I don’t know about you guys, but does the thought of spending the day at a spa, or going to one after a crazy, mentally-intense day at work make you think “sign me right up!”?
It one-hundo percent has that effect on me. But as I’m sure you and your wallet would agree, it’s not feasible on a regular basis. Well, at least not for me, as long as I want to be able to eat and afford rent. But you know how a lot of businesses are born out of their founders’ personal problems? The same applies here. Say hello to the at-home spa sanctuary!
For the past couple of years, I’ve been super conscious of the way my environment makes me feel. There are things that make me feel unsettled, like being stuck in traffic, messy spaces, dirty dishes in the sink and air conditioning that’s too strong. Some things make me feel drained and tired, like cold rainy days, too many late nights, and long stretches of time in front of computer screens without real human interaction.
On the positive side, there’s a lot of things that make me feel happy, restored, energized and grounded. Things like the warmth of sunshine on my skin, being in nature, uplifting music, being in water, a clean home, and waking up after a really great night of sleep.
As we all know, self care looks different for everyone. For some, it’s reading a book. For others, it’s having a bath with a bajillion rose petals. I’ve yet to try that one, by the way. All I can think about is how much of a pain it must be to clean the bath after. And wouldn’t they all get stuck to you?
I digress. Back to the point.
Where we physically spend our time has a big impact on so many aspects of our holistic health, so that’s why I’ve made it a priority to turn my home into a space that I truly get excited about coming back to every day. If you find yourself feeling anxious, flustered, irritable or unsettled, here’s a few ideas that might help you create a more settling space for yourself to unwind in.
5 ways to turn your apartment into a spa sanctuary
1. Create that spa smell with an essential oil diffuser
Smell is such a powerful thing, so much so that retail companies adopt scents in their stores to help evoke specific emotions and associations in the minds of their customers. As far as relaxation goes, like colour, it varies by person. My stress-reducing blends are typically mixtures of lavender and peppermint or eucalyptus, but lemon, clary sage, jasmine and ylang ylang are also used for the same reasons.
On a related note, if you want to treat yourself to a little something, go for the Saje AromaTime diffuser. I bought mine a couple of years ago and am sure I’ve now got it down to pennies per use. The AromaTime has 2 tanks which you can run on timers, and I usually set one for 15 mins before I get up and another for 15 mins before I get home from work. The smells I wake up to are usually citrusy, whereas the ones diffusing as I arrive back home to at the end of the day are the same stress-reducing ones I mentioned above. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself!
2. Create that spa feel with soft textures
I kept my small white furry rug from my last apartment, and it still resides under the same chair here (my journalling chair!). Once I figured out what couch I was going to buy, I got a larger shaggy rug for the main area in my living room. I added some knit throws and a few pillows with different textures to my furniture, and even if I’m not physically touching these things, they’re still nice and soft on the eyes!
3. Create a spa look with colours that make you feel relaxed
If you’ve never read about colour psychology, it’s definitely something interesting to look into. The idea is that different colours can affect our brains in different ways, so when it comes to creating a spa-like home, you’d ideally opt for colors that you associate with being calm, safe and relaxed. If you’re interested, you can learn more about each colour’s effects here.
My current apartment gets a decent amount of light, but not as much as my Vancouver one because it doesn’t face the same direction. To keep it looking as airy and bright as possible (which makes me feel like it’s spacious, clean and organized), I went for a mix of grays and whites, with a few bits of light wood and metallics on my furniture. The green hues from my plants are the pops of colour, and green is often associated with nature, tranquility, and health.
Of course, we all interpret colours in our own ways, but these are pretty common associations. Blues can also be soothing and calming – just think of looking at the ocean, a clear sky or a calm swimming pool. Browns are often described as having a grounding effect and are associated with nature, safety and security.
4. Create a spa zen-like vibe with plants
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably know that I’ve quickly become a crazy plant lady with big apartment jungle dreams! It all began with finding greenery for my patio (I’ve never had a proper patio before!) and it’s now become a game of seeing how many can fit indoors.
My personal obsession aside, there’s plenty of health-related reasons and side perks that come along with having plants in your home. Here are a few:
- Some varieties help to purify the air, remove toxins, and produce oxygen. You might not think you’re exposed to a particularly toxic environment if you don’t live in a big city, but toxins are also released by building materials, synthetics, electronic equipment, plastics and airborne mold.
- Plants are a lot more soothing and therapeutic to look at than a computer screen full of tabs and Excel spreadsheets! Greenery can help us feel more like we’re in nature instead of in commercial, man-made buildings under artificial lighting.
- Some studies show that plants can help to boost mood, productivity and concentration (perhaps as a result of the above benefits). In these studies, people performing work tasks where plants were present reported a more pleasant environment and less perceived stress. Some also took fewer sick days.
I’ve received a whole bunch of questions about plants (especially about which ones that are hard to kill) over the past couple of months, so I’ll probably do a dedicated post on what I’ve learned about this so far. For now, just know you don’t have to go full-on jungalow to benefit from having plants in your space. If I had to recommend just one plant for beginners, it would be a snake plant (also known as a sanseviera). In my very early experience, I’m convinced that these are pretty much indestructible.
5. Create a spa sound with calming music
Spotify is my bestie for this, and you might already agree if you’re a user too. If you go to Browse > Genres and Moods, you’ll find categories for Mood, Chill, and Sleep. Some of the playlists I’ve found in these sections are now my go-to’s, including those with a lot of nature sounds, rain and ocean waves. Queue them up before or after dinner and you just might sleep like a baby!
A few other ideas:
Clear clutter off shelves if it isn’t something you use or love to look at
If you find yourself with a bunch of little bits of clutter you can’t part with, sort them into baskets or decorative boxes that you can stash away in a closet or drawer. Or, if you really like the look of the boxes/baskets, keep them on exposed shelves. With a few exceptions, I feel most settled when the surfaces of my apartment are clear, so I keep most of my storage baskets in my closets.
PS. You could totally argue that I’ve re-cluttered, just with plants. However, I like to justify their presence with the above health benefits, AND they’re like children. Without me, they’d still be homeless orphans.
Keep your computer out of the bedroom
Admittedly, I sleep with my phone beside my bed which we all know isn’t ideal, but I know I’m not the only one. My laptop however, stays in my living room (and yes, I’m LOVING the fact that I actually have a room and my bed and couch are no longer the same piece of furniture!) I’m not much of a TV/movie watcher, but reading blogs and scrolling mindlessly through Pinterest however, IS something I used to do from bed. Keeping my computer in the living room helps to ensure that I just go. to. sleep.
Incorporate a relaxing activity into your evening routine
I’ll talk more about mine in another post, but just like any other, routines and rituals help decrease the amount of mental energy we need to use for decision making at the end of the day. Right now I’m hooked on stretching before I get into bed, but you could try taking a bath or shower, doing a face mask, reading a book (like a real one with PAGES!), talking to someone, journaling, meditating, or going for a walk. If you’ve got someone who’s willing to give you a massage just like a masseuse in a spa, take advantage of that!
I’d love to know, do you intentionally incorporate relaxing elements into your home to make it feel more relaxing? What are some of the ways you’ve done this?