Detox Your Home for Winter
Create a cosy, well-balanced home in which to relax during winter
Imagine if we had a mental trigger that kicked in when the days began to get shorter and the temperature dropped to around 10’c. A trigger that caused us to gain weight, add materials such as leaves and grass to our home, walk around in a semi-comatose state after constructing additional storage facilities onto our houses for food. Okay, so we’re not skunks, chipmunks or bats, but if we were this would be considered completely normal practice.
As non-hibernating lovers of sunshine, we humans deal with the approach of winter in a slightly different (and not quite as sophisticated) manner. Generally we remain in blissful denial until we’re faced with the fact that we can’t lie on the beach in a blistering gale and it’s just no fun sipping an ice cold glass of chardy in an infernal downpour.
So faced with the dire prospect of months of boredom and frustration, we skulk off home, going via the supermarket to stock up on chocolate and magazines. This is how we exist for the next five months until, confronted with the horrifying fact that we’ve put on six kilo’s and summer is around the corner, we crash diet and punish our bodies in order to look good in a bikini when it’s time to hit the beach again.
And we’re supposed to be the superior species?
This is a perfect time to introduce the concept of preparing your home in time for winter. We are not as different to those hibernating creatures as we think. Naturally after the frenetic activity of the summer months is over and the days shorten in anticipation for winter, we tend to wind down, stay indoors more and entertain less.
As in the animal kingdom, our homes play an important part in our rest and rejuvenation process during the winter months. Our homes need to adjust to having us there a lot more often. The Chinese practice of Feng Shui believes that cleansing and décor adjustments are required in order to achieve a much-desired balance. If you think about it, who doesn’t love the glow of a fireplace on a cold winter evening?
If you don’t know the first thing about Feng Shui-ing your home in preparation for winter, don’t despair. A few simple guidelines and you’ll be basking in a happy, well-balanced home that will keep you serene and content throughout the harsh winter months.
Before attempting a de-cluttering of your home, you should be aware of what you are trying to accomplish. Obviously you want to get rid of all the junk that you’ve been hoarding over the years, useless possessions, unwanted items; anything that you don’t need or haven’t used for a good long while.
A good rule of thumb is anything that causes you stress, anxiety, or is associated with negativity or bad memories should be sold, stored or given away. Items that make you smile, recall fond memories or give you inspiration should stay. It generally helps to divide your ‘junk’ into five bags:
Useless items that are of no good to anyone and can be disposed of.
Belongings that could be donated to a charity, or given to hospitals and shelters, like clothing, shoes, toys and games.
Broken or damaged items that can be mended and that you would like to keep.
Items that need sorting out, or moving.
Transitional items that you don’t need but can’t quite let go of just yet. Bear in mind when you de-clutter that your goal is to create a space that you can spend a lot of time in, a sanctuary in which to ‘hibernate’ during the cold winter months.
When cleaning out and giving away old clothes and items that you no longer need, be sure you create new storage space. Psychologically this cleansing motion makes room for new things to come into your life.
Keep it clear
Entrances are the point of entry for your home and should always be welcoming and appealing. Make sure doorways and passages are never blocked. Shoes, umbrellas and coats must be stored away in a cupboard or hung up in a corner so they don’t construct the flow of energy into and around the house. Wet and drizzly conditions mean damp feet and muddy footprints. Ensure that you have a good doormat outside your house so you don’t drag dirt into your home. Entry should be seamless and easy so be sure to oil any squeaky hinges and fix broken doorbells or knockers.
This goes for the rest of the house too. As you walk through your home, note any holes, cracks, broken glass, chipped mirrors etc and get them fixed immediately. If you can’t afford it, indulge in a little DIY yourself. These small defects can sap the energy in your home.
Stairs and corridors provide access to different levels of your home and should always be kept open and accessible. This allows energy to move around and not stagnate, causing irritation and stress.
If you have a study or work from home, make sure you have storage space for unpaid bills and unfilled correspondence. A well placed in-tray will help you to feel more organized and in control of your finances. Store files in bookshelves and put magazines in holders or stacked neatly out of the way.
While you sleep
Bedrooms are sacred places. Clothes should be out of site and not elevated above bed level as this can cause a feeling of heaviness in the room. If you work out at home, all exercise equipment should be moved out of the bedroom, it is an area of subtle rejuvenation, not a gym. Leave any work related materials in the study or dining room. Resist the temptation to chuck your dirty laundry in the cupboard or in the corner of the room. Bamboo or woven laundry baskets are a lot more aesthetically pleasing and contribute certain warmth to dark or empty corners. The area under your bed should be kept junk-free.
Use earthy tones to enhance your bedroom and provide that extra bit of warmth. Flannel bedding and cozy duvets, woolen throws and thick quilts add a sense of protection and cosines. During the day draw curtains open wide and let in the sunlight, weak as it may be. The sun is the earth’s central source of light and energy and it is essential to invite it into your home. If your room doesn’t get direct sunlight during the day, you should consider extra lighting or a new lampshade. Candles and crystals also help to invigorate stale energy and add warmth to a room.
The lounge often becomes the most used room in the house, especially in winter. Create positive energy by adding bright cushions to the sofas and chairs, laying a thick rug in the living room or providing extra lighting. Deeply colored flowers and house plants jazz up the living area and add emotional warmth. If you live in a particularly cold climate fireplaces are an excellent source of warming energy. Position the fireplace as a focal point and make sure the heat generated moves freely around the room. Rearrange the seating in your living room so that it faces the fire. White lampshades enhance light wattage without creating glare and you can multiply the warmth and power of the fire by placing a group of pillar candles on the coffee table or mantle piece.
Our diet changes as the days get colder. Our bodies require extra nourishment to ward off the winter chills and keep our temperatures regulated. This doesn’t mean we should stock up on nuts, leaves and pine kernels, but we do tend to indulge in warming soups and hearty stews instead of light snacks and salads. The kitchen is the nexus of nutrition, the place where food is prepared and eaten. Pantries should be stocked with warming spices and healthy comforting foods. Rich aromas tantalise our senses and make us appreciate the earth’s bounty. Invest in a food processor and experiment with exotic soups and warming juices, such as ginger and lime flavored smoothies which will warm your blood and make you zing right down to your toes.
Return to the source
Because, like most animals, we tend to shut out the elements during winter it’s important to allow natural energy into your home. We’ve already mentioned the benefits of natural sunlight. Strategically placed wooden or metal chimes can catch the energy of the wind and provided you don’t leave the windows wide open in a howling gale, can be strangely effective. Take a moment to listen to the trees rustling outside your window, or the rain moving against a window pane.
Use scents to stimulate positive emotions and natural energy. Aromatherapy brings us the aromatic energy of living plants in the form of essential oils. The fragrances are a natural antidote to the emotionally debilitating effects of winter. Juniper has a sweet, foresty aroma, while pine and fir needles give off an invigorating evergreen tone. Fruity citrus oils like bergamot sweetens and uplifts and sandalwood and cedar wood provide a woody, outdoors aroma.
Introducing natural energy into the home restores balance and harmony. Indulge in your senses of smell, touch, sight and hearing. Create restful areas where you can contemplate the quite beauty of a wintry scene or snuggle by the fire. Your home should be your sanctuary where you can relax and rejuvenate.
When it comes down to it, we’re no different to the bear, skunk or bat really. We just sleep a lot less.