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5 Autumn Home Hacks to Build Mental Health Habits

autumn home hacks - autumnal living room with couch, blankets and candles

As we fall into autumn, we're met with colder days, less daylight, higher energy bills and gloomy weather. It's common to feel some autumn blues as the bright and sunny summer days wave goodbye. Yet, for some, it marks the onset of a mental health challenge.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Autumn

For some of us, the autumn and winter months can cause "winter depression" or, more formally, S.A.D. (which stands for Season Affective Disorder).

Though it's not clear why the colder months can cause dampened moods, it's often thought to be due to reduced sun exposure, owing to the fewer hours of daylight we get in the autumn and winter.

How Your Home Can Boost Your Autumn Wellness

kitchen - stove, fridge - tidy house tidy mind

How our homes look and feel can affect our mood, and vice versa: when we feel our best, our homes feel good to live in because we feel able to maintain them. If we're stressed or depressed, our homes can become untidy and unloved.

The common saying, "Tidy house, tidy mind" most certainly applies here.

So it makes sense to treat your home with respect and TLC, as, consequently, this provides you with the mindful self-care you deserve.

Living in an uncluttered and clean space will help you to think clearer, promoting productivity and reduced stress.

Home Hacks to Support a Good Routine

If you feel that your emotional well-being tends to suffer as we move into the autumn, you may find it helpful to set up your home for a good routine.

If your environment is supportive and fully functional, it makes the rest of your life easier.

Here are some home hacks which might help you to make and sustain good habits:

1: Keep Your Space Tidy – Decluttering for a Tidy Mind

home hacks - cleaning in the autumn

Remove any obstacles to a clear mind by freeing your home of dirt and mess.

It's easy for the mess to pile up, especially when we are experiencing negative emotions such as depression, anxiety or stress, and it can feel overwhelming to tackle the chaos after months of neglecting regular cleaning.

Below are some ways to help you motivate yourself to get the job done:

  • Be Realistic: We've all had that moment when we tell ourselves, "I can clean the whole house in 1 day", but if your home is in disarray, it's sensible to start small. Putting pressure on yourself to complete everything in an unrealistic timeframe could either overwhelm you so much you can't make a start, or you may burn yourself out before everything is completed, meaning you end up feeling defeated. So instead, write a list of tasks that need doing and select a realistic amount to complete each day. You can still set goals to keep yourself accountable, but instead of trying to get it all done in 1 day, give yourself 1 week (or maybe 2, depending on the size of your home/how much needs doing).

  • Start Small: You don't have to do all of your cleaning tasks before allowing yourself to feel some accomplishment. Pat yourself on the back for just emptying the dishwasher, clearing your desk of old documents or putting the laundry away.

  • Don't Wait for the Right Time: When we consider a task that needs completing, it's tempting to wait for that surge of motivation or burst of energy before getting started. It would be great if we could feel motivated all the time, but in reality, motivation can't be depended upon for productivity. Instead, we must be disciplined. Starting is usually the hardest part. If you're dreading something, it's common to feel better once whatever you're dreading is underway. Additionally, by putting something off, the pressure begins to build and many of us punish ourselves for not having started sooner. So end the self-torture and just make a start! If you need some extra help, consider asking someone to help you clean, put on some music or a podcast and promise yourself a healthy reward upon completion of the task, such as a nice cup of tea or a hot bubble bath.

  • Prioritise High-Traffic Areas: High-traffic areas in your home, such as the kitchen or bathroom, are the most used areas in your home. They get dirty the fastest and are likely to cause frustration when they are too messy or cluttered to use. For instance, if all of your dishes are dirty, you may not be able to eat dinner. If all the bath towels are wet because they haven't been properly hung up, you may not be able to take a shower. Identify the most important tasks and do these before anything else, and make it a habit to do them daily or as often as needed. This can help to make your home more functional.

2: Create Relaxing Spaces for Self-Care Activities

self-care activities in a self-care space - chair with magazine and mug

Establishing a dedicated self-care area provides you with the time and space to prioritise taking care of yourself.

Here, you can reflect on your mental health, evaluate whether your basic needs are being met, and process the current ongoings in your life.

Ideally, this would be a quiet space where you won't be disturbed.

If you live in a busy home with children, pets or other housemates, it can be tricky to drown out distracts and background noise, so here are some self-care space ideas which are easy to implement and don't require a whole room:

  • Meditation Corner: Meditation is fantastic for your mental health and is best done in a quiet space. Set up a corner of the room with a comfortable cushion or chair you can sit on and any meditation tools you like to use, such as crystals, Tibetan singing bowls, candles, an aromatherapy diffuser or a self-care journal. If you struggle to block out the noise in your home, consider having some earplugs or headphones on hand to help you find some peace.

  • Reading Chair: Reading is a calming activity which can help to increase your brainpower, so it makes a great self-care activity. A reading space can be as simple as a cushy chair next to the window or in a cosy corner. Consider placing a lamp close by so that a lack of light won't deter you from your precious reading time!

  • Creative Space: Various studies show creative tasks can have a positive impact on your mood. Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, it could be helpful to set aside some time for imaginative activities. This could be painting, drawing, origami, writing or scrapbooking, or it could even be as simple as doodling while listening to some music or writing in your diary.

3: Embellish With Inspirational Decor

inspirational decor - home hacks - framed artwork

Having the right decor in your home can have an instant effect on your mood by stimulating your visual senses, and promoting happiness and aesthetic pleasure.

Here are some ideas:

  • Motivational Quotes, Paintings and Photography: Why not place a framed, inspirational quote or piece of artwork within eyesight of your bed so it's the first thing you see when you wake up? You could also place a picture of someone you find inspiring on your desk, or have a deck of affirmation cards handy for when you're struggling to stay positive.

  • Indoor Plants: Keep plants in your home to symbolise growth, perseverance and life, and elevate the atmosphere's energy. Plants provide colour and nature to your space and help to purify the air, so they are beneficial in more ways than one!

  • Visual Reminders: To help you keep up with your daily tasks and responsibilities, you may want to keep reminders in easy-to-see places, such as a to-do list or grocery list on the fridge door, or colourful post-it notes with reminders to stay hydrated or move your body regularly on mirrors or desks. Avoid using plain old paper for these, as white paper can be easy to ignore. Choose colourful or patterned products so they are eye-catching and pleasing to look at.

  • Personal Achievements: Mementoes of your accomplishments can help to remind you of what you're capable of. Perhaps it's a trophy, a photograph from a special day. You could even write a list of your strengths and keep it in an obvious place so you are regularly reminded of your potential.

4: Prioritise Shuteye - The Perfect Room Conditions for a Good Night's Sleep

how to get better sleep in autumn

Sleep plays a vital role in our mental and physical functions. Too little sleep can contribute to anxiety, depression and stress.

In the autumn and winter months, we get fewer hours of daylight, which may cause disruptions in our circadian rhythms.

Our circadian rhythm is our body's internal 24-hour clock which is largely influenced by light exposure. When our circadian rhythms are out of whack, our bodies get confused about when to feel alert and when to feel sleepy.

This can make it harder to fall asleep, therefore we don't wake up feeling refreshed. Healthy sleep starts with ideal room conditions, so here are some tips on setting up your sleep space for a rejuvenating and undisturbed night:

  • Ensure Your Bed is Comfortable and Inviting: A comfortable place to sleep is paramount. Make sure your sheets are clean and invest in a quality mattress and pillows. You will thank yourself!

  • Get the Temperature Right: The optimal room temperature for sleep is approximately 18.3 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit). If you have an adjustable thermostat, you might want to program it to stay at a similar temperature while you sleep.

  • Block Out Noise: If you live in a busy city or near high-traffic areas, the noise could be disrupting your sleep, even if it doesn't wake you up. If you don't want to keep your windows closed to block out the racket, you could use ear plugs, or a white-noise machine which can help to mute background noise.

  • Eliminate Distractions: If specific distractions keep you awake or disrupt your sleep, consider how you could reduce them. If your pet makes noise or jumps on your bed, consider shutting them out (if they let you!). Perhaps you're kept awake by racing thoughts - you could keep a notebook beside your bed and write down any niggling thoughts or tomorrow's tasks and to-do lists before you go to sleep. Getting these out on paper could help to offload your brain, allowing you to get to sleep more easily.

5: Prepare Your Space for a Solid Morning Routine

morning routine - how to make mornings easier

While some people find it easy to jump out of bed before sunrise, others (myself included) can have trouble peeling themselves out of the warmth and comfort of their bed, especially when it's cold, and even more so if they are suffering from depression.

The key is to not put pressure on yourself to be perfect, but instead to make sustainable changes and set up your home so it supports them.

Here are some home-orientated tips on getting through if you're not a morning person:

  • Use a Sunrise Alarm Clock: These innovative alarm clocks slowly illuminate a room with light from a set time. The gradual light helps you to wake up gently, mimicking the natural increase of morning sunlight which is a critical factor for regulating your circadian rhythm. This can help increase sleep quality and make you feel refreshed when you wake up. Sunrise alarm clocks can be helpful if you get up before it's fully light outside, you sleep with blackout blinds, your room is west-facing and therefore darker in the morning, or the light in your bedroom is obstructed by things like trees or bushes outside the window.

  • The Get-Ready Station: Having a space that is set up with everything you need to get ready in the morning can be very helpful if you wake up feeling groggy. This might be a vanity table where you keep your skincare, makeup and the day's outfit ready. Set this up the night before to make your morning feel easier.

  • The Kitchen Station: Not being able to find the coffee pot in the morning is enough to make anyone feel a bit stressed! Take a few minutes the night before to put together what you need for the morning, such as a coffee pot or tea kettle, breakfast ingredients and medications or supplements you need, as well as your favourite bowl/plate, mug and anything else you need. Organising your kitchen station and streamlining your breakfast process will make your mornings a little more breezy!

  • Self-Care Dedication: Just like your Get-Ready Station and Kitchen Station, set yourself up for a good morning by preparing your self-care area, whatever form it comes in, the night before. If you benefit from meditating in the morning, make sure your meditation space is ready to use and free of obstructions. If you like to exercise first thing in the morning, get any equipment or activewear ready so you can't make any excuses to skip your workout. Perhaps you find music motivating in the morning and you could have your home speaker ready to play an energising playlist while you get ready.

In conclusion, it's helpful to see your home as your base.

Life outside of the home can sometimes be unpredictable, but prioritising a supportive environment will make daily life stressors more manageable.

A functional and clutter-free space that provides relaxation and is set up to help you succeed will support your mindset so you can feel clear-headed, motivated and rested.

Disclaimer: The tips and advice provided in this blog post are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice. The author and publisher are not medical professionals and do not provide medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of something you have read in this blog post. The author and publisher are not responsible for any actions or inaction you may take based on the information provided in this blog post.


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