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Zen Your Den: Top 5 Ways to Create a Tranquil Living Space

For many of us, 2020 felt like the simmers of tension across the world coming to a head, on so many different levels. This tension can breed negative energy, stress, and anxiety, which can hold you back from creating a balanced, positive life. While the world wrestles with itself out there, you deserve to have a space of peace and tranquility where you can recharge your batteries! So why not make your living space into your own private sanctuary? With these simple tips, you can create your own zen den where you can restore balance and heal.... mind, body, and soul!

1) Declutter Your Space

With all of the chaos and noise out there, one of the best things you can do to help calm the chaos and noise in your mind is to declutter your space. Old, dirty, messy things carry old, dirty, messy energy. Think about how hectic life can get when you can't find your keys and you're on a tight schedule. Or when the laundry situation has gotten completely out of hand and you can't find your cutest-yet-still-professional blouse to wear to tomorrow's morning meeting, where you get to lay eyes on your cubicle-crush for 60 minutes every Monday.

There is a saying that goes, "cleanliness is next to Godliness". Whatever your higher source may be, whether it be God, Universe, Buddah, etc. What humans have inherently known for thousands of years is that cleanliness and organization is correlated to good health.

A dirty, messy space can cause more stress than healing, as we take in what is around us both physically and mentally. The energy of an organized space is calm, light and positive. Clearing your space of things that are aesthetically displeasing ,or things that can trigger painful memories is one of the easiest ways to instantly raise your vibes to a more positive energy!

2) Smudge It Out

Smudging is an ancient spiritual ritual most commonly practiced by Native American cultures, but does not exclude other ancient cultures around the world. Simply put, the practice of smudging is a method of using smoke from the burning of certain plants (specific to your purpose) in order to purify a person,space or object.

It has only come to the attention of Western medicine and spiritual practice in the last few decades, but using a smudge stick as a cleansing tool has become an increasingly more well known tradition due to it's proven positive affects on the well-being of both people and the environment.

Sage is the most commonly used plant for this practice because of it's wide variety of benefits. White sage, for example, is both antimicrobial and antibacterial, making it an excellent purifier. It is also thought to release negative ions in the air, which helps to neutralize positive ions. These positive ions are linked to common allergens such as pet dander, mold, dust and pollution. For anyone with a respiratory condition, smudging might be a great way to support healing.

Healers and spiritual practitioners alike have been burning sage to enhance intuition and reach a higher connection with the spiritual realm for eons. When we look into the science behind this practice, it turns out they have been on to something!

There is a compound found in certain types of sage, such as salvia sage, called thujone. Thujone is a mild psychoactive, and is found in many plants that are known to be used in spiritual rituals.

These are just a couple of the reasons, amongst several more, why smudging is believed to be an excellent practice to take part in if you are striving for a more positive, healthier environment for healing and spiritual connection.

3) Let Your Light Shine

Life thrives under the sun's nourishing rays all over our planet, and your home is no different! Letting in as much natural light as possible is a great way to reap the benefits that our sun has to offer. For one thing, the sun produces Vitamin D, which is absorbed by the skin when exposed to natural sunlight. This is a critical nutrient to us as it aids in preventing bone loss, reduces risk of heart disease, various cancers, weight gain and can also make a huge difference for many who struggle with depression.

About 14% of the population suffers from the "winter blues" , better known as seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder. For a lot of folks, shorter days and less sunlight can take a toll. Although it is unclear what exactly causes (SAD), researchers have pointed to lack of light as the main contributor.

Exposure to sunlight stimulates the hypothalamus, which helps control our circadian rhythm, or, sleep cycle. When your sleep is thrown off, it can cause your brain to produce too much of the sleep hormone,melatonin. While your brain is busy over-producing melatonin, it is also struggling to produce enough serotonin, the "happy" hormone that affects mood. This chemical imbalance is thought to be at the root of the issue, and the solution is to soak up as much natural sunlight as you can!

4) Diffuse The Situation

Not to be too blunt, but you need therapy......AROMATHERAPY, that is! Essential oils have been believed to contain healing benefits for mind, body and soul for thousands of years. Oils pressed or steamed from plants, seeds, bark, roots, flowers, and fruits can be utilized in many different ways, for various health benefits.

For example, studies have shown that lavender oil helps decrease stress, anxiety, and aids in sleep. It calms the nervous system, which controls blood pressure, heart rate, and brings brain waves to a frequency where it is more relaxed.

Some oils can be ingested, however this method of use is highly cautioned against for a vast amount of oils, and you should consult with an expert before doing so. While other oils, such as tea tree, frankincense, rosehip, and peppermint can be used topically and absorbed through the skin. One of the most common (and boho-chic) ways to use essential oils is to put them in an essential oil diffuser and let the aromas fill the air!

When inhaled, scent molecules travel through the olfactory nerve to a part of the brain called the limbic system, where the amygdala sits, which can be thought of as our emotional control center. Think of the difference in how you instantly feel walking into an environment with an offensive odor that smacks you in the face, versus one that pleasantly invites you in.

Aromatherapy boasts an array of health benefits and is increasingly accepted by medical professionals as a proven tool for the use of healing. If you are looking for a boost of energy to get over that late-afternoon slump, lemon oil is an excellent pick-me-up! Having trouble focusing and staying on task at work? Rosemary, basil, and sage oil all work wonders for concentration, memory, and overall cognitive performance. Not just a spice used in your mom's spaghetti, oregano has antibacterial and antiviral properties that help your body fight off infection and strengthen your immune system. The examples could go on for days, but the point is, essential oils are an excellent holistic approach to healthcare, and a must have for your zen den!

5) Just Be Natural

Imagine, spring is in the air, the first kiss of warm sunshine touches your skin, things all around are starting to turn green and full again, and you have the day off! If you are like a lot of people, your instinct is to get outside and enjoy nature in whatever way you can. This is not surprising, as humans have had an extremely close connection to nature since the beginning of time.

It has only been in the last couple hundred years of our existence that we have gotten away from that connection, and the negative effects of this disconnection are pretty evident in our modern society. Mental illness is at an all time high, with disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADD, and ADHD numbers rising to levels that would seem like this has become a new standard of our human condition.

Studies have shown that one of the best ways to help combat the symptoms of these oh-so-common illnesses, can be as simple as a walk in the park, or a hike with a friend! However, if you can't get out in nature, bring it inside to you! Having plants, or even viewing pictures of plants in your home can make a pretty significant impact on your mood, as exposure to nature in any form can reduce anger, fear, and stress. Some physical health benefits include lower blood pressure, heart rate, reduction of stress hormones, and muscle tension.

Humans are built for connection. We are also genetically programmed to seek the elements of nature. Time spent in nature is proven to increase feelings of connection to the larger world and to each other.

Research shows that when exposed to scenes of nature, the areas of the brain associated with love and empathy light up! While exposure to more urban scenes trigger fear and anxiety. In conclusion, nature seems to inspire feelings that connect us to each other and the world around us.

As our world has become more and more industrial, Mother Earth's natural purifiers have taken the brunt of our human expansion. Air pollution is sadly on the rise, and that includes the air inside.

Not only do plants aid in our spiritual/mental well-being, but plants have physiological healing properties as well. The Snake Plant, for example, makes for an excellent plant to have in your home or office due to its ability to filter out harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene, to name a few. It also looks really cool and is super-low maintenance!

Aloe Vera is another easy going and highly beneficial plant to keep around. The juices from this plants' leaves contain anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, making it a very popular plant for topical use to heal wounds and infections. When ingested, aloes' rich source of antioxidants and vitamins help reduce the severity of skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis and acne.

As we begin to better understand the science behind our pull to nature and the use of plants in healing, one thing has always been clear. Our inherent need to connect with nature is undeniable. Bringing plants into your space will brighten your days and support healing in so many ways!

In a world full of chaos and negativity, you owe it to yourself to create a safe haven of tranquility and healing. A little "spring cleaning" can help clear the clutter out of your living space and your mind. And, since you have everything looking and feeling so fresh-n-so-clean (clean), placing some new plants around the house, clearing the old heavy energy out with your smudge stick, plugging in a diffuser with your essential oil of choice, and taking advantage of natural light can help to sustain that new, more positive, lighter energy in your space. Giving you the perfect place to rest, center yourself, recharge, heal and connect.

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