Lockdown. It’s a unique situation to be in that none of us expected — a far cry from the hustle and bustle that is our usual everyday life.
For many of us it is the first time that we have been really, truly “home” in a long time. The home is often more of a base where we keep our stuff, sleep, and stop briefly to fuel ourselves to continue with our busy schedules.
To be confined has been a revelation for some — about how they keep their space, what bothers them about it, whether they can see themselves reflected in it or not. How many people do you know who took the lockdown as an opportunity to declutter and organize? But that’s not the only way people have dealt with rediscovering their home, or releasing their pent up frustration into the spaces they’ve been stuck in.
Our environments can have an incredibly significant impact on our mental and emotional wellbeing. I wanted to know more about how people’s space has impacted them now that they have the time to really dwell in it, and how they have been putting their energy into their home during this time.
To explore this idea, and the motivations behind it, I talked to some of the Innate Motion Business Humanizers. Despite the idea of a home office being nothing new for them, the extra time spent inside sparked something that caused them to make some changes.
Home as an anchor
For many years Moniek’s reality was being constantly on-the-go, traveling to meet clients, manage projects, spending holidays away. When the world shut down she was suddenly faced with the fact that she felt like a visitor in her own home. She also became overwhelmed by all of the organization projects that had piled up over the years.
The lack of travel, social obligations and family visits gave her the time and the mental and emotional space to tackle the organization bit by bit, and in the process put a bit of herself back into her home. Her biggest project has been decluttering the family’s extensive book collection.
“It did help me with landing in the house. That was kind of confrontational actually; because of the life I live I am kind of disconnected from the place. It brought a sense of groundedness, but also a bit of panic. Where does it stop? What else do I have to do?”
Though she has more tasks on her list that she’d like to accomplish, she notes that she has gained a sense of calm and focus from the progress she has already made. It has helped her to take charge over her space, and to ground herself more in her environment.
Home as a place to enjoy, together and apart
Benoit – France
Benoit’s home in the South of France is usually enjoyed by one or two people at a time. So when his family of 7 agreed to quarantine there together, he quickly realized that he needed to make some changes to better accommodate so many people in the house.
He moved the TV from upstairs to the common area, and rearranged the furniture and added an additional table to make it a more comfortable communal space. In parallel he made a private workspace for himself so he could better concentrate during the workday. By rezoning he created the distance needed to coexist for such a long period of time. Even more important it provided the space to better enjoy moments of togetherness.
“The TV room downstairs has allowed us to watch a few movies together, though to be honest the biggest use is for the boys in the house to play on the PlayStation. Not bad, that gives the room a cosy feel.”
Home as a comforting cocoon
Katie had noticed before that her living room felt a bit cold. Between meeting friends after work and volunteering, most of her time spent not working was out of the house, so she didn’t prioritize warming it up.
Once COVID changed her evening activities she realized that she didn’t have a desire to be in that cold room — it felt uncomfortable and uninviting, and limited her ability to feel at ease in her space. She felt that she really needed that comfort and feeling of safety. Not only because she spent more time at home, but also because she felt more anxious about the world around her and needed a place where she could cocoon and retreat from that anxiety.
To solve it she brought in a beautiful Persian rug that belonged to her grandmother, and she rearranged the space to be more comfortable and inviting. It completely changed the environment and gave her a cosy place where she can spend her time peacefully, feeling secure and protected.
“It’s amazing how changing something so small in your space can make your home feel really different.”
Home as an outlet for creative me-time
For Muriel, lockdown has been spent in her home away from home. Her family’s temporary escape from the UK to their holiday house in the South of France unexpectedly turned into an indefinite stay.
Since she is usually only there for a few weeks at a time she never really takes the time to decorate, so she decided to use this opportunity to unleash her creativity to make the house a more beautiful place to spend time. But with the reality of being confined in the same space for weeks at a time with the whole family, her decorating endeavor also turned into a pleasant form of escapism.
“It’s my me-time, a way to have a little self time away from the family. It’s the only little bubble I’ve had during lockdown, so it has definitely been a bit of an escape.”
She has a stunning rose garden that she rarely gets to enjoy, so she decided to use that as inspiration and bring the beauty indoors. She took photographs of the flowers that she plans to frame so that she can beautify the house and appreciate the roses any time of year.
Home as a space that works for everyone
Cilla’s home office was situated to not only be her workspace, but to also facilitate a moment of connection with her daughter each day. She had a long desk with two chairs situated next to each other, and for about an hour each day she would get to enjoy working side-by-side with her daughter as she did her homework.
With the abrupt shift to homeschooling that hour suddenly turned into the full workday. Between her own calls with clients and colleagues and her daughter’s calls for school, the situation was no longer workable for either of them.
To adapt she created a new workspace for herself in another area of the house. What seemed like a very practical change was also a bit of an emotional push to give her daughter a new level of freedom.
“We had to do it, but to be honest I kind of already wanted my own little office corner, so it’s the right opportunity. It’s really more about my daughter though, giving her more independence.”
Home as a source of vitality and hope
When the COVID crisis began, like many of us, Rachel experienced a sense of helplessness over her ability to control the situation. Something in her compelled her to start buying plants, despite the fact that in the past she couldn’t even keep a cactus alive.
She explained, “Having some kind of living thing I could care for was very comforting. Something clicked inside me that said, there’s chaos out there that I can’t control, but plants, if you take care of them, they grow. You give to them and they give back.”
As a result she has developed a new skillset, and a deep respect for the plants she has brought into her home. She now knows precisely how much water and light (and love) each type of plant in her home needs. The ability to master something that was once seemingly impossible has given her a sense of satisfaction.
More importantly, the addition of vivacious green plants in her life has brought her joy, and a reminder that despite all of the chaos out there life does go on.
Home as what we need it to be
This unique moment in time has given us a jolting reminder of how profoundly our surroundings can impact our emotional state and wellbeing.
Yes, home is a functional habitation, but it’s also a social zone, an outlet for creativity, a space to feel safe and a place to be anchored. The beauty of it is in recognizing what we need it to be — identifying where our own tensions lie and adapting our space to resolve that need in our own way.
After long existing as the backdrop to our lives the home is on the forefront again, reminding us of its many facets and what it has the potential to be, in lockdown and beyond.