Experiencing the wail of sirens at all hours of the night, the smells of trash along sidewalks, and the visions of daily grime and disrepair in a tight urban environment can fray the edges of your soul. Many urbanites have reported feeling anxiety, loneliness, and fear since the onset in early 2020 of COVID-19’s quarantine and shelter-in-place requirements. Instead of allowing these experiences to wear you down, here are six areas you can focus on to incorporate positive influences into your urban space.
Connect to Nature
Typically, time spent walking in a shady forest or strolling along a sandy shore can be a tonic for soothing those frayed edges; David Strayer of the University of Utah advocates a connection to nature as the antidote to the daily stressors of a modern mulitasker’s life. Even if you can’t make this connection in a forest or on a beach right now due to COVID-19, you can connect with nature in your own space by incorporating oxygen-producing, carbon-sucking plants of all kinds. From the #houseplantsofinstagram trending hashtag to the ancient art of bonsai as adapted for indoors by Bonsaify, any type of plant will enhance your indoor setting and calm your nerves. Inoculate yourself with a feeling of calm and well-being by surrounding yourself with plants that bring you joy. Learn a few simple steps to keep them healthy and thriving, and they will return the favor every time you look at them or take a deep, cleansing breath!
Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of “Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness” suggests adding pops of color to the inside wall of your closet, through a picture frame, or your window trim. She explains, “ A tiny pop of color in an unexpected place...catches our attention, focuses it, and casts a halo effect on its surroundings, making a run-of-the-mill object or place feel more considered and special.” Make colorful pairings like a thoughtfully framed piece of artwork with a found object of the same color. Ditch your bland old coffee mugs and pick up some Fiesta ware, or place your new collection of houseplants in bold, bright pots. You can also add pops of color to your loungewear or statement jewelry.
Sink into Comfort
Does anything sound quite as nice for your body or mind, as curling up into a comfy couch or cozy chair after a long day of city hustle and bustle? Custom furniture company Medley offers these rules to find the couch that will be most comfortable for you: make sure the seat depth and height are appropriate; select a cushion filling that best matches the function; and select a back pitch angle that offers sufficient support. The Spruce did the research for you, taking into account style, size, and price in selecting the 6 Best Sofas for Small Spaces. Place a side table next to your favorite seat, to make it easy to set a glass of wine or sparkling water and a book beside you as you snuggle in for the night.
Redbook reinforces that aromas that evoke happy memories can lead you to feel happy right now. Tapping into a scent that reminds you of your favorite vacation (coconut or pine) can serve as a shortcut to producing similar emotions that you felt on vacation, such as calm, relaxed, or peaceful. Order a few beautiful hand blown glass candle holders from glassybaby and sustainable scented tea light candles from Goodlight. You can also explore aromatherapy, a holistic healing treatment that uses aromatic essential oils to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. Sprinkle lavender-scented epsom salts into a steamy warm bath, or rub lotion from the Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy collection into your skin whenever you need a specific boost (Eucalyptus Spearmint for stress relief, Orange Ginger for energy).
Brightness through Light
The Art of Simple suggests looking for an apartment with access to natural light. If that’s not an option for you, Freshhome recommends brightening up your urban space by swapping out basic light fixtures with two more exciting, different options in each room. Pair a stylish overhead light fixture in your main living space with a floor lamp; add battery-powered, LED lighting under your kitchen and bathroom cabinets; set a table lamp beside your bed and a wall sconce above it. You can also use color-changing light bulbs; CNET offers advice on pairing apps with bulbs to set a visual alarm to help you wake up in the morning, or to have your favorite sleep-inducing color help you catch more zzz’s at night.
Sound and Silence
Even the most extroverted urbanites will have moments of wishing they could mask the shrill honking of car horns, the wailing sirens from emergency vehicles, or the pulsing beats from the upstairs neighbor’s party. Introverts may craze the elusive beauty of absolute silence. 6sqft offers a few easy solutions to soundproof your apartment, such as covering your walls with soft, sound-absorbing materials like cotton, foam, and felt; or adding draft guards or door seals (they provide an added bonus of adding insulation to your space, keeping cold or hot air out). Installing a reliable, compact sound system such as Sonos can also offer respite, providing access to white noise or favorite music. And while there are a number of high-tech options available, a pair of good old-fashioned foam ear plugs can ease a harried, exhausted urbanite into a restful night’s sleep.