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Create a Relaxing Home Oasis
By Kate Safin

Our homes and living spaces should be a place where we can retreat from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life and feel safe, serene, and at peace. Having a place to relax is important for overall health.

Reduce stuff to reduce stress
The physical stimuli created by clutter bombards our brains with signals that our work isn’t done, creating stress and anxiety. Mess can also make us feel guilty, embarrassed, or frustrated. Tackling a messy home may further contribute to our anxiety, giving us a sense that the job is too big and will never get done. But clearing away clutter is key to create a serene space. Taking 10-20 minutes a day to focus on one category of stuff or one room at a time is a gradual way to clear out excess or find tidy ways to organize the items we already have. Embrace letting go of physical things and donating them to a better cause as a source of stress relief, rather than a big task.

Use non-toxic cleaners
Once you’ve cleared away the clutter, you’ll likely be inspired to give your home a deep clean. Bleach, formaldehyde, phosphates, and phthalates found in many home cleaners are extremely toxic. Harness the cleaning powers of simple household items like vinegar and baking soda instead.

Enhance indoor air quality
Houseplants are very effective at absorbing toxins. Adding a few around the house is a simple way to improve air quality (with the added bonus of creating natural décor!). Aloe Vera, Snake Plants, Tulips, Gerber Daisy, and Rubber Trees are a few indoor plants that are relatively easy to maintain. (Some plants can be toxic to pets, so use caution if you have animals in your home). Himalayan salt lamps also purify the air, removing microscopic particles of dust, mold, mildew, and pet dander through hygroscopy (attracting and holding water molecules). The soft glow they generate also adds a cozy ambiance.

Add aromatherapy
Scent is a powerful way to improve mood, reduce stress, and boost mental clarity. A small diffuser with a few drops of essential oils will provide clean, naturally derived aromas. Citrus scents like lemon and grapefruit are uplifting, peppermint can ease headaches and relieve stress, and lavender remains a tried-and-true calming scent. (Again, if you have pets, proceed with caution, as some essential oils are harmful to animals).

Sip away stress
Now that you’ve decluttered, cleaned up, and boosted the air quality of your home, enjoy your refreshed indoor oasis by sitting back and curling up with a cup of herbal tea. Chamomile, peppermint, and lemon balm are all great selections for stress relief and are delicious hot or iced.

East End Food Co-op is the last natural foods co-op left in Pittsburgh from those original, back-to- nature stores. The Co-op offers all of the products of a full-service grocery store, but with a natural and local touch. For more information, visit www.eastendfood.coop.

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