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For our health and wellbeing, we need spaces in which we can relax and recharge. Creating a specific spot in your home solely for your preferred activity helps cultivate the habit of relaxing, says psychotherapist Shirley Hughes of The Calm Zone. It's also good for your immune system, she says, because it floods your body with feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin, while reducing the impact of the stress hormone cortisol. You'll want to keep anything work-related out of your relaxation area. Even a nook (at least 700mm wide) under the stairs, or a closet space with a desk installed will do.
Ideally, your entire home is a place where everyone feels relaxed. As well as maximising comfort and luxury with beautiful home decor, additions such as an air purifier or dehumidifier can be used to create a healthier environment.
Your own personal relaxation zone can be anywhere – the patio, a spare bedroom, or even a corner of your office for after hours and divided by a privacy screen. Once you've found a space with potential, begin with a declutter, Marie Kondo-style. It's hard to let go of stress in a chaotic space.
Research has shown that exercise can help promote positive mental health by improving mood and reducing stress. A garage area or a spare room is ideal for a multi-station home gym, and you'd be surprised how little space you need for an exercise mat or set of weights.
Make sure the area is well-ventilated, and pack your gym equipment away in a storage container when not in use.
If you're not the dumbbell type, then let your inner artist flourish and stock up on craft supplies. Find a well-lit spot – maybe near a window with a pleasant outlook – and set up a comfortable chair and study table for tools you may need for your projects, such as a sewing machine.
On cloudy days a desk lamp will help illuminate your creations and may reduce the risk of eye strain, while colourful hobby boxes make a cheerful way to keep your crafty bits and bobs tidy.
Let your worries float away while you nap, read a bestseller or listen to music in a chill-out space that's away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of your home. Consider a comfy lounge chair placed in a secluded spot at the bottom of the garden, a covered patio where you can put a swinging chair or hammock or, if your space is limited, add a chair and side table to a corner of your bedroom.
In the garden or on a balcony, hang some solar-powered fairy lights to create a magical mood in the evening, while you can enhance the ambience of a room by adding a stylish floor lamp or having colour-changing dimmable downlights installed. Any space can be transformed into a soothing retreat with rugs, cushions and throws.
Studies show meditation can reduce depression, anxiety and even chronic pain. You'll need a cushion or chair to sit on, and a soft blanket. A small table can be used to display items of meaning to you, while candles and essential oils, such as lavender or bergamot, create calm. The Insight Timer app has 54,000 free guided meditations.
Whatever type of space you create, don't forget about the proven healing benefits of plants – they help you attune with nature, even when you can't be out in it.
The indoor jungle is an enduring trend that can be achieved even in low light conditions. Short of room? You can still create a green interior with tiny plants in cute planters.
Be inspired by the Staying Grounded podcast and join horticulturist Chloe Thomson as she chats about indoor plants and greenery with Plant Mama, and talks everything outdoors with experts such as Dale Vine, Paul West and Tammy Huyhn.
Check out our article on choosing the best indoor plants for health.
Photo credit: iStock, Cath Muscat, Sue Stubbs