MY HOME, MY DETOX HAVEN

Our home should be our haven. It should be a place where we can get away from it all, relax, and look after ourselves. It should be a healthy place, a secure place, a toxic-free zone.

It should be… but it isn’t. Instead, without us even knowing it, we’ve turned our homes into toxic warehouses, chock full of the type of processed goods and synthetic chemicals we really should avoid.

And, for too many of us, our home has also become somewhere we simply exist, rather than a place of abundance and blessing. Rituals, accompanied by a sense of thankfulness and belonging, can help to change all that.

Here are 10 simple steps all of us can take to detoxify our homes.

  1. Switch to glass containers for your food and drink. Dump as many plastic containers as you can.1
  2. Use cast iron or stainless steel pans for your cooking and throw away your non-stick pans, which are coated in fluoropolymers manufactured from PFOA, a chemical associated with tumors and developmental problems in animals and – potentially – in humans.2
  3. Replace artificial air fresheners and scented candles with essential oils and fresh flowers. Air fresheners (and other chemical sprays) contain a host of chemicals like formaldehyde and p-dichlorobenzene, which are linked with cancer, lung damage, and asthma.3
  4. Toss out any chemical cleaning and laundry products and replace them with natural alternatives like baking soda, lemon, vinegar and/or products made with organic or wholly natural ingredients.
  5. Use toxin-reducing houseplants to absorb potentially harmful gases and help clean the air inside your home.
  6. Ensure your home is always well ventilated. This will help to dissipate the build–up of harmful toxins like VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that are often found in objects like new carpets and furnishings, beddings, interior paints, new plastics and electronics, varnishes, shampoos, insect repellants, etc. 4
  7. Reduce exposure to pesticides by:
    a) establishing a no-shoes policy in your home (pesticides are often picked up outside when we walk);
    b) buying fresh, organic produce when you can, and:
    c) avoiding the use of chemical-based pest-control products in your home.
  8. Install an effective water filtration system in your home, such as a reverse osmosis filter or an under counter multi-stage filter. Water we get straight from the tap can contain VOCs like pesticides, heavy metals, and endocrine disruptors (EDCs).
  9. Reduce exposure to PBDEs (chemical compounds used as a flame retardant and associated with brain and reproductive damage) by choosing wool or cotton fill over polyester and foam products when it comes to purchasing mattresses or furnishings.5
  10. Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides if you like to get out in the garden, as these can be unknowingly ingested (albeit in small amounts) and easily tracked indoors. Use natural lawn care methods and products instead.

 

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Home-made rituals.

When it comes to our homes, there are two types of ritual: rituals for the home and rituals of the home.

Rituals for the home tend to have a spiritual core, centered around actions we can take to cleanse our home or set it up in such a way that we invite positive energy into our living spaces. Examples of this type of energy, gained through ritual, include the sacred Native American practice of smudging, crystal energy healing, creating wellbeing with essential oils, and the ancient art of feng shui.6

Rituals of the home, on the other hand, tend to be grounded in physical action, coupled with mindfulness. Invariably, they are things we do regularly, maybe even every day. The only thing is, we too often cast them in a negative light. We call them chores.

With only a small adjustment in the way we think, we can transform chore into ritual, with enormous benefit to our lives and the way we experience our homes.

Here’s some examples of how we can do this and why it works:

DECLUTTERING IS RESTORATIVE

There’s nothing like a good spring clean, but it’s maybe a practice we should consider instituting all year round. That’s because recent research demonstrates that decluttering not only makes our homes safer, more restful places to live, it’s also good for us, helping  us reduce stress, boost productivity, sleep and eat better, whilst also providing a workout at the same time!7

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WOOHOO! IT’S TIME TO WASH THE DISHES

The jury is in. Washing dishes is good for us! At least, it is if we do it mindfully. In a 2014 study,8 researchers at Florida State University separated 51 students into 2 groups and asked them to wash dishes. Fascinatingly,the group asked to read a mindfulness passage prior to the task – which required them to relax and simply be with the various sensations that accompany washing dishes – felt 25% more inspired and 27% less nervous than the group who approached the task as a chore.

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GO ON, GET GARDENING

The physical benefits of gardening are obvious, but it’s also great for our mind and emotions. Recent studies demonstrate that gardeners are generally more satisfied with their lives,9 with greater self-esteem and fewer feelings of depression and fatigue.10
It’s an enormously rewarding activity, with obvious benefits for our wellbeing.

IN THE END, OUR HOMES ARE WHAT WE MAKE OF THEM.

With some small, mindful adjustments to the way we approach activities that are part and parcel of home life (yes, even washing the dishes or hanging out the washing!), we can turn our homes into truly restorative, healthy places. Our havens, if you will.

1Matthew Hoffman; ‘Pots, Pans, and Plastics: A Shopper’s Guide to Food Safety’; Web MD; http://www.webmd.com/foodrecipes/features/cookware-plastics-shoppers-guide-to-food-safety#1
2‘How Chemical Defense Attorney Blew the Lid Off PFOA and Teflon Dangers’; Mercloa.com; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/01/27/pfoa-teflon-cookware-dangers.aspx
3Sarah C. Corriher; ‘How Air Fresheners are Killing You; The Health Wyze Report; http://healthwyze.org/reports/184-how-airfresheners-are-killing-you
4‘Volatile Organic Compounds: The Health Dangers of VOCs, Where They Are Hiding & How to Avoid Them; SixWise.com; http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/05/12/14/volatile-organic-compounds-the-health-dangers-of-vocs-wherethey-are-hiding–amp-how-to-avoid-the.htm
5‘The Danger of PBDEs’; Environmental News Network;
6‘Strange Home Rituals That Can Increase Your Happiness; Michelle Pellizon; Care2 Healthy Living; https://www.care2.com/
greenliving/strange-home-rituals-that-can-actually-increase-your-happiness.html
7How decluttering can improve physical and mental health; Swedish; https://www.swedish.org/blog/2017/05/how-declutteringcan-improve-physical-and-mental-health
8Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness; Adam W Handley, Alia R Warner, Vincent M Dehili, Angela I Canto, Eric L Garland; Springer.com;
9The Influence of Gardening Activities on Consumer Perceptions of Life Satisfaction; T M Waliczek, J M Zajicek, R D Lineberger; https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/syllabi/435/Articles/Waliczek.pdf
10Gardening can offer relief from anxiety symptoms; Carol S Lee, MA; Anxiety.org; https://www.anxiety.org/gardening-helpsreduce-symptoms-of-anxiety-and-depression