Adapting to a Major Life Event

We may not be able to control what happens outside, but inside our homes we have the power to create a living space that invites both organization and relaxation. And it might just make the world outside of our control feel a little less chaotic.

Guest Contributor

February 1, 2021

6 min read

Change is the only constant in life--sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, always disruptive. Major life events can have a profound impact on our day-to-day routine. Think marriage, divorce, having children, the loss of a loved one, moving cross country (or across the globe), new job, new school, or (as was the case in 2020) a global pandemic.

The uncertainty of change is one of the major reasons we struggle to adapt or sometimes even accept that these events are happening. Interior design is not a panacea for cognitive dissonance, but providing organization and structure is an important step in adapting to a major life event.

We may not be able to control what happens outside, but inside our homes we have the power to create a living space that invites both organization and relaxation. And it might just make the world outside of our control feel a little less chaotic.

Plan with Organization in Mind

There’s something to be said about the “out of sight, out of mind” principle. A pile of dishes, overflowing shelves, and scattered pillows or throw rugs in your home only add to the stress. The solution here is not, however, to figuratively and literally shove everything under a rug or in the garage.

We recommend adopting a minimalist approach that not only hides the mess, but that keeps your space organized in the long run. One option is to invest in plenty of storage, like this large dresser or desk with built-in drawers. Ensuring that everything has a place makes your space easier to manage. And knowing exactly where items are stored reduces uncertainty.

The second option to creating a clutter-free living space is to throw away what’s no longer needed and only showcase what you love. This way, instead of walking through the front door and being confronted by mess, you walk into a space filled with the items you enjoy. Embrace the Marie Kondo method and surround your home with the things that matter to you.

Organizing might mean more work now, but the pay-off is a worry-free future. Trust us, a few hours to plan and declutter is definitely worth it.

Leave Room for Self Care

Emotionally and physically, this means maintaining a healthy diet, daily exercise, lots of sleep, and adhering to a regular work-life schedule.

In interior design terms, this means literal rooms or nooks throughout your home for designated activities. Many of us have already had to carve out personal or semi-personal spaces during the nationwide shutdowns just to stay sane. This is especially true for large families or groups of roommates who suddenly found themselves trapped under one roof from morning to night.

Your self care room might simply be your individual bedroom, where you can rearrange things to help encourage healthy sleep patterns and peace of mind. Maybe you look into incorporating some feng shui bedroom elements or stick to a soothing color palette.

On the other hand, your self care room might not be a room at all. It might be a cozy reading nook, or a chair in the backyard that overlooks your flowerbed, a weekend of face masks and aromatherapy, or even a weekly conversation with a therapist. And depending on the job, you might feel most at-ease when completing projects from your perfect work from home setup.

The goal is simply to carve out some metaphorical and literal space where you can set aside future concerns and focus on the here and now.

Bring the Outdoors In

It’s no secret that spending time outdoors reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. For people unable to go on long mountain treks, you can pace around in the backyard and breathe in the (relatively) fresh air. For people without a yard or garden, we suggest bringing the sights and sounds of the outdoors in.

Start a balcony flower garden and plant some kitchen herbs. Or go big with a collection of indoor trees and transform your living space into a functioning greenhouse.

But note: this shouldn’t be another chore. If it’s difficult or stressful to take care of them, that’s a sign to either reduce the amount of indoor greenery or switch to easy-to-care-for succulents like the popular “air plants,” a hardy variety from Central and South America that doesn’t even need soil. Listening to the sounds of nature, like birdsong or the rustling of leaves, can also have a soothing effect. One study found that one-minute of woodland noises induced greater relaxation than one-minute of meditation. So turn on a nature sounds playlist, close your eyes, and succumb to the tranquility.

In conclusion, adapting to major change is never easy. But a durable, comforting ship can help turn the stress of navigating uncertain waters into a positive adventure.