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If you’re unwell, stressed, or sleeping poorly, these tips can help you make your space as soothing as possible.

| By Bella Westaway | Wellness

I Spent Last Year Sick in Bed. Here’s How I Made My Space a Healing Sanctuary

If you’re unwell, stressed, or sleeping poorly, these tips can help you make your space as soothing as possible.

I spent large parts of last year sick in bed. In the space of six months, I had covid, then a knee injury which triggered a blood clot, then covid again, and then the flu. I then developed long covid, which is quite possibly the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, and was chronically ill for six more months.

Not a great year, if I’m honest.

But my recovery taught me so much about healing – about taking care of my body and mind, about creating a home environment that not only looks beautiful but supports my health.

It’s no secret that our environment impacts our health and wellbeing. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, our built environment determines – at least in part – our “access to nutritious food, the houses we live in, where we work, contact with nature and the spaces we have for social interactions.”

Additionally, our home environment can influence everything from our levels of stress to our ability to relax and the quality of our sleep. These things are key when you’re recovering from illness, but they’re also essential for general wellbeing and your ability to thrive!

In my delightful year of unwellness, when every weekend saw me prone in bed after a mere whiff of social interaction – seriously, going for a coffee would leave me feeling like I’d partied all night (in a bad way) – I made several key changes to my space. They’re not hard – I didn’t have the energy for hard – but they’re impactful.

If you’ve been unwell, tired, sleeping poorly or are just looking to make your space as stress-free and soothing as possible, give them a try. I can’t guarantee they’ll cure any illnesses, but they sure won’t hurt!

Make your bed as dreamy as possible

In my early twenties, I never really invested in my bed. I had a duvet I “borrowed” from my mum's place when I first moved out, an average mattress and pillows I really hated but had bought too recently to replace. My only splurge was Bed Threads sheets because, well, obviously.

I was told by my doctor that good sleep was key to my recovery, so I set out to create a bed that supported that. I got a mattress topper, a new pillow (just for me lol, my fiancé is stuck with the crappy ones), and a good quality King-size duvet (I have a Queen bed). This meant replacing my Queen duvet covers, but honestly, it was so worth it! My bed feels like a cloud! Or a hotel bed! Snuggled up like a little burrito, I’m sleeping so much better than before.

Get a diffuser

I bought my diffuser on a whim during covid after watching some influencer video about the benefits of essential oils. I’m only partially into ‘woo woo’ stuff, but when I was sick, I leaned in hard. I’d diffuse peppermint when I had a headache, lavender to help me sleep, and eucalyptus when my sinuses were blocked. I also got this blend called ‘anxiety’, which – you guessed it! – I used when I was feeling anxious. It really helped. It might be a placebo but honestly, I don’t care! Highly recommend.

Get blockout blinds

Whenever I’m on holiday in some rural seaside town or farm-type place, I sleep so well. And I reckon it’s because the room is so, so dark.

My room, on the other hand, has a glorious view of next door’s carpark, which glows spectacularly all night long. It’s not even on a sensor. I know. Don’t get me started.

To combat this, we invested in some pretty ugly but gloriously practical blockout blinds. Kids, this is what adulting looks like. I still hate how they look but they work like a dream. Our room is so dark I can’t see my hand in front of my face, and this has definitely improved my sleep. We’ll eventually add some sheer curtains to cover them up and I’ll have nothing left to complain about.

Clean up

“Outer order, inner calm,” says Gretchen Rubin, a New York Times bestselling author who writes about habits and happiness. I’m into this. Last weekend I re-organised my bathroom cabinet and I’m still getting a soft buzz of contentedness every time I brush my teeth.

I had so little energy during this time, but I still made sure to tidy my space a little each day and a lot each weekend. It took A LOT out of me, but it was worth it, because then I could truly relax in a space that felt restorative.

Rely on 'The Chair'

Like many of us, I have 'The Chair'. You know, the chair where you dump all your stuff each day and clean up on the weekend? For me, 'The Chair' contains: clothes that I’ve worn that aren’t dirty enough for the wash, dressing gowns, bags, and other miscellaneous items. If you don’t have 'The Chair', get one – it’ll save you from your floordrobe!

Okay, now we all have 'The Chair', rely on it – it’ll do a lot of heavy lifting. I’m okay in my space if it’s tidy aside from 'The Chair', which looks like a bargain bin at an op shop. Cover it with a robe or a coat and voila! A tidy room.

Add some ambience

Did you know that good lighting is scientifically proven to make you healthier, happier and more attractive? Yeah, I made that up but it could reasonably be true.

Ambient lighting is so key in a bedroom, especially when you’re feeling sick. We have mirrored wardrobes and a feature mirror in our room, so there’s a lot of, erm, visibility. Adding a lamp, lighting some candles and setting the mood (not THAT mood, I’m sick remember), can be such a nice way to create a sanctuary vibe. Turn on your diffuser and you’re basically in a yoga class.

Add some nature

In my perfect home, I’d have a gigantic indoor tree right through the centre, bringing nature in and giving me a great excuse to never leave. In my current space, I have to settle for a cheeky pot plant or two. Plants are an amazing addition to your bedroom if you’re looking for health benefits – they cleanse the air, add a dose of nature and look darn fine. I don’t have much of a green thumb (I’m FAR too busy scrolling Instagram to water my plants) so I’ve chosen low-maintenance options such as Monstera and succulents to spruce things up.

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