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Cut the overwhelm and start creating a space you love with these ideas on how to bring mindfulness into your home, plus why it matters. [post contains affiliate links, which means we make a small commission, at NO additional cost to you, if a purchase is made. thanks for supporting north country nest!]
Whenever Brett and I meet someone new, it’s inevitable that the conversation will circle around to our house and all the renovations and projects we’ve done. Whether they’re asking us what we do for a living or where we live, it tends to come up. We talk about how long we’ve been renovating and what projects we’ve tackled so far. They ask if we’re close to being done and we respond with a ‘no’ and laugh. And then the conversation usually ends with some sort of variation of: “I don’t know how you guys can do that.”
One of the reasons we started this blog is to show you that anyone can do home projects. We were complete beginners when we started. We didn’t how to do anything – we just started. While we’ve been fortunate enough to learn A LOT, we still have a lot to learn.
I’ve often found myself wonderful why we do this – why didn’t we just hire it all out? Why do we continue to update and renovation and build and DIY our way through this house?
After leaving traditional full-time work almost a year ago, I started diving into a lot of business and personal development books, podcasts, videos – really anything I could get my hands on. A frequent topic among that space is mindfulness and while I was using it to help myself navigate my business, this summer I finally connected the dots between mindfulness and our home.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us (source: mindful.org).
Why does mindfulness matter?
Raise your hand if you’ve experienced some form of overwhelm in the past week.
I am willing to bet 90 percent of you could put both hands in the air. We live in a world where overwhelm is the norm and being ‘busy’ is a badge of honor.
Think about the last few conversations you’ve had with family, friends, co-workers or the random person in the checkout line. Did the word ‘busy’ come up? If it’s anything like what I hear, the exchange usually goes something like, “How are things going for you?” and the first response is, “Oh, good but we’re so busy.” Or, they’ll drop the ‘good’ altogether and the only response is ‘busy.’
When we talk about all of the things, we stop being present. That to-do list that’s running through your head right now? It’s having a battle with you reading these words. When you’re playing on your phone during a conversation with your spouse, child, friend, family member, anyone? You’re not being fully present.
So, what’s my point?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sick of being too busy or can’t seem to relax, mindfulness will help. When you only have one thing to focus on, whether that’s reading these words, playing with your kids, cooking dinner, driving or talking to your spouse, being mindful forces you to be in the moment. To actually pay attention to what’s going on around you.
What does mindfulness have to do with your home?
As I mentioned before, I’ve often wondered why Brett and I decided to buy a fixer upper for our very first home. Although this question usually pops up at the least opportune times – like when it’s 112 degrees outside, we don’t have air conditioning and we’re hanging drywall on the ceiling ? – it is something that I have found myself thinking about more often than not.
Lately, we have started talking about what we’d be doing if we bought a house that was fully done, or a home that only needed a few cosmetic updates. At first, we say how amazing it would be to only have a few things to do and how cool would it be to actually have floors. But then we start talking about all the aspects of our current home that we love and end up coming back to the same conclusion – there’s no way we could do it. That brand new house wouldn’t be ‘ours.’
Imagine how challenging it would be to live in a space that doesn’t make you happy. A space that isn’t a reflection of you. A place that is overwhelming and not at all relaxing. If your immediate thought when you walk through your front door is overwhelm, frustration or anxiety, it can be nearly impossible to practice mindful living. You aren’t happy in your surroundings, so why would you want to pay attention to the present moment?
Your home is your safe space. It’s your escape. It’s the place that you get to be fully you. It’s an expression of your lifestyle, your values, your priorities. Whether you live in a rental in the middle of the city or a cabin in the middle of nowhere – it’s yours.
How we bring mindfulness into our home
Take on a project
What I’ve come to realize is that doing projects on our house forces us to be present. It’s nearly impossible to do anything else when you’re concentrating on holding a sheet of drywall above your head, praying that your arms don’t give out and you drop it on your spouse.
Each and every project we have done thus far has required full attention. And I’m willing to bet all projects going forward will need the same. By doing the projects ourselves, we’re forcing mindfulness. We have to be present when measuring, cutting, lifting, holding, installing, painting or any other home-project activity.
I think it’s one of the reasons why we love doing them so much. Yes, it gets a little overwhelming at times, but each and every DIY we tackle requires us to be in the moment. And if we’re working on it together, even better.
Get in the kitchen
I am notorious for ruining meals and it wasn’t until this summer that I connected the dots between everything I was learning about mindfulness and cooking.
Usually, I would throw something into a pan, turn on the burner and then quick run off to get something else done. That something else would lead to another thing and by the time I made my way back to the pan, whatever was in it had been burnt to a crisp. One would think that I’d learn my lesson after one or two times, but no.
And then something just clicked. Cooking or baking is yet another moment to practice what I’ve been learning. I used to view my time in the kitchen as an annoying burden and while it’s still not something that I get excited about, I now look at it as a time to relax and experiment.
Clear the junk
I have been known to hoard things, especially home decor. If I find a good deal at the thrift store, more often than not, I’ll buy it. Doesn’t matter if we have a spot for said item – I am not one to pass up a good deal.
One thing led to another and now a large portion of our basement is filled with various home decor items. I often preach the ‘shop your house’ method and having a large selection on hand makes this a fairly easy task. However, it can be a little overwhelming when there is so much to choose from.
Maybe your vice is shoes or bags or tupperware or power tools. Whatever it is and whether you realize it or not, having a lot of ‘stuff’ doesn’t just create clutter in your home. When we see a large collection of things, our mind automatically tries to make sense of where it should go. We’re naturally wired to organize things. When there’s an influx of items in a space or room or drawer, we can get a little uneasy.
So, the simple answer – start getting rid of all. the. things. Take one room at a time – or, if that feels daunting, start with one drawer.
A few last words
Is this for you? Short answer: yes.
If you’re feeling that overwhelm or needing some encouragement to relax (don’t we all??) or find yourself trying to do too many things at once, give this a shot.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
Cozy, Minimalist Home (book)
Jon Kabat-Zinn (video series)
Five Ways to Bring Mindfulness Home (article)
All our best,