Focus on natural light
Daylight impacts physical and mental health, stress, performance and satisfaction. This is because your circadian rhythms (which help regulate your sleep and wake cycles) depend on exposure to light. Exposure to daylight during our waking hours also helps us sleep better at night, which can improve our mood and make us more productive.
How can you bring more daylight into your home? Keep your window curtains open and shades up for as long as possible to let light into your home. Position your desk and home lounge areas around light-filled parts of your house and hang lighter curtains rather than heavy ones.
“Early morning light is the most beneficial for mood,” says Renn, “so try to get exposure to light when you first wake up.”
“Also avoid artificial blue light,” suggests Heather Burpee, a research associate professor at the University of Washington Integrated Design Lab. Computer, tablet and smartphone screens often emit blue light that can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it hard to go to sleep. So stop looking at your phone and laptop screens an hour or so before you go to bed.
Sort your clutter
Clutter is like visual static, says Renn. “It’s like listening to the radio between stations. You can tune it out but it’s there gnawing at you.”
Renn suggests looking at all of the surfaces in your home and taking inventory of where you want to start. Tackle your clutter in little pieces: First one countertop, then your desk, then maybe the first area you see when you walk in the door. Clearing this visual static can have enormous effects on your well-being, says Renn.
Renn also suggests eliminating clutter by using the “touch everything once” method: If something comes into your house, give it an immediate home. Junk mail goes in one bin. Garbage goes in another. Don’t allow yourself to put items down at entry points; this will help cut down on clutter depositories.
Renn does have one caution: Though practices promoted by the decluttering guru Marie Kondo in her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up are very trendy at the moment, it’s important to recognize that there’s a spectrum over which people find comfort.
“I don’t know that it’s realistic for everyone to have no clutter. Instead, find what is most meaningful to you and think about what would make the biggest difference in your life. Seeing a free kitchen table? Work toward that,” Renn says.