more of your free time) to feel “home” again. This can be helpful for your brain to understand when it’s time to rest. Your “commute” has probably gone down from 40 minutes in traffic to a five- or ten-foot walk from one place to another in your home, but at least you’ve created a clear delineation between work and play.
Bring Life Into Your Space
Having a pet in your home can help to make you feel alive and joyful, but not all of us have them. If you don’t have a pet or can’t get one, consider bringing other things into your home that have life energy. The pothos, snake plant, ZZ plant, iron plant, cacti, succulents, spider plant, bamboo, ficus tree, or peace lily are all plants that do well in low lighting and are perfect for apartments. They improve the airflow in your space and give you something alive to pay attention to.
You can also get a small pet like fish, a turtle, or a hamster. They keep you company and keep you responsible for taking care of something, which can lift your spirits. Crystals are a great way to bring life into your space too; healing crystals possess electromagnetic energy that can raise your frequency and cleanse your spiritual space. Blue calcite, orange calcite, clear quartz, tiger’s eye, blue goldstone, pink opal, carnelian, amethyst, and citrine are all crystals that help with depression and possess the capacity to improve your mood. Put them in bowls around your home, on top of your furniture, near sunlight, or keep them on your person.
These are just a few ways that you can wake up your space and make living in it a more sacred, intentional, and beautiful experience until the warm weather and some sense of normalcy returns.