Your home is your sanctuary and that has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. As officials urge people to stay in their homes as much as possible and warn of spikes in infection rates that could send everyone back into mandatory quarantines, everyone is realizing how important the state of their home is to their wellbeing. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can optimize your home for a healthier you.
From tips to make your home healthier such as ridding it of toxins and changing air filters to ways to cater rooms in your home to your health goals, you can start optimizing your home for your health any day of the week. Let’s take a look at a few of the most useful tips to make your home healthier and improve your overall wellbeing at the same time.
Prevent Mold from Growing
Mold is a common problem in many homes across the country. This fungus grows when it has moisture and food. Most often it finds these things in areas like the basement, bathroom, and kitchen. In homes with poor insulation, moisture can even condense on the home’s exterior walls and mold can grow on the paper surface of drywall.
While most people are exposed to a small amount of mold every day and it doesn’t cause any harm, long-term exposure to significant amounts of mold can cause a variety of health issues. These issues can include coughing, wheezing, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, throat irritation, and skin irritation in some people. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others, especially those with conditions like asthma.
To make your home healthier and protect yourself and your family from mold, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to prevent it from growing in your home. First, check around your plumbing fixtures for leaks and around the windows for condensation. These sources of water are very enticing to mold and can lead to its growth. If you find that your plumbing is leaking, call a residential plumbing expert to help you stop the leakage. If the water problem is around your windows rather than your plumbing, you can look into installing new windows with better seals that prevent condensation.
If your home is old and doesn’t have good insulation, consider upgrading the drywall with new panels that have special coatings to rebuff moisture and mold from both sides. For mold problems in the basement, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels down and prevent mold growth there. In your bathroom and kitchen, make sure that the exhaust fans have clean filters and work properly to reduce the condensation that leads to mold growth.
Use Low-VOC Products
A variety of products in our homes are full of Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These chemical compounds have a high vapor pressure at standard room temperature and pose some dangers to your health. Some may cause cancer and others react with other gases to create air pollutants. Common products that have VOCs are cleaners, nail polishes, personal car products, and paint. Even plug-in air fresheners can have VOCs and pump them directly into your home.
When you purchase cleaning products and personal products, check the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). This helpful source of information tells you what exactly is in the product and how you can use it safely. For instance, the sheets instruct you to ventilate a room after you use an air freshener, which many people don’t do. When you’re painting a room in your home or sealing wood, choose products that emit low or no VOCs. You can typically check the labels on paints, stains, and seals to see whether they are low-VOC. By being conscious of the VOCs present in your home’s products, you can make your home healthier.
Install an Energy-Efficient Roof
The spring and summer are the perfect time for homeowners to replace their roof. In general, your home’s roof should be replaced every 15 to 20 years. If you don’t know the last time your roof was replaced, it’s probably time to call up a residential roofer to do the job for you. As you’re picking out your new roof, consider using energy-efficient roofing materials.
Certain materials and installation practices can help reduce energy use in a few different ways. The first is that they can improve your attic’s ventilation. A well-ventilated attic can make your home healthier by reducing dust, debris, and pollutants that negatively affect your home’s indoor air quality. An energy-efficient roof will also conserve resources and maximize the use of recycled materials, allowing you to do good for the environment while you provide your home with a new roof.
Adjust the Lighting and Temperature in Your Home
This is one of the easiest and most affordable changes you can make in your home for a healthier you. Studies have shown that artificial or poor lighting can have a negative effect on your cortisol levels, causing you to get tired earlier in the day. You can make the energy levels in your home feel more stable throughout the day by getting enough good light into your home. Open up the curtains or blinds on your windows to let natural light shine into your home whenever possible. If your home doesn’t get good natural light, invest in lightbulbs that mimic daylight for your lamps.
The temperature of your home affects your happiness and productivity just like the lighting does. Scientists at Cornell found that workers performing in 68 degrees Fahrenheit or below made 44% more mistakes than those who worked in an optimal room temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This often occurs because your focus is on keeping warm and you have less energy to direct to your health and concentration.
Set your thermostat to around 77 degrees, or whatever temperature you’re most comfortable at, to feel like your best self throughout the day. If you have a smart thermostat, it will connect to your HVAC system and direct it to cool or heat your home according to your liking at various times of the day. If you know that the house is always a little colder than you like when you get home from work, you can program the thermostat to turn on the heating when you leave your workplace, giving you a perfectly comfortable environment to come home to.
Make Changes in the Kitchen for Healthier Eating Habits
The kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s where you store your food, make your meals, and bond together as a family. You can make your home healthier, and therefore yourself healthier, through small changes in your kitchen. Start with putting away your larger dinner plates and bowls for dinner parties or special occasions. Larger plate sizes can make portions look smaller, causing you to pile more food on the plate and overeat. By keeping smaller plates and bowls in your cupboards and using those for meals, your portions will look smaller and you’ll have better control over eating until you’re pleasantly full, not uncomfortably stuffed. Taking out the larger plates will also help declutter your cabinets, which can help you feel more organized and less stressed.
You can also reorganize your pantry to encourage better eating habits. Try putting your more unhealthy snacks or junk food in the back of the pantry and bringing the healthier options up to the front. When the unhealthy snacks are out of sight or hard to reach, you’ll be less likely to eat them. When you do pull them out for a treat, remember to put the appropriate portion size on a plate or bowl. When you eat directly out of the container, it’s easier to eat too much.
While you’re focused on the kitchen, think about how you consume water as well. Staying hydrated is important for your health during all seasons, not just the sweltering summer. Water can also help you stop overeating as it fills up space in your stomach. Optimize your water consumption by keeping cold, filtered water ready to go in the fridge. Whether your tap water is connected to water well services or the municipal water supply, you can make it healthier by using a water filter and drinking directly from that. This is also preferable to buying bottled water from the store, as the plastic bottles are harmful to the environment.
Create Workout Spaces in Your Home
The recent coronavirus pandemic has caused gyms and fitness centers around the country to close their doors, disrupting the workout routines of people everywhere. This disruption can be more than just a simple inconvenience to those who are used to exercising. Many people rely on their workout routines to manage a mental health condition, like depression and anxiety, or a drug or alcohol addiction. Without the ability to direct their thoughts and abilities into their workout, people with addictions or mental health issues may find themselves falling into unhealthy patterns and habits once again.
While it may not be the same as going to a gym, you can create workout spaces in your home to maintain your exercise routine and make your home healthier for you. Try converting a room you don’t use much into your workout space. This could be a guest room that hasn’t seen a guest in months, the bedroom of a child who’s moved out, or a family room you never spend time in. You could even turn your garage into your personal gym. Park the car outside, clear out enough space for your workout, and set up your equipment. If you don’t mind the possibility of your neighbors peeking in, open up the garage doors for fresh air and natural light. Be sure to contact a professional if you need garage door spring repair in order to do this. Otherwise, you may find yourself unhappily working out in a dark garage when you need light and fresh air to thrive.
Another great way to work out at home is with a swimming pool. Swimming is a great form of exercise, as it utilizes many of your body’s muscles, gets your heart rate up and blood pumping, and doesn’t put pressure on your joints and bones. It’s also easy to get the whole family exercising when you have a pool, as kids love fun pool games and activities. If you don’t have one, consider getting a swimming pool before summer kicks into high gear. If you do have one but don’t use it much, contact professional pool cleaners to get it up to par before your family jumps in.
Designate a Space for Solitude
Making time for yourself is essential for your health. During this time your brain can disconnect from others and their problems and you can instead check in with yourself. To help you make this time for yourself and make your home healthier for you, create a space dedicated to solitude in your home. If you can, designate an entire room to this. Keep it free from electronic distractions and decorate it with comfortable furniture and decor that you find relaxing.
You can choose to keep this room fairly bare so that you can focus on just thinking and meditating without distractions. Alternatively, you could dedicate it to your favorite hobby or creative pursuit. If you want to use the space for reading or writing, put a bookcase in there with any supplies that you need. If you have a hands-on project you want to pursue, such as making soaps or candles, dedicate the room to that project. You can purchase the best soap making equipment or candle making supplies and keep them in this room. Whenever you’re in this room, you’ll know that you can block out all other distractions and focus on your project.
If you don’t have an extra room to spare for solitude, optimize an existing space in your home for your solitude. You could claim a corner of the living room as your reading space and place a comfortable chair there. If you feel most at peace when getting ready in the morning in the bathroom, make sure your bathroom is optimized for that sense of calm. Not only is it the place where you’ll take care of your dental health, skin health, and hair health, but you can use it to take relaxing baths. You can make your home healthier by focusing on this one room, as it fulfills both your practical and recreational health needs.
There is an endless number of ways you can make your home healthier. Whether you want to focus on big changes like mold prevention or small adjustments like letting in more natural light, you have the ability to make your home healthier. In turn, this will make you and your family healthier. Use these tips to take that step towards a healthy life and being the best you that you can be.