5 steps to creating a stress-free space

Stress free space Smack Bang Designs studio

Jade is our studio manager/copywriter, and she is usually cool and calm as they come but like the rest of us, stress seems to creep its way into her busy life – full-time work, freelance writing on the side, planning a wedding, renovating and taking care of her baby dog will do that to a girl! In a bid to ring in the new year sans the stress, we asked Jade to help a mate out and share her simple tips on creating a zen environment and as a result, a much more zen you. Take it away, Jade!

I love it when a new year rolls around. It feels like the universe is giving you a chance to clean out the cobwebs, start fresh and dedicate the next 365 days to being an all-round better human. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “new year, new me” kinda gal, but what I do like to do is sit down with my notebook and coffee (giving up my daily cuppa or three is deffo not on the resolution cards), and write down what I want more of/less of this year and beyond, and of those standout bullet points on my ‘less of’ list was, stress.

Every year I vow to plan better, to not take on so much, to not let situations get the better of me and every year I have not-so-gracefully failed. But this year will be different, and I made a pact with my fiance to prove it. 2018 will still be busy but in a good way, not a stressy, rushed, someone-please-help-me-I’m-drowning kind of way, because as far as symptoms of stress go, I get the lot– I feel drained, I get cranky, I can’t focus, I go on sugar binges, my skin breaks out… I really become my own worst enemy (and my lovely fiance’s worst nightmare – where did that sweet Jade go?!).

So, to not stress ourselves out about stressing ourselves out, I thought it was best to start small, and with the things that are totally in our control – our physical environments. The space in which we inhabit daily, believe it or not, has an effect on our cortisol levels so listen up stress heads as I share five easy steps to creating a stress-free environment:

    When I’m feeling like a total mess, I take a look around and without a doubt, my surroundings look like as sad and sorrow as my attitude – my plants are dead, my floor is now a floordrobe, there’s not a single clean fork and we are now resorting to eating our scrambled eggs with spoons. True story. The fact is, your schedule isn’t going to magically clear up. What you can do to keep some of those stress levels at bay is to clean up your space, not a quick tidy, but actually clear out all the crap. I know you’ve probably heard this tip 1,001 times, but if you really tidy up (I mean a full-blown Marie Kondo style throw out. Get rid of all that junk in your trunk you no longer use, clean the floors, dust etc.), this will allow your mind to give a big exhale and propel you into a state of control, rather than that hot mess you so often find yourself.Next time you’re feeling like your stress is at an all-time high and your creative juices are at an all-time low, try tidying your surroundings and enjoy the instant gratification.
    We email, we text, we google, we chat, we film, we photograph, we post, we scroll and we repeat… until the day we die. Sounds grim, but it’s kinda true. Our smartphones are glued to our ears and/or thumbs and I for one am crazy for my iPhone 7 plus – it’s XL screen means I can read emails with ease, scroll for days, post like no one’s bizniz, and, like any modern woman (or man), I rely heavily on this piece of tech to stay informed, updated, and basically keep my life in check. That is, except when I’m in my nook – the little sanctuary I have created at home where I can chill out, unwind and read from an actual book! This nook means a great deal to me. It’s the perfect little spot on my patio that allows me to get some guilt-free quiet time and soak up some needed Vitamin D. And the best part? No phones allowed. ‘Switching off’ lets your brain to take that much-needed breather. There are no pressures of emails, social envy or distractions, just you, in your favourite spot, allowing yourself to unwind and recharge. Tip: Got a tiny space eg. just your bedroom? There’s nothing wrong with dedicating a quiet corner in your room or better yet, invest in a floor cushion where you can sit, relax and recharge anywhere you like!
    If I only took away one thing from Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, it would be to get rid of any items that don’t spark joy and to display items that do. It seems so blooming obvious but it’s funny how we are constantly “saving for good”, or putting our favourite and most useful objects away. Why not use those beautiful plates you got for your housewarming? Who says you can’t showcase those sculptural Holly Ryan earrings like a piece of art or leave your favourite, handmade mug on the counter as a reminder of all the delicious coffees you’ve had and are going to have? No one. Walk around your home, collect the things you hate and chuck them straight in the bin (or ideally donate), and place all the things you love on display, in the places they were born to be. Decluttering this way is 100% guaranteed to lower those cortisol levels as you’ll have tiny pockets of things that make you happy, scattered all over your home.
    As humans, we are suckers for aesthetics. Hell, Smack Bang has made a living out of creating damn fine looking brands, but it’s when you look at the whole package – how things look, feel, taste, smell and sound – collectively, they all have a huge impact on our mood and emotions. For me, scent, in particular, can really alter my mood, and for this reason, I constantly have a candle burning, and being a writer, I’m a sucker for Byredo’s Bibliotheque (it transports me to a beautiful old library, just as it says on the label), puts me into a positive state of mind to either tackle my to-do list or to simply just relax. Even if you skip steps 1-3 and you’re looking for an instant “quick fix”, try lighting your favourite candle, have a glass of wine, put on some killer tunes and flick through a magazine, even for a moment. You’ll soon feel the impact that these little delights have on your mood.
    It’s no secret we can’t get enough of all things green and leafy around the studio, but our love of plants is not just built on looks alone, it’s also their magical mood-altering benefits. Just ask our mate and plant advocate, Norma Lehmeier Hartie. She is the author of Harmonious Environment, a book that hails greenery as a main factor in reducing stress and increasing wellbeing, along with a long list of resources and studies to back it up.Aesthetically speaking, plants are great desk companions but more to the point, there are plenty of studies that are backing up the fact that nature has a positive impact on our emotions and by adding a few plants to your home or surroundings, this can help to reduce stress levels, boost concentration, as well as having other positive psychological benefits. Go forth, get some plants and reap the benefits of surrounding yourself with a posse of green friends.

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