Today we're going to talk about making your home a calm, peaceful retreat from the world. I Googled "Everything Zen" and enjoyed reminiscing about seeing Bush at Woodstock '99. Holy cow, they were loud! What a great band. My time living in Portsmouth, washing dishes at some restaurant, is truly the flash-back I have when I listen to that album. I honestly have no idea if that song has anything to do with being calm. From the guitar riffs, one would think not. Trip down memory lane aside (Go check out Bush if you have never heard them before!) let's dig in and discuss a few ways to "peace-out" your home and soothe the senses. After this scary weekend, it's time.

We visited some friends who have two small children. I think they're around 6 or 7-years-old. Overall, I really don't like kids. This visit was no exception. When we walked out the front door the following morning, all I could think about was how silent the neighborhood was and how peaceful the car was. It was truly exhausting being there. I'm sure the kids (who were objectively pretty good kids) were excited about company, but they really have no volume knob. The house was the furthest thing from "zen" that I could imagine. Moving on.

One of the best ways to make your home more peaceful is to green it up. Studies have shown that plants help make your home feel calmer and ease anxiety. Some plants have specific "healing" qualities. Jasmine and English ivy improve sleep, lavender and rosemary help lower stress and many plants simply improve the air quality. "Even beyond the science-y stuff, having living plants in the home just feels good," notes Badger Realty agent, David Cianciolo. "I know whenever I walk into a home that has an abundance of greenery, the air feels better and the home feels more alive," he continued.

You know by now that clutter makes my eye twitch. I think I was a cat in a previous life because I hate clutter so much I have a burning desire to start whacking things off the counters! As someone who has done some research on anxiety and stress, a cluttered home (or area) almost always increases those feelings. Because of the messy (cluttered) look and feel of the area, it creates feelings of helplessness and loss of control. I know that sounds pretty serious, but think about how you feel when you watch one of those hoarding shows. Clean up the home and it'll help ease up your mind.

This next one may seem obvious, but hide the electronics. We can't escape them. Electronics are deeply integrated into our daily lives whether we like it or not. We're almost to the point where we won't be able to make simple purchases without electronics. In your home, you do have far more control. And I'm not suggesting that you need to throw out your TV, computer, phone, tablet, laptop or electronic rolodex (are those still a thing?). The goal here is to minimize their visibility.

I've moved my desk more times than I want to remember in the last couple years. I finally got one of those fancy electronic standing desks this time. Every time I move it, I spend the extra 10 minutes using zip-ties to tidy up all the wires. With three monitors, a keyboard and phone chargers, things get messy pretty quick. The benefit is I can walk into the office and just see my work devices. All the wires are tucked away. I encourage you to follow suit and see if there are other areas you can tidy up. If you have phone chargers in the kitchen, tie up the cords. The less electronic noise you see, the less your home will feel like an office!

De-busy your walls and floors. I mostly wanted to say "de-busy" because it sounded fun. Hopefully there are no English majors out there! Solid patterns are (seemingly obviously) more calm and soothing than busy ones. Small, sparse dots or herringbone patterns are understated and tolerable. Once you start getting into fancy, traditional Eastern rug patterns, you're starting to lose the zen. I think it goes without saying that if you are still rocking your grandmother's wallpaper, it's time for a change.

The last, but coolest and fairly surprising, idea for creating a more serene home that I found was getting a pet. Obviously if you have ever raised a dog from a puppy, you know this is a far cry from "peaceful." That said, pets have been shown over and over again to lower stress and even lower blood pressure. I have always been a cat guy, mostly because I am not around enough to want to deal with a dog. Every time I sit on the couch, my cats have been quick to find my lap and curl up. I can't think of anything more peaceful than that. My last cat was named "Remy" after the former Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy. He grew my love for the game through his insightful announcing with Don Orsillo and almost always made us laugh during the game. Both Remys are now passed and both are greatly missed.

Creating a peaceful home should be a goal for us all. While I'm not what would be considered a "homebody," I really do appreciate coming home to a clutter-free, calm home. I encourage you to take a cruise around your home today and see if there are small ways you can "zen" up your home (or would that be zen "out"?). Either way, happy peacefulness!

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