Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.
Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.
Today’s Habit: Rearrange the furniture in your home.
For whenever you’re feeling: Bored of your space; like you need to be revitalized; like the cold, grey weather is affecting your mood.
What it is: At this time last year, I was at home with a baby on parental leave, bored out of my mind. It was cold and snowy, which kept us indoors a lot, and to be honest, there really isn’t much you can do with a four-month-old that doesn’t involve staring outside the window, pining for your old life.
But I digress.
When my baby napped, I had to find ways to entertain myself (when I wasn’t cooking/doing laundry/doing dishes/making doctor’s appointments/cleaning the house), and a lot of my time was spent sitting on the couch in our living room looking aimlessly about or watching “The Office” re-runs.
Then one day, I decided to move our green armchair to a different spot of the room, so I would get a better view of outside. It felt great; and even though it was just one small action, I felt like I was in a new home. My mood instantly lifted and I felt better for the rest of the day.
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How it can help: Although there’s no scientific research that specifically looks at the effects of rearranging furniture, there’s anecdotal evidence that tells us it has mental and emotional benefits.
According to Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist and director of the Creativity for Resilience Program at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas, rearranging furniture can increase your energy and put you in a good mood.
“An impact on the environment, whether an imprint or a removal, lifts mood, provides concrete satisfaction, and instills a sense of effectiveness,” she wrote in Psychology Today. “Inner and outer harmony happen when pieces are placed in a way that makes sense for you.
“As you rearrange your personal space, you hone your aesthetic and identify what you truly love, want, or need. Such specificity brings relief,” she continued.
Barron told Self magazine that she discussed furniture rearranging at a workshop and discovered that others also did this and felt similar feelings of contentment. “I was very surprised by how many people said they did that and that it made them feel better,” she said.
If you look at furniture rearranging as a form of “movement-based creative expression,” which may be a bit of a stretch but stay with me here, studies show that it can be beneficial to one’s self-esteem and “psychological well-being.” However, these studies did not specifically look at furniture rearranging — they looked at activities such as dance, theatre arts, and tai chi. Not exactly moving a chair from one side of the room to the other, but Barron says she thinks of it as a similar form of creativity.
Rearranging furniture in rooms where you spend the most time, such as the bedroom, could be a good place to start.
“The immediate sense of accomplishment is unrivalled, and once the novelty of waking up in a brand-new, hotel-like room wears off, you’re left with an updated space that reflects your current mindset,” Hanifah Rahman wrote in BuzzFeed on the effects rearranging her bedroom furniture had on her.
“Anything from feeling a bit stagnant, to a change in season, to a breakup can be the perfect reason to rearrange your room,” she noted. “Each time I move my bed, my wardrobe, and the other pieces of furniture that live in my room, I’m honestly shocked at how it manages to morph into a totally different space. Even though everything’s the same, it somehow feels fresh and new. And unlike other kinds of makeovers, since you technically haven’t changed anything, you’re left with a comforting sense of familiarity.”
But don’t try to move everything all at once — start with something small, like a side table, or a lamp. Then, if you want, move around the bigger furniture, like an armchair or a sofa. Simply moving one piece of furniture will make you feel a bit like a new person, in a good way.
Where you can do it: Start with the room you spend lots of time in, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the bedroom. It could be the bathroom or your kitchen, too.
How it makes us feel: When I moved that armchair last year, I felt like I had accomplished something, which, if you’ve ever been on parental leave, is a big deal. Doing that small, seemingly insignificant thing lifted my mood during a time when I felt isolated, bored, and like I could never do anything right.
Now, when I rearrange furniture, I still feel that sense of accomplishment and I feel like I’m living in a new house. It makes me feel happy and productive.
And that’s your tip of the day.
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