Living

Six New Year’s resolutions for your home

Sira Huwiler-Flamm

In Switzerland, more than one in three people the turn of the year as an opportunity to make good resolutions. It’s also a good time to make your home more attractive, more comfortable and more relaxing – with these tips.

A hand holds a lit sparkler.
© Getty Images/ studio in the wild

In this article

1. Have a clear out – tidy up your home, and your mind

Drawers full of odds and ends, an overloaded closet, a basement full of household trash – almost everyone has “to-do” corners like this in their home. And these tasks preoccupy us. Why not finally draw up a to-do list ready for 1 January? A US study by Baylor University found out 2018 that simply making a list reduces anxiety and stress.

The second step is to work through the items on your list. The good news is that your home will not only be tidier, neater and more comfortable, but you will also be able to relax more afterwards, spend less time searching for things and, according to clear-out experts, go through life feeling less distracted. In other words, clearing out has a positive effect on our peace of mind as well.

You can also give your home a more personal touch thanks to the KonMari method. With her step-by-step instructions, Japanese organizing expert MarieKondō not only explains how to tidy up a home, but also has a very special tip: people should throw out or give away any belongings that don’t correspond to them at all, and only keep things that spark true joy, for instance because they bring back memories.

2. Bring sustainability into your home

“Finally live more consciously and sustainably” – this is something that more and more Swiss people want to achieve. But where to begin? The start of the year is the ideal time to undertake major projects. Replace your old oil or gas heating with a more energy-efficient system, green your carport roof or grow a self-sufficient raised bed instead of buying vegetables from Spain and the Netherlands.

But sustainability can also be implemented by making lots of little everyday changes:

  1. Buy recycled toilet paper instead of the soft, luxury version, opt for second-hand clothes instead of the latest fashions, and look on online marketplaces for used articles.
  2. Start collecting rainwater instead of watering the garden with fresh water.
  3. When shopping, consciously choose regional and seasonal fruit and vegetables: apples instead of mangoes, Brussels sprouts instead of avocado, and meat from the local butcher – to reduce your ecological footprint.
  4. ead books digitally on an e-book reader rather than accumulating hundreds of actual books that have to be printed and delivered, then end up sitting gathering dust on the bookshelf.
  5. Let nature into your garden: leave branches and piles of leaves lying around and grow a flower meadow instead of a trim lawn – and you will be doing hedgehogs, insects and birds a favor.
Colorful piles of leaves are heaped up in a garden.

Living more sustainably doesn’t always have to involve a major alteration – you can do something for local biodiversity simply by leaving a pile of leaves in your garden.

3. Set up a gratitude corner

One in three inhabitants of Switzerland suffers from stress – according to the Job Stress Index 2020 published by Health Promotion Switzerland. According to Basel researchers, the coronavirus pandemic has even increased the feeling of stress this year. Consciously planning little breaks helps us to go through life feeling happier and more relaxed: take a walk through the countryside, enjoy a cup of tea in peace and quiet, chat on the phone for hours with your best friend and reminisce – all these things do you good.

As a New Year’s resolution to help reduce stress, you could also set up a gratitude corner on a dresser, a bedside table or a windowsill. Then just add anything that makes you happy. Place photos of your loved ones and of special moments in your life next to motivating sayings or even whole books. Let the corner remind you of the best moments in your life, for instance with special stones from a walk or other souvenirs.

An extra tip: keep a happiness diary that you fill with three sentences every evening before going to bed:

  1. I am grateful for...
  2. Today I was pleased about...
  3. Tomorrow will be a great day because...

4. Finally make time for a new hobby

Have you always wanted to have a lush orchid garden in your living room, or try out the latest acrylic painting technique at long last? Then just do it! In the past, you had to buy expensive books or attend workshops for every new hobby project. Today the Internet offers unlimited and above all free access to inspiring and instructive descriptions, images and step-by-step videos.

Do you want to discover your green thumb? Then browse for garden blogs. Carmen, a mother of two from Thurgau, gives lots of tips on her page “Ein Schweizer Garten ” (a Swiss garden), for example. Under the hashtag #UrbanJungle, Instagram also offers plenty of ideas for indoor plant enthusiasts.

And nowadays, even those who want to be creative in other ways can find Facebook groups, YouTube tutorials or inspiring pictures and videos on Pinterest or Instagram on almost any topic. The most important thing is to make the New Year’s resolution a success: schedule specific hobby times and a fixed place where you can devote yourself to your occupation in your home. Once the craft table is in place, it’s easier to consciously make time for yourself and your new creative hobby. Besides, you won’t have to clear the project from the dining or kitchen table every mealtime.

5. Eliminate sources of temptation

The Stuttgart psychologist Dr. Matthias Hammer explains in his book “Micro Habits” how we can get rid of harmful habits and establish good ones. He knows that “43 percent of what we do happens unconsciously and purely out of habit.” But once we become aware that external stimuli are prompting these habitual processes, we can work on them.

Do you want to exercise more next year, eat less chocolate or generally have a healthier diet? “Create obvious external signals that draw attention to the things you’ve always wanted to improve: put your running shoes right next to the door, place a fruit bowl instead of cookies in full view on the table and make access to chocolate more difficult, for example by storing unhealthy snacks in the basement,” advises the psychologist. “This makes them harder to get to and, if you’re hesitating, it’s not worth the effort.”

A fruit bowl with mandarins and apples is placed on a wooden dining table.

How to get the pounds to drop: placing a fruit bowl instead of cookies on the table encourages better eating habits.

6. Greater audacity within your own four walls

Are you tempted to add more color or more personality, or to try out a specific style that’s been at the back of your mind for a long time? Be bold and go for it! The biggest advantage of being a homeowner is that you can do whatever you want. Fancy painting a wall in bright cornflower blue, or putting up some floral structured wallpaper? What’s the worst that could happen? There’s no landlord to veto your decision, and if you don’t like the result after all, you can gradually redecorate and adopt another style in each room.

Conclusion: good resolutions for a home you can be proud of

Just because all your friends have furnished their homes in a simple country house style doesn’t mean you have to stick with white and gray tones. Be bold and express yourself fully within your own four walls – if not here, where else can you do so? Create a home that’s completely adapted to your needs. And if you’ve been thinking about making changes for a while now, take advantage of the turn of the year to make good resolutions – and put them into practice.

According to ancient Indian wisdom, “A house is built, but a home is made.” And if you feel fulfilled, you will also be more comfortable and secure, and able to enjoy your own personal nest with pride.

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