Simple Ways to Feel Harmony in Your Home

From three metaphorical floors, your living conditions can feel more liberating.

The Basement

The foundation always starts with yourself. Let’s turn on the lights and make this level a livable space. 

Something has probably changed for you either because of Covid, or recently in general. Adjusting to changes whether they’re good or some kind of loss is not easy. I’m sure you’ve discovered this the hard way. Because of Covid, we had the opportunity to test our limits and assess our relations with everything and everyone. A hidden factor that can contribute to the quality of our interactions and personal wellbeing is our home.

My living conditions feel best when balanced. Balance can take many forms. Regulating your sleep cycle, pausing Amazon purchasing, and finally reading that book recommendation are forms of balance. Setting some healthy limits for yourself to regulate the changes you’re experiencing helps. Self-awareness practice is a way of monitoring your attitude towards facing the unexpected. As you attempt to maintain some consistency in your life, part of embracing changes is noticing how they can work for you. What have you gained from a loss, and how might it be better for you?

A lot of us lost a sense of time because of the pandemic schedule. When the days seem to blend together, do one good thing for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be a real treat or chore, but something simple like making your bed, drinking a glass of water, or planning ahead. I always feel really good about myself when I’ve prepped something that saves me a step later. The smallest moves make a mindset. Think of meeting your needs, or even just one of them, as a romantic gesture for yourself!

Honor your own time and space. Back in college, I lived in a house with 7 other girls, and it certainly took a toll my mental and emotional health. In that time, I was able to learn what worked for me and what I could have done differently. I would often go straight to my bedroom when I walked through the door. I confined myself to my room to feel a better sense of personal space, but it made living in the rest of the house feel uncomfortable. This was a strong indicator that my living conditions needed to change. It wasn’t forever, but I learned what was best for me and how to adjust to the situation.

What worked for me was taking walks so I could be alone outside of my bedroom and re-set myself for any interactions I might have when I returned. I took on a hobby by walking to two yoga classes a day. This worked when I lived completely alone in a foreign country too. Autonomy taught me to enjoy my own company. The significance of personal space and having something of your own is addressed in my post on creating ceremony and post on boundaries. As you adjust to changes and feel good in your life’s flow, you are naturally easier to live with. 

The Main Floor:

How can you improve the physical living area? Shifting around the placement of the furniture, re-organizing cabinets and drawers, and doing a big clean of floors and windows all give a fresh perspective. Sometimes a quick swipe on top of hanging picture frames can feel like you’re breathing a little better. If you can, brighten with flowers. Replenishing them can get expensive, so you could pick wild ones on a walk or gather colorful red and yellow fallen leaves for a display. An indoor herb garden is pretty easy to maintain too! It’s surprising how physical living conditions impact your state of mind and the dynamics of the social relationships within the household.

The Attic:

Ascend to the floor with the most heat. Watch your head, and don’t step on the deceivingly scratchy pink puffs of insulation. 

Assuming you’ve lived with others at one point or another, you may recognize a number of issues that can arise. Although you may like who you live with, the various personalities and needs within the household can sometimes clash. In attempts to avoid confrontation, I found that I would bottle up everything that bothered me. All of the anxiety, tension, and resentment is energy that will take some form either on your health or resulting in an eventual explosion. There’s a difference between letting things go and choosing not to address something. If you have to take a breath and say to yourself “I’m not going to let this bother me” every time something irritates you, all of the instances are still adding up and will continue to do so unless you say something or truly let it go to the point where it no longer bothers you.

The behavior may continue even after you say something, but the key is to not let it build inside of you so when you say it, you are able to say it nicely. When you say something while you’re calm, it likely comes out civilly and clearly. The truth doesn’t have to hurt! Passive aggression isn’t a nice way of saying something. It promotes miscommunication, frustration, and unmet needs. Pretending something is no big deal becomes worse for you when the other person doesn’t pick up what you feel is an “obvious” problem. This is also annoying for them to have to figure out the problem and prolong an actual discussion. Being indirect is way more effort and doesn’t earn you respect.

When you live with people, you get to know them in a deep way because you observe their habits and are present for their humanly ways: meals, sleep, bathroom, leisure, etc. What habits of yours seem to put your housemates on edge? Practicing self-sufficiency is a very livable quality to have. Self-sufficiency goes beyond doing things on your own and cleaning up after yourself. It also involves awareness of the effects from what you do. Is the floor soaked after you shower? Can the next person expect to find toilet paper/paper towels where they need it? Did you snap at your partner or kids before realizing they’re having an off day? An uncapped toothpaste won’t cause a divorce, but no one likes to nag or be nagged. Just as the good little things build up, so do the undesirables. You don’t have to micromanage yourself or your cohabitants with your awareness. Instead, your awareness helps to present to you the lifestyle you’re living and to be flexible when something about it needs to change.

Aside from taking breaks and establishing your own personal space, engage with people outside of your home. My friend who lives far away has naturally kept our video chat date every weekend for over a year. We hadn’t planned for any kind of commitment, but we look forward to our time together. This time allots us to pull each other out from our four walls. You could also try to include other people in your home on the concept of doing one good thing a day. Right around the onset of the pandemic I went from living independently to moving back in with my parents. It has felt restrictive at times, but we have tried to think of ways to make new memories so our living conditions could be more optimal. Having a new experience together could perhaps remind you why like you each other and live together in the first place.

You don’t want your home to be another source of stress or to bring out the worst in everyone living there. Too much together time or too much alone time can be helped with some minor efforts of communication, re-setting, and balance to feel good about your lifestyle and home, therefore creating harmony. 

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