Believe it or not, our homes actually have a huge impact on overall wellness. Everything from the air you breathe to the way you layout your rooms can play an active part in achieving wellness in the home. The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. Many wellness models include at least 6 dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental health. Actively pursuing, creating, and maintaining a healthy, balanced home is important for overall wellness and is the foundation for a healthy life. As homeowners, there are many choices you can make as you work toward an optimal state of wellness but let us first introduce our concept of productive home-space and why it is important for wellness in the home.
Productive Home-Space and Wellness
In our company, we consistently focus on building a productive home space with wellness in mind. Creating a productive home space means focusing on designing a home that works for you, instead of you constantly working for it. This means a variety of things, depending on the individual homeowner, but always takes into account how you spend your time, what you consider a waste of time, and what you actually enjoy doing. It could mean taking out landscaping and using xeriscaping if yard work is mundane. It could be as simple as installing a learning Nest thermometer so you don’t have to consistently adjust your home’s temperature setting. It can even be as large as moving walls to better utilize wasted space. Regardless of the project, the focus is always on creating a home that supports your needs instead of taking up time on maintenance, disorganization, or frustration.
We spend over 90% of our time indoors and while this has been a blend of home, work, and social outings, the blend has been shifting to more time at home for us all. While we pride ourselves on construction and remodeling homes throughout Colorado, we frequently have administrative tasks and entire teams working from home. This has given us a perfect opportunity to reflect on how we create productive and healthy workspaces for our clients and ourselves even more.
WELL Building Standard
When we talk about productive workspaces, we’re referring to the WELL standard and our intent to craft spaces that are customized to meet the purpose and preferences of an individual engaged in their selected task. By taking an evidence-based approach (and testing them on ourselves!) we like to bring a bit more science into our worlds so we can share the outcomes with you. You can learn more about the WELL Building Standard and incorporating a holistic approach to wellness here: https://vigeoconstruction.com/practical-green-home-design/.
Take a look at our list below for some of the fastest ways to incorporate wellness in the home and boost productivity. Once you try them, we are sure you’ll feel the difference.
Water is essential for life. Oftentimes, this water can carry pathogens, heavy metals, and additives that are detrimental to your gut flora and can increase your likelihood of illness. Purchase a water test from a nearby provider (whether a kit or have the pro come out to your home) that will analyze what you’re putting into your body. Don’t like what you see? You can easily install an under-the-counter filter yourself or you can reach out to a qualified contractor to assist in installing a full-home, water treatment solution to take care of more complex matters (And we’re always ready to help!).
Homes are more energy efficient and closed off to external air flow now more than ever. Very few people even open their windows when it’s warm out and elect to run an air conditioner instead. When your entire air supply comes into the home this way, it’s paramount that you replace your filters on a regular basis (minimum of quarterly, preferably every month). Head on over to Amazon, purchase a reoccurring filter delivery, and spend 90 seconds a month replacing these filters. It will promote better quality air, create less strain on your mechanicals, remove excess dust in your home, and you’ll find you can breathe deeper than ever before. Read more how we combat unhealthy air and improve the wellness of your home https://vigeoconstruction.com/vocs-in-the-home/
Plants and diffusers
Whether it’s a bunch of flowers, a succulent, or an air plant, having flora nearby helps clean the air and can provide calm on more hectic days. Bamboo is one option that we love as they are easy to maintain and have proven efficient in actually cleaning the air around you.
While ventilation of a workspace is often set at the time of construction, there are a number of inexpensive ways you can improve the air around you. One of our favorites is the use of a small desktop diffuser with or without essential oils. As a frequent sufferer of eye strain, I was amazed at the difference it made to have a micro humidifier on my desk – no more headaches after a long day!
One of the most important changes you can make is to transition into a wholesome diet. Many families have a hard time providing meals at all so this tip may take some time. Begin by making little changes, substituting fresh vegetables here during farmers market season, slowly switch from canned to frozen, and reach out to local farmers and ranchers on whether they sell locally. Many families in our company purchase meat once a year and keep the grass-fed meat frozen all year long, bypassing fluctuations in price throughout the year. The goal is to avoid hype and provide wholesome, chemically-free food to your family whenever possible. Interested in growing your own vegetable garden? Check out everything you need to know in our gardening blog https://vigeoconstruction.com/growing-your-own-vegetable-garden/
We all know by now that one of the most important aspects of health is physical activity. Creating a home and environment that facilitates movement can help achieve long-term health goals even when you have no time.
Utilize the space
If you have any space in your home that is not being fully utilized such as a sitting area that is rarely touched or large furniture that isn’t necessary, consider converting this space into a small workout area that doesn’t need to be put away—it only needs to be as large as a yoga mat, and this makes it more likely that you’ll use it. Investments such as a dumbbell rack or small exercise bike for your home eliminate the time and effort required to go to the gym and make exercise easier to fit into your day. If you have the budget, wall mirrors with integrated workout programs are a great option for areas with limited space, but if you can’t spend the money on one, there are plenty of apps that provide quality at-home workout programs.
Make time for movement
If exercise feels impossible to fit into a hectic schedule, purchasing a fitness watch can remind you to stand up and walk throughout the day or bluetooth headphones will allow you to take calls while walking around the house. If you are able to add an evening walk with your family after dinner, a ten-minute strength workout, and a ten-minute aerobic workout into your schedule, it can make a huge difference for your health and well-being even when schedules are tight.
5. Organize and declutter
Beginning the journey to wellness always starts with clutter and excess. If you find yourself worrying about possessions or if everything has a home, it’s time to purge. Take the items you rarely use, or simply sit in a closed closet, and donate them to those in need. The process of removing excess from your home is extremely cathartic and it also gives you an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else that might actually put those items to use. Using an item once every ten years is not an excuse to hold on to it. For items you wish to keep, read our top 5 organization strategies https://vigeoconstruction.com/5-organization-strategies-for-productivity/ You can also learn about more ways to simplify and organize your home here https://konmari.com.
6. Introduce biophilia
The term biophilia was introduced by Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward Wilson and it describes humanity’s “innate tendency to focus on life and life-like processes.” One way to stimulate this innate tendency is to bring plant life into your home. Have a brown thumb? That’s okay – there are plenty of plants that are quite hearty and can withstand infrequent watering. Have a green thumb? Try introducing plant life into more areas of your home, including the bedroom.
7. Light, light, light!
Lighting for productivity
Lighting temperature, intensity, and placement are critical to fostering focus without burning you out. Whenever possible, we aim to use natural light to encourage circadian consistency and to provide an interesting focal point to reset your eyes in between pouring over spreadsheets. Regardless, we suggest having 2-3 lighting elements that foster creativity (low lighting), encourage focus (bright, cool lighting), and make you stand out for your next Zoom call (disco lighting). While we’re kidding about the disco light, there is one more light to consider in your workspace – your screen; there are many ways to combat blue light exposure which we will get into on another post.
Lighting for health and wellness
Our biological clocks are closely linked with light intensity, color, and duration – opening your home up to this natural ebb and flow of light is incredibly important for brain function and rest cycles. Closely aligning your daily schedule with your biological clock can also decrease depression and anxiety, promoting a sense of mental well-being and wholeness. If you find yourself with blinds and drapes closed during the day, try opening them up to let the light in. If you live in a townhome or apartment where that’s not possible, try taking a couple of short walks throughout the day to increase your exposure and connect your body with the time of day.
8. Mental space and quiet
Try limiting exposure to electronic media, like cell phones and television. Constant “connectedness” with texting, phone calls, social media, and the like encourages anxiety and prevents your from mentally being present with yourself and your loved ones. Use the “do not disturb” feature on your phone while at home with your family, turn off the tv and have dinner on the patio together, or have a fun night of s’mores in the backyard. These activities will intrinsically create a connection between yourself and those you create those memories with and will also promote a sense of completeness for the day, allowing you to rest when the sun goes down.
9. The layout of your home
Unless your home was custom-built for you, it’s likely that there are aspects of the layout that don’t work the way you would like to use it, and you’ve either adapted and figured out to make it work, or you live with the frustration of fighting with the space regularly. Although it might seem intimidating, making your home’s layout work for your family should always be considered when venturing into a home remodel project.
For one family we worked with, moving the kitchen to the original dining room space improved the flow, created more privacy for the family, increased natural light, and allowed for visibility into the backyard while preparing meals. For another family, removing some storage in the kitchen and installing a large island where guests could gather was what they needed the most. If budget is tight, consider adding barn doors to partition spaces for privacy or sound control.
Creating a Home You Love
Although a home is a place where you and your family can be secure, have all that you need, and share memories together – there may be some parts of your home that just don’t make you happy. Although superficial, creating a home you absolutely love will help you achieve overall wellness.
If you believe your home is dull and needs color, try painting your wall a fun accent color and hang up pictures that make you smile. If you spend your mornings on your front porch with a cup of coffee in hand, plant your favorite flowers in sight to add to your contentment and relaxing front porch oasis. Do you wish to create more space in your living room area for gatherings and quality family time? Get creative with your furniture layout or hang up your favorite mirror to create a greater sense of openness. Testing out alternative furniture arrangements can make a huge difference in the way your home feels and functions.
By making these small adjustments to areas in your home, you not only create a space you love, but you provide yourself with an emotional connection to the space as well. Small changes can make a big difference in a room, especially if it brings you joy and happiness. If you are interested in starting a DIY home project, read https://vigeoconstruction.com/achieving-flow-for-your-home-projects and how it can help you in your wellness journey.
Wellness is a Journey
Designing a home for wellness is not an easy task. And like all difficult tasks, it’s always a good idea to begin small and make incremental changes over a longer period, developing habits and experiencing those changes before diving head first into a new routine or lifestyle. Wellness is no different. The best thing you can do is make a couple of small changes over 2-3 weeks, step back in moments of reflection to review the effects of those changes, and then begin a longer term plan for the future.
Wellness is an individual experience that many people experience differently. It is not static – but rather an active pursuit and lifelong journey. Only you are responsible for making the right choices toward an outcome of optimal happiness, health, and wellness in the home.