Architecting your Environment

After a long late Spring with nearly daily rain (hello global warming), we finally have a real summer here in Munich. Saturday was the day to finally put my winter clothing in storage and replace it with my spring and summer favorites. I don’t know about you, but seasonal cleaning feels to me like a detox and reset. Once I apply the 2 year rule to keeping or discarding my clothing items, I move into other rooms of my house to prune and simplify my surroundings. Seasonal cleaning can be a lot more than simply moving our possessions from one room to another, and cleaning and sprucing the hard-to-clean spots. It can be part of a quarterly or semi-annual process to check in with how we see ourselves at this phase in our life, what we value most or are trying to create, and asking ourselves if our physical environment encourage that.

Seem weird for a health coach/wellpreneur to talk about interior design? Hear me out...

Take a look around the environments that you spend the most time – the kitchen, your bedroom, office or the bathroom. And then ask yourself if an outside observer checked out our space, what would they think about you? Your values? How healthy you are? How successful you are at achieving what you want in life? How much you care and respect you have for yourself or your body? Your level of happiness and fulfillment?

Our minds are highly affected by our environment. If you think this isn’t the case, I invite you to close your eyes and visualize and feel what it is like to be in an art museum surrounded by your favorite artists? or at your favorite yoga studio? or at that great new juice bar in town? While you can perhaps point to specific items you like in the decor, it’s more about the feelings they evoke. Who you are when you are there.

Cool design can indeed go hand-in-hand with evolving our values, identities and big life goals.

Specific spaces bring about specific feelings and behaviors. We can use this to architect our most intimate spaces - our homes - to encourage the kind of feelings and behaviors we want more of. I call this architecting our environment in my health coaching courses.

architect: (verb) design and configure (a program or system).

environment: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded

Your Space + Identity

Let’s start with the kitchen. Walk in, and ask yourself what a third party observer would think about how you care for your body and health (and those you care for)? Is your refrigerator a strange hodgepodge of forgotten fruits and vegetables you were hoping you would cook? Or completely empty? Are your snacks, chocolate bars or easy go-to empty calories front-and-center in your cupboards? Do your drawers contain expired spices, crappy plastic tupperware or old toxic pans?

Do you desire to be a person who nourishes his/her body like you would a person you deeply love? Then throw out that crap and ask yourself how that kind of person would architect their kitchen? For me, that means fruits and veggies and other healthy goodness I want to be eating is fresh, regularly stocked and readily accessible. I choose a day every week to make sauces I may need, cut or prepare vegetables I need in a pinch and stock them in the fridge so it can’t be missed when I open it. Chocolates and snacks are in high-up, hard to reach places — not totally off limits but not right at my eyes view either.

The bedroom… Assuming you have more than one room in your space, your bedroom is a place that you.. well.. sleep. Look around.. Does your space encourage rest? How is the lighting - is it warm light that makes you chiiiillll out, or is it blue light that keeps you up and antsy? Do you have books, candles or your fave essential oil diffuser on your bedside table that reflect the need to wind down after a long day of winding up? Does your bed look made, comfortable and inviting - like you value your bodies need for relaxation and sleep? What works for you to get your zen on before you go to sleep? Design this into your space.

Make space for spirit. If your meditation, yoga or spiritual practice is something that you value, or want to develop deeper, there ought to be physical evidence of that in your home. Consider having an altar, paintings or images that remind you that this matters to you in a place where you see it. I got an altar that fits with my mid century decor here that I think is pretty cool. Altars aren’t just for weird 1970s ashrams anymore. They can be cool looking too. Quotes, sculptures, or candles and flowers you must regularly tend to can be a powerful reminder to stay on track with whatever practices float your spiritual boat.

Office/work/dharma. We all desire purpose in our lives. We want to use our skills in the best way possible and feel that what we do matters. Sure a home office needs the basics - computer, printer, notepads, post-its, etc., and it’s nice if they are clean and well organized but does your office reflect what you most value about your work? Does it contain images or reminders of what you big, beautiful goals are beyond the mundane day-to-day? I personally need plenty of reminders and sources of inspiration or it’s really easy for me to sink into non-sparky business-as-usual mode. Need ideas on how to design your bad-ass work self into your space? I have an annual goal chalkboard and chalk nearby as reminders and to track my projects. You could also have a vision board or sticky board for inspiring quotes or photos of the people you most admire.. it’s like they are shining down on you and offering your support. This shit works!

Ready to give your space a spring detox and reboot? Here are a few final tips to consider as you purge and redesign:

  • Useful things that support what you value and the person you are evolving into should be visible and easy to find.

  • Be vigilant about what you buy. Having things that are neither pretty nor useful are just a physic drain on your limited energy.

  • Give yourself permission to let go of material possessions that reflect an old you. In the words of Marie Kondo, if it doesn’t bring you joy (and I would add support your visions, values and goals) get rid of it.

  • Put symbols or images in your line of sight that reinforce who you are evolving into and what you value

  • Clean clutter that has nothing to do with the plans and dreams you want out of life so that whatever is present has meaning and supports your dreams

Want to be the person you want to have in your life? For me, that started with looking deeply at my daily habits.. and learning how to design them for how I wanted to feel. My 10 week coaching courses focus on developing daily morning and evening routines, meditation, exercise and self care so you can wake up in the most rested, energized and physically and mentally fit version of yourself. It is what we do daily that matters most. My next course is fully online and starts July 22nd. I tend to attract interesting and kick ass people who want to support and lean into other interesting and kick ass people. Call or email me to learn more.

Kari Zabel