Know that peaceful feeling you get in the middle of a forest? Or how being around sand just resonates differently than asphalt? That's because nature can help people feel calmer, clear-headed, and renewed. That's exactly what it does for clean-living guru (and Well+Good Council member) Sophia Gushée. Here's why she's designed her home to have plenty of natural touches—and how you can do the same.
Depleted: That’s how I’ve been feeling for years.
Writing my book—A to Z of D-Toxing—over eight years, caring for pregnancies, nursing three babies, renovating real estate for our growing family, publishing a book, speaking engagements, and launching a new business…these are the highlights of why my mind, body, and soul feel spent.
Recently, however, I have had the opportunity to pay attention to my home—specifically, my bedroom.
Restored: That’s how I’m starting to feel, and I know there’s more of it in my future. So, how did I do it? I used elements from nature to morph my hectic living space into a restorative sanctuary.
Keep scrolling for how you, too, can reap the benefits of the great outdoors inside.
Forest bathing—the practice of spending lots of time with trees to enjoy many health benefits—has been receiving a lot of well-deserved attention in the wellness community. This ancient Japanese tradition reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and anger, according to Qing Li, MD, PhD, author of the book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health And Happiness. Most of us are unable to take regular (or even occasional!) trips to the forest. Instead, we can modify this idea for our homes by incorporating two key categories: essential oils and plants.
If I had to pick one favorite plant, it’s the snake plant (Sansevieria laurentii). Extremely tolerant of low light and infrequent watering, it’s the most low-maintenance plant species that I’ve come across. A NASA study also found it effective in removing common indoor toxins. I like to keep several of them in our bedrooms as they consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night.
Recognizing that most of us can’t spend as much time among trees as we’d like, Dr. Li also recommends 100 percent pure essential oils from pine trees and cypress. These trees are rich in phytoncides, which are found in forest air and may aid human immune function. Their essential oils may improve energy, well-being, sleep, the immune system, cardiovascular health, and the parasympathetic (rest-and-recover) response.
I’ve been excited to discover the many ways 100 percent pure salt can be used at home. Besides using natural sea salts in your food (which can add dozens of essential minerals to your diet), adding them into your bath can help detox your body and skin. Leaving them in bowls around your home is believed to detox negative energy, according to ancient beliefs ranging from shamans to Feng Shui.
I also have Himalayan pink and white salt lamps throughout my home. They reportedly can address allergens, toxic chemicals, positive ions from popular household products (too many positive ions are not good for us!), and even the electromagnetic fields generated from our wired and wireless technologies.
Whenever I have the opportunity to ask a seemingly left-brain-dominated person (including an esteemed cardiologist) about their thoughts on the reported benefits of crystals, they've confirmed the theory that crystals—and anything created by nature—could help bolster our own electromagnetic fields to help our bodies be more resilient to stressors. My current favorites include shungite, black tourmaline, and lepidolite to help protect my energy and body’s resiliency.
I love having lots of wood in my home. The different patterns, colors, and textures inspire curiosity about the life of that wood piece. And that gets me imagining forests, soil, fresh air—nature! Turns out, studies have found that incorporating wood in your home can help improve your stress response, blood pressure, pulse rates, cholesterol levels, cognitive abilities, happiness, and self-esteem. Easy ways to start adding more wood at home include choosing beautiful wood cutting boards that could also be used as serving platters.
Through my research for A to Z of D-Toxing, I grew to view “home” as not just where we live, but also our bodies (the home of our blood, organs, and the first home of our children) and our planet (our collective home). So I think this month of April—Earth month—is a beautiful time to follow some of the tips above to become more connected to our planet. Harmonizing our inner and outer environments will undoubtedly lead to enhanced wellness.
Sophia Gushee is a sought-after toxic exposures expert, author of A to Z of D-Toxing, and founder of Practical Nontoxic Living, a multimedia company that produces podcasts and is incubating the D-Tox Academy, an online portal to make practical nontoxic living simple and accessible.
What should Sophia write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to email@example.com.
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