Exhale: 12 Ways to Practice Self Care Using Your Interior Style
What’s the first thing you want to do when you get home after a long day of work? I mean, before you even set your bag down and take your shoes off. I’m talking about the second you walk through the door. What is that feeling, that first small thing you want your home to make you do?
We all want to walk into our homes and exhale.To feel that sensation of being welcomed to your sanctuary. To let go of the day’s stress in a simple breath of release.
I have my very first interior styling project coming up, and this idea of having an immediate feeling of calm and sense of belonging will be my main focus in the process.
My friend and co-worker, Jen, has honored me with the task of styling her home, and I couldn’t be more excited. Now that my own apartment is styled to the brim and can’t really take much more decoration, next I get to sink my teeth into the interior decor of an entire house! And you bet your ass I’ll be documenting it all here, so stay tuned. :-)
I bring this up in a post about using your home decor to practice self care because of a conversation Jen and I had in which I was asking what her style is and what she wants to feel when she’s at home. I had tasked her with reading my post 5 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before You Start Decorating Your Home as a way to get her mind organized before we get started with the interior styling process. She had gathered her family the night prior to this conversation and had gone through each portion of the post, notebooks in hand, like a true homework assignment. (Nothing could make me happier haha).
After going through this exercise, Jen confessed that she and her family had gotten hung up on one question in the post: “What are 5 words or phrases I would use to describe my interior decor style?” They were struggling with coming up with the words to describe what they want to go for in their home aesthetic. I told her it’s no big deal at all, some people are better with visuals, so maybe instead of words, find images that describe your style. I can totally work with that!
Fast forward a few days later; Jen stopped by my desk at the office. She had thought of a word to describe her style:
For someone who was struggling to find the words to describe her style, she sure came up with a beautiful one, didn’t she? And it was a visual that inspired it, this photo of me relaxing on my bed from the post I had recommended to her:
Jen told me that this relaxing, cozy visual brought to mind the word “exhale”. And that’s what she and her family want to do when they get home. They want to exhale.
It got me thinking: this really is exactly what we all want to do when we get home. In going through the exercise I had recommended to Jen, she ended up tapping into the most fundamental human thing we all need from our homes, aside from the basic survival need: to have an oasis in which we can shake the day’s stress from our hair and simply exhale.
And I think the key to achieving that “ahh” feeling is take a look at your home experience with a focus on self care.
So how can you make your home a relaxing retreat in which you can really practice some quality self care? Here are 12 ideas to get you started!
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A candlelit night
I don’t know about you, but candles are pretty much an instant mood boost for me. They give a home instant ambiance, and there’s nothing like filling your space with a lovely scent (more on home fragrance a little later here). And I’m a big proponent of going all-out with candles. I really don’t mess around. Pretty much every surface in my apartment that can fit a candle currently has a one. Or a few. I just don’t think you can have too many candles!
Just be careful about lighting a bunch at once. I guess, yes, because of safety, but where I was going with that was more along the lines of cautioning you against fragrance overload.
The last time I lit all the candles in my apartment, the place ended up smelling like a Bath and Body Works. And I don’t know about you, but this 90’s girl’s cucumber melon days are behind me.
Below are the scents that are currently in my apartment right now! I highly recommend each of them for your self care enjoyment. You can just click through the images if any of these tickle your fancy. :-)
2. A decorated bath
A hot bubblebath is a guaranteed way to relax and pamper yourself. And if you’ve spent any time searching for decor inspo on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ve probably noticed that people really are taking their bath time experience to the next level. Surrounding your bath with little visual details such as plants, candles, nicely packages soaps and salts, and even fairy lights is definitely a trend right now.
And I really do think these little decor details enhance the self care experience of a bubble bath.
There’s something about the act of really taking the time to create a full sensory experience for yourself that makes it more than just a way to relax and, of course, get clean. Bath time is an art now! And don’t even get me started on the gorgeous flower bath trend - it’s too pretty for words!
3. De-clutter your space
If my apartment is cluttered, my mind will definitely be cluttered as well. I think it’s impossible to have that “exhale” feeling when coming home to a messy place. There are plenty of benefits to de-cluttering (basically, it’s just good for your brain, your mood, and your productivity). And if you don’t believe me, check out my post 5 Tips for Styling a Studio Apartment and scroll down to #5 to see some side-by-side comparison photos of what my apartment looks like when it’s clean versus when it’s cluttered.
I honestly get stressed just thinking about when I staged the clutter for the sake of the photos for that post. Deep breath, Steffi. Deep breath. And… exhale! ;-)
For a simple and aesthetically pleasing way to de-clutter your space, you can turn to these cute storage options I put together for 5 Tips for Styling a Studio Apartment:
4. Nurture a plant, a fresh bouquet, or a full-on urban jungle
There are plenty of self care benefits to having plants, not to mention they’re simply pretty! And if you have the motivation and patience to really go for it, you can get on board the urban jungle style that’s everywhere right now.
For some awesome examples of the urban jungle trend, take a look at my post 5 Trending Interior Styles & the Instagram Accounts That Do Them Best.
I also think there’s something about surrounding yourself with life, and having to care for it to keep alive, that’s just good for the soul.
5. Practice the hygge lifestyle
I’m so into the mentality and practice of hygge (a Danish approach to life that’s all about coziness and wellbeing) that I wrote a whole post about it a few weeks ago. But I would remiss if I didn’t also mention it here in connection to self care.
I think it’s safe to say that the Danes are the world’s experts on self care - due to many factors of course - and the hygge mindset is believed to be a fundamental aspect of their overall happy existence.
Is hygge just a passing style trend we’re all temporarily latching onto? I actually don’t think so. The Danes are onto something here, and it would be wise of us to continue to take a few lifestyle cues from them.
6. Soft lighting
Lighting is key in achieving a relaxing vibe in your home. In fact, I would venture to say that bad lighting would render every piece of this list ineffective. Think about it: could you imagine walking into a spa with bright, orangey, or God forbid fluorescent lighting? It would ruin the whole relaxing vibe of the spa.
Your home is no different!
I prefer to avoid my apartment’s aggressively yellow overhead lights altogether and just stick to my softly lit lamps. It gives my place the calming ambiance I need to relax.
Below are some lamps you can buy right now that will help you achieve those soft lighting vibes for your self care sanctuary.
7. Relaxing music
At this point, after a little over a month of Moda Misfit’s existence, it’s no secret that I’m obsessed with music. So of course I consider music to be an amazing tool for self care. Playing some nice, low-key, calming music while you sit back and relax on your couch is often just what the doctor ordered.
The playlist I recently put together - Moda Mixtape: Songs for Autumn - is perfect for a chill, Fall night of self care.
Also, lately I’ve been pretty obsessed with listening to relaxing Zelda music on YouTube while I write this blog. Even if you’re not a Legend of Zelda fan, you may find that this lovely background music puts you in the same happy and ultra-focused head space it puts me in. Just try it and see if it does anything for you!
8. Home fragrance
I love walking through my door and being greeted by a wave of pretty fragrance. We all know that scent is such a powerful sense - from its potent connection to our memories to its ability to transport you to another place. A hike through an evergreen forest in Autumn, a sun bath amidst the heady florals of Palm Springs, a night of live music in a whiskey soaked jazz club…
All these places and more can be conjured in your home simply through the power of fragrance.
And you can do this with so much more than just candles; reed diffusers, essential oil diffusers, linen spray… there’s a whole world of home fragrance to discover, and each scent has the ability to unlock its own version of relaxing self care in your home.
What scent is currently diffusing in House Moda Misfit? For the past few months it’s been Antica Farmacista’s Damascena Rose, Orris, & Oud, which is one of my favorite scents of all time. It’s straight up intoxicating.
9. Books and journals
You know that feeling when you walk into a book store? I’m not even sure how to describe it… it’s just that… book store feeling. Growing up, my dad and I would frequent book stores on a regular basis, lurking around the sci-fi/fantasy aisle - which I’m convinced my dad has read the entirety of at this point. And still to this day, when I walk into a book store I get a feeling of happiness and wellbeing just from the environment.
So why not inject a dose of that feeling in your own home?
If you have an extensive book collection, displaying it could create a feeling of comfort in your space. Or if you’re like me and you don’t have the space for a bookcase, decorating with some coffee table books is a great way to have reading material at the ready while also showcasing your interests. For example, as you see pictured below, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, the band Garbage, and the Legend of Zelda totally co-exist in my apartment, an unexpected arrangement that’s just me. This kind of act of self-expression coupled with the constant source of reading material it provides is just good for the psyche.
I also want to mention that coloring books are a great way to practice mindfulness and get yourself in a good head space. I recommend keeping some around whenever you want a way to de-stress!
10. Calming art
We all have certain visuals that put us in a happy head space. I find that the best art to use for self care purposes is art that takes you back to a happy memory or a place you’ve always wanted to visit with which you feel a connection for some indescribable reason. You also can’t go wrong with a beautiful nature photo.
In my apartment, the visuals I’ve used to put myself in that happy headspace come in the form of photos of fog through trees and my favorite songs and musicians.
These visuals make my home feel like mine. And I think that’s a fundamental aspect of creating a relaxing retreat for yourself out of your home; having it be a place that feels truly and singularly yours.
Here are some examples of beautiful, ultra calming wall art from Society6, including the artist responsible for the gorgous foggy trees on my wall, Tordis Kayma. Whatever you happy place is, you’ll find it on Society6.
11. Breakfast in bed
The self care benefits of this one are pretty obvious, aren’t they? I don’t think there is a single act of relaxation and indulgence more perfect than the act of having breakfast in bed. And I think if you’re going to do it, go all out with it!
Make your favorite breakfast, use a pretty serving tray, have some good quality coffee, and just sit back and treat yourself in bed.
When I partake in this act of self care, I usually either turn on a whatever TV show I’m binging at the time, or I’ll watch some anime, or I’ll turn on some relaxing music and zone out. Whatever completes your breakfast in bed fantasy, go for it. You deserve it!
12. Say no, stay in
My introverted heart is SO appreciative that people have started to ease up on the whole “say yes to everything!” approach to life. Now we seem to be catching on to the idea that in order to keep your sanity and sense of balance, saying “no” sometimes is absolutely necessary. One of my favorite bloggers, Beth Kirby of Local Milk, devoted a full podcast episode to this notion, and I highly recommend you listen to it. She basically asserts that every time you say yes to something, that means you are also saying no to something else. You can’t do everything! Life is short and we need to find a way to feel empowered in the act of saying no to the things we really don’t want to do.
If you want to stay in on a Friday night because it sounds completely blissful to you or because your brain is fried from a stressful week at work, take that night for yourself!
It’s so hard to, I know. I hate saying no to people. Plus there’s that ever present FOMO. But I’m learning to deal, and it helps that there are others out there who have started to recognize the value in saying no. So the next time you just want to stay in even though your friends want you to go out, try to to treat it as a self care exercise. Say no to a night out and yes to a night of relaxing and recharging. Your friends will understand, and your brain will thank you!
I’d like to close out by thanking my friend Jen for inspiring this post with her lovely use of the word “exhale” in relation to the experience of home decor. I really do think it all comes down to our need to exhale when we get home, and I’m so excited to help her achieve that calm feeling through her interior styling! I know it’s hard to find the time to take care of ourselves, but I swear, you can use your interior style choices to your benefit in the self care arena.
In your own home, You are likely already surrounded by the means to practice some good quality self care - just take a moment, look around you, appreciate what makes you feel good in your environment, and… exhale.
What are some ways you practice self-care at home? I’d love some ideas! Feel free to share them in the comments. :-)
P.S. I managed to mentioned the Legend of Zelda twice in a post about self care. Only on Moda Misfit haha.
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Hey there! I’m Steffi, creator of Moda Misfit - a lifestyle blog that aims to inspire you to embrace who you are and express your creative self through decor, fashion, & music. We're all Moda Misfits here!