It may not be spring cleaning season yet, but you don’t need to do a huge cleanup to see major improvements. In fact, there are some small upgrades you can make to your home right now that can improve your health, boost your focus, reduce stress and even help you slim down.
Ready to get started? Keep reading for easy home upgrade ideas:
De-clutter your kitchen.
It’s not just what’s in your fridge (and on your fork) that affects your weight—it’s also the clutter in your kitchen and sink. In a study conducted by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, researchers found that when stressed women were asked to wait for someone in a messy kitchen, they ate twice as many cookies compared to women who waited in an organized kitchen. “Being in a chaotic environment and feeling out of control is bad for diets. It seems to lead people to think, ‘Everything else is out of control, so why shouldn’t I be?’” the study’s lead author Lenny Vartanian, PhD., said in a press release. Keep surfaces free of clutter and wash dishes as you use them instead of letting them pile up in the sink—it could help you cut down on stress-snacking.
Add plants to every room.
Plant life certainly livens up a room, but it’s not just your decor that gets an upgrade. Studies from the Agricultural University of Norway show that plants inside the home decrease dry skin, colds, sore throat and dry cough. They also clean the air of indoor pollutants, according to NASA, whose researchers recommend one plant per 100 square feet of space. Look for peace lily, golden pothos, English ivy, chrysanthemum, gerbera daisy, bamboo pal and spider plant, which are particularly effective. Just remember to do your research if you have pets—some plants and flowers are toxic to animals.
And don’t forget the home office.
Plants give your mental health a boost, too, so don’t forget your home office or desk when going green. Studies have shown that adding plants to an office setting can improve attention capacity and increase productivity by 15 percent.
Hang a bundle of eucalyptus in your shower.
Feeling stuffed up? Hang eucalyptus in your shower and turn up the heat. A steamy shower will help release the essential oils in eucalyptus, giving you quick relief from nasal congestion.
Treat yourself to fresh flowers.
We don’t blame you for waking up grumpy on the weekdays…but there’s an easy way to perk up before you’ve even had your coffee. A study from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found that study participants who looked at flowers first thing in the morning reported being happier and more energetic. “The morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon, with positive moods—happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example—manifesting much later in the day,” says lead researcher Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D. “Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into their morning routines, people perked up.” It might not help you look forward to your morning meeting, but it’s something.
Turn down the thermostat before bed.
In a 2014 study carried out by researchers affiliated with the National Institutes of Health, men who slept in a 66 degree Fahrenheit room for four weeks doubled their volumes of brown fat, a type of fat thought to be healthy. And the benefits don’t end when you wake up—more brown fat is associated with less risk of diabetes and other metabolic issues. Sleep in a colder room also burns more calories overnight.
Wrap up that unfinished home project.
It’s hard to unwind if you scan your living room and spot a pile of mail in one corner, your kids’ toys in another, and a half-finished home improvement project in yet another. In a 2012 study, women who described their homes using words like “disorganized,” “unfinished,” “repair,” “junk” and “chaos” had more chronic stress, greater increases in depressed mood throughout the day, more fatigue in the evening and a harder time transitioning from work to home compared to women who described their homes with restorative words like “relax,” “calm,” “peaceful,” “homey” and “solace.” Spend each morning tidying up clutter before heading to work, and make a quick evening project out of finally hanging up that photo gallery, hanging up the new curtains or fixing a broken doorknob.