Who has time (and space) for a home sanctuary? All of us, it turns out.
Here's the little corner I've set up at the end of my dining room table. It's where I unplug, listen to my record collection and focus on my hobby, drawing. In case you felt intimidated by the thought of decorating, this is what my sanctuary looks like:
Yes, it's a little messy. No, it doesn't look like a yoga studio. But this tiny spot has become essential to maintaining my sanity. I'll explain: During the months that I've rediscovered my love for drawing, I've reclaimed a part of my brain that has nothing to do with work (or worrying, which is apparently my second job). In fact, while I draw, there's a kind of zen-like quiet in my head that one would normally experience during meditation. This isn't a wild claim, either. Research has shown that engaging in a hobby does trigger a tension-relieving response. As a result, I've found that I've been more focused and better able to make calmer, more strategic decisions elsewhere in my life. All this in about 5-square-feet of surface area.
So, here are seven qualities a sanctuary can bring to your home, and your life.
“When you’re in a sanctuary, you are participating in an experience that helps you understand what’s really going on around you," environmental psychologist Sally Augustin tells The Huffington Post. "It gives you the time and space so you can respond to situations in a manner consistent to your life goals."
Escape Why don't I feel the same when I take my sketchbook to Starbucks?
"We are social creatures and are always monitoring the other people and things around us. But if you're watching or worrying about what others are up to, you have fewer [energy] resources for yourself," Augustin explains. "If you can escape the stimulation, you don't have as much mental power siphoned off…you're just plain less distracted."
The need for privacy is universal, and an effective sanctuary is a retreat from outside intrusions. So corners, nooks, and alcoves are among the most welcoming, natural sanctuary spaces.
There should be an element of familiarity to your sanctuary, so decorate yours with the things you really love. I've used the wall space above the table in my sanctuary for a favorite framed print, displayed a photo in front of me and always bring my daily treat -- a fancy coffee -- to savor while I relax.
A sanctuary isn't a good place for trendy conceptual chairs. Instead, you want a chair that allows you to actually relax and won't make your feet fall asleep. While my space has an industrial-style chair, I add pillows to it for custom cushioning.
A window offers a lovely view, and sunlight has been shown to improve mood. The second-best option is indirect lighting -- the key is not to have glare.
Distraction (The Good Kind)
Fireplaces, fish tanks and soft nature sounds offer positive distractions that can take your mind off of stressful problems.
We'll be rounding up the best photos, via Instagram, every Sunday. Just use the tag #SundaySanctuary and tag @HuffPostHome.