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By Pam Dewey • self care, self care at home, self care sanctuary, how to do self-care, mental health care, caring for your mental health, making art, art therapy, exercise is self care, physical health tied to mental health, self care tips, self care ideas, self care is mental health care • November 12, 2020

Creating a comfortable, cozy space at home is important for your mental health, particularly during long Minnesota winters. Here are five ways you can create a self-care sanctuary at home.

1. Create a place to exercise

Exercise is good for your mental health. It releases chemicals in your body like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals increase good feelings in your body. Try setting up space in an extra bedroom or a corner of the basement. You might want to purchase a treadmill, an elliptical machine or weights. You can find used exercise equipment on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

Many workouts don’t require equipment, so you can exercise almost anywhere, as long as you have space to move around. Places like CorePower Yoga are offering a free trial of their online yoga and meditation classes. There are a plethora of exercise videos on YouTube. Or maybe you want to learn how to box.

2. Organize your space

A home should feel relaxing and comfortable, but one filled with clutter can feel like the opposite. Try organizing a room where you spend a lot of time, like your living room. Consider adding a few baskets or a storage ottoman. You can put throw blankets, magazines, newspapers and other loose items into a basket. Ottomans can also store games and offer additional seating. You may also want to switch your coffee table. A coffee table with storage, whether that’s a couple of shelves or a storage space underneath, will keep the top clear of clutter. You could also add a tray, basket or small box to organize items like remotes, coasters or magazines.

Don’t forget about vertical space. Add floating shelves if you’re low on floor space, or create a gallery wall with all your photos.

3. Amp up your cozy factor

Nothing says cozy like the warm glow of candlelight, so break out the candles this winter. Scented candles can be particularly comforting. According to Live Science, smells are processed first by the amygdala, a place in the brain where emotions are formed, and memory is processed. That explains why certain aromas evoke powerful memories that create an emotional response. So take an olfactory trip to a favorite vacation spot, or seek the scent of a loved one you’re missing!

Stocking up on soft blankets and faux fur skins will add some cozy layers. You can also fill your cupboards with your favorite hot tea.

4. Bring the outdoors in

Though you might not want to spend much time outside when the temperature dips below zero, you can bring some of the outdoors in. Decorate your home with natural elements like acorns, twigs and moss. Create a mobile or a wall hanging with some twigs or a wreath with moss. You could also create a faux fireplace and add a stack of wood.

You can also bring in some greenery with houseplants. There are various plant hangers if you lack floor space for plants. According to NBC News, plants release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, which makes your home’s air fresher and removes toxins. That makes plants both beautiful and beneficial to your body.

5. Create a perfect book nook, movie screening sanctuary or art-making space

Now is the perfect time to lean into one of your favorite indoor pastimes. If you love to curl up with a book, set up the perfect reading spot: you just need a comfy chair, good light and a stack of books. Or you might prefer to unwind by watching movies. Set up a comfy spot in front of your flat screen with soft pillows and fuzzy blankets or invest in a projector and movie screen.

Making art can also be incredibly therapeutic. Create a small studio in a spare bedroom or carve out space for a small table or desk in another room. Gather all your art-making supplies, and add an old rug to catch spills. Now you’ve got the start of your own artist’s studio!

Minnesota winters are long. But creating a space that allows you to practice self-care will help keep your spirits up this winter.