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  • Monika Getty

Creating A Zen Space

Let's face it: life can be super hectic, stressful, with too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. Our nervous system is greatly affected by our surrounding environment, so that when we're in the midst of working and living our chaotic lives, we release stress hormones. Too much of this can lead to sickness, burnout, stress and depression. That's why it's so important to have a space that invokes calm and peace and allows you to relax.

You don't have to have a large space or lots of money to create a little haven of tranquility; even a little corner of a room can be made to be your sanctuary, a place where stress is left at the door and your mind and soul are nurtured. One of my clients was saying how when her little boy goes to bed, she takes over a corner of her living room to set up her yoga mat, light some candles, run her diffuser and practices some yoga to wind down her day. By giving yourself some space and peace, you benefit with stress reduction, muscle relaxation, healthier blood pressure, better sleep, clearer thinking, reduction of anxiety and a sense of calm.

Here are a few simple ideas to help you create your Zen space:

Decluttering - keep the area you've chosen clean and free from distracting clutter. A clutter free space encourages a clutter free mindset.

Bring in some nature - add some flowers, herbs or green plants, especially those that help filter indoor air pollution. According to the Foliage for Clean Air Council, these include Gerbera daisies, Boston ferns, English ivy, chrysanthemums, Areca palms, spider plants and golden pothos. The Council recommends having two plants for every 100 square feet. Nature really does nurture the soul, and as a bonus, plants provide oxygen-rich air to nurture the body too.

Choose the right colours - light colours, such as pale blues, greens, greys or beiges, are relaxing on the eye and help to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.

Use soft and natural light - fluorescent lights are harsh and can trigger or worsen migraines and epilepsy in some people. Natural light is best, but when you need extra lighting choose low wattage bulbs and indirect lighting or candles. Beeswax candles have the added benefit of smelling wonderful too!

Enhance with natural scents - scents can trigger memories and emotions; vanilla always reminds me of my Mom baking and takes me back to when I was a little girl "helping" out in the kitchen. Natural scents (such as the aforementioned beeswax candles) can help to create a relaxing environment.

Fabrics - feeling relaxed can involve all of our senses so stick with soft, natural materials that make you feel comfortable, like a cotton blanket or silk pillow.

Eliminate electronic disturbances - our modern technology is more often a distraction than anything else. Turn off your phone, television, talk radio, computer, anything that doesn't help to relax you. Research has shown that not only does this constant stimuli overstimulate our frontal cortex, the blue light from our devices also interferes with our sleep/wake cycle and possibly affect eye health. Instead of being on your phone, tablet or watching TV, meditate, do some yoga, read a paper book, whatever that works to relax and calm you.

When someone comes to me for treatment, I set up the room so that they can start relaxing the moment they enter, whether consciously or unconsciously. The walls are a pale blue, there is soft indirect lighting, the soothing trickle of a water fountain, pictures of nature and gentle music playing quietly. I want people to feel like they've entered an oasis of peace, like the calm in the eye of the hurricane that is often our lives. In these spaces, you start to breathe more deeply, your muscles relax and it allows your mind and body to slow down and just be.

Creating a Zen space seems more important now than ever before in our hurly burly world; we all need a place we can go to to de-stress, decompress, unplug and slow down, free from distractions and the need to be constantly busy and always in contact with the outside world. Whether it's a place in your home, backyard or local forest, find yourself a little island of peace where you can breathe deeply and just be. Your mind and body will thank you for it!

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