Creating Comfort and Safety in Your Space During Uncertain times - Susan Shehata
Recap by FSIM Board Member, Mary Conley
Our home is a mirror of our life. As part of Feng Shui, we are all familiar with this statement. Within this mirror, our mindset, intention, or attitude has a significant impact on our home and our life. Such is the case of our attitude of resentment or gratitude, which is projected into our home and life. Resentment can be rooted in feeling that we have been wronged and keeps us stuck. We can feel bogged down with the upkeep and care of our homes or resent those we share the environment with. Whereas the mindset of Gratitude toward our space bypasses some other difficult feelings we may have and provides a more productive and open-hearted attitude. It is important to ask ourselves what stands in the way to feel gratitude for our home so that we can identify and deal with these different feelings and challenges we are having about our spaces.
Another component is the role of our brain in feeling safe and comfortable in our home. These feelings of safety and comfort are subjective feelings based on our internal state/perspective which is composed of our personal filters about ourselves, relationship with others, and the world around us.
The brain is constantly processing our current situation, the dynamics of relationships of those living with us, the state of our home as well as constantly scanning our home or environment for threats. Scanning for threats is particularly prevalent If someone has experienced trauma. The brain reminds us of other times when we were threatened, whether it be certain dynamics of a space or another person, conversation, or other situations. This manifests in our space in various ways, such as conflicts, avoidance of using a room, inability to feel comfortable if things are out of place, indecisive or controlling behavior. We all experience sensory processing differently, depending on our perspective and external factors. It is important to keep this in mind so that we can better understand ourselves and our clients. Thus, when going into a space, we need to consider and take into account these aspects for determining what variances are needed to support people in their spaces.
Also, the function of beauty and navigating shared spaces have a role in creating a safe and comfortable home. This involves having systems in place that aid in creating clarity, simplicity and ease. Systems provide order and security. We experience decision fatigue and overwhelm when the brain gets tired from constantly processing and deciding. When we have an established system we can rely on, we don’t have to work so hard. For example, when we are looking for a particular thing, we know where to find it. Below are the benefits of having systems in place.
- We can relax and feel safer on a mental level because we know where to find things.
- It helps to reduce conflict because everyone is on the same page. Everyone knows where an item is and where it goes when done with it.
-It helps to identify when something is out of place.
-With order in place, creates feeling of security.
Systems are particularly helpful for the following categories:
- Household supplies
Process, Capacity and Level of Use
Process: It is important to understand what process is involved, which will impact the physical organizational system. Think about how we or our clients move through space with particular things. Look at the process and create a system for how to use these objects.
Capacity: When we have more than we can maintain, it creates stagnation. Consider how much space is available for items and the capacity/time to maintain it. Are they in sync? If not, evaluate what can be reduced. When these are aligned, it creates more comfort.
Use: Understand the level of use for belongings by designating into tiers of most active, least active and storage. Store things according to how much use they get.
Function of Beauty
Beauty and order relax the nervous system and brings the body to homeostasis. When things are where you can find them and there is a place to put them away, we can look around and feel restful. We can see in our space the things that bring a smile to our face, such as a special object from a memorable trip or a picture of a loved one. We are not distracted by things out of order and clutter. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is represented by whatever makes us smile and feel comfortable, which is very individualized.
Systems need to be set up for who is primarily using the objects so their personal preference for determining where things go is considered. Also, how we use the space and when it is used is factored into the system. Space is a reflection of the relationship.
Tips for setting up comfortable, safe and secure space:
-Designate an area for a relaxation spot or calm corner with items that support relaxing (reading, knitting, coloring, creative activities, etc). When the brain deregulates with stress, we can go to this calm space and the body starts to relax. The brain feels safe knowing we can retreat to this spot.
-Time track to determine how long it takes to maintain or do certain tasks. This gives us information about our space so we can evaluate if our capacity to maintain the space and belongings is aligned with us.
-Experiment with systems - as needs change over time, reassess if the systems are still working for us.
-Assign homes for items.
-Create project lists if visual cues are needed.
Overall, when creating a safe and comfortable space, take a wholistic approach. Many things are intangible that affect us and our space, such as trauma, flight/avoidance, freezing or overwhelm. Understanding these aspects helps us to better understand ourselves and our relationship to our space. With awareness we can work through these feelings. As a result, we can then better determine what supports us in feeling safe and comfortable in our space.