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During trying times—and there may be none more trying than 2020—it’s important to prioritize not just our physical health but our mental health. We’re guessing you’ve seen many experts recommend setting aside space in your home for wellness practices like meditation and journaling. But for most of us, with limited square footage and shared spaces to manage, dedicating entire rooms to emotional upkeep just isn’t feasible. Not to mention that any preexisting free space was likely transformed into a home office many months ago. 

But, like with most conundrums, solutions often exist right under your nose, so we asked three experts to reveal their best tips for creating at-home wellness outlets that will last well into 2021 and beyond. Here’s what they said.

Separate Your Gadgets 

Photography by Brittany Ambridge

“During quarantine, one of our most crucial needs is to feel life outside of work,” says Ariela Safira, founder and CEO of revolutionary (and highly Instagrammable) therapy startup Real. “What’s difficult about separating work and play is how mobile our work tools are in comparison to our non–work tools—our laptops and phones can easily be moved from room to room (…to bathroom), whereas our dining room table and bed are pretty permanently set in their places.” We innately know, therefore, that dining rooms aren’t for snoozing and bedrooms aren’t for eating. Safira suggests applying the same thinking to technology to set some boundaries. “If I decide that my laptop never leaves my desk, ideally it will feel just as silly to use my laptop from my couch as it would to set up a candlelit dinner in my bedroom,” she explains.

A wireless charging station and laptop stand not only confine email responses and Zoom calls to certain spaces, they allow your body to fully relax in areas designated for, well, relaxation. There, set up a tech-savvy white noise machine or a sleek air purifier for the ultimate chill zone.

Make Your Whole Home a Sanctuary

If quarantine has inspired a total overhaul of your space, keep calm in mind from the get-go rather than carve out just one restful spot. Rae Houseman, head of coaching at meditation app Ten Percent Happier, is all for creating a full-time haven by, she says, “choosing colors that bring you a sense of calm, using plants to connect you to the natural world, and displaying soothing images to offer a sense of inspiration and escape.” 

Houseman suggests kitting out the area where you plan to meditate with a cushion and blanket that you can house in storage bins. This way, you won’t disrupt the flow of your home when they’re not in use. 

Work With Your Workspace

For those living in a small city apartment or whose kids rule the house, sometimes there’s only one opportunity to create a truly individualized, private space—and odds are it’s already in work mode. Licensed clinical mental health therapist Alishia McCullough recommends reexamining the atmosphere of your WFH setup. “One of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness and grounding is by burning earthy scented candles such as a cedarwood or sage in my workspace,” she says. If you’re not a candle fan, diffusing essential oils has a similar effect. Another of McCullough’s helpful tips? Keep a sticky note on your computer or desk that reminds you to stand up, stretch, and drink water, because, after all, a healthy body equals a healthy mind. 

Don’t forget to set aside time each day to take a brain break and activate the regions responsible for imagination and innovation, she adds. You can do this in ways that don’t disrupt your workstation: Leave a stack of transportive books on your desk you can easily grab when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or a pad of paper and colored pens to doodle with. A smart speaker, ready to play your favorite song for a quick dance party, works, too. Not to mention, the rest of the family can hop in on the fun. 

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