9 Easy Ways To Make Your Home Healthier and Happier

Vicki Moore Pacifica Realtor

According to psychologists nature is good for us. In fact, there’s an entire branch of their profession devoted to studying how nature impacts our happiness and well-being, known as environmental psychology. Although I don’t think we need a psychologist to tell us that.

When we incorporate natural elements in our home’s décor, we are practicing what is known as “biophilic design.” According to Timothy Beatley, author and professor at the University of Virginia: Adherents subscribe to the belief that “humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life.”

It’s a proven scientific fact that when we’re in nature, our stress levels are reduced, our moods are enhanced and even our academic performance improves.

We’ve also learned that bringing outdoor elements into the home offers the same benefits. Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate nature into your home’s décor to make your home happier and healthier.

1. Spend More Time at the Beach

Living in an aquatic locale gives you a “six-point increase on the 100-point happiness scale compared to urban settings’ according to Zachary Slobig, in Psychology Today – higher points than woods, farms or mountains.

Scientists are gathering evidence that living near the water enhances our minds by promoting calmness, creativity, focus, overall happiness, and sleep quality. Maybe that’s why so many artists are drawn to living in Pacifica.

A study of cancer patients showed that 15 minutes of a nature video that included ocean waves created a 20 – 30% drop in the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. You’ve heard of cancer patients recovering or reducing their cancer by watching comedies; well, living in a peaceful, less stress inducing environment just might be another way to reduce pain and sickness.

2. You’ll Get More Work Done and be Happier in Natural Light

Most of us are familiar with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that typically occurs when days get shorter – or in repeated days of fog. One of the more holistic treatments for SAD is light therapy.

SAD sufferers are instructed to spend 30 minutes each morning next to a light box that emits 10,000 lux – light that’s “about 100 times brighter than usual indoor lighting,” according to Michael Craig Miller, M.D., with Harvard University.

Studies of workplace lighting have shown that productivity is enhanced when indoor lighting mimics daylight. They’ve even learned that this type of lighting in stores produces higher sales; and that when used in classrooms, students perform better.

Believe it or not, one study showed a decrease in dental decay in students who attend classes in rooms with lights that mimic daylight.

It all has to do with our levels of serotonin and melatonin and how they affect our moods, weight loss, how we sleep and even health conditions.

If you don’t have giant windows that let lots of sunlight into the home, fake it. Replace lightbulbs with daylight LED bulbs or shop for lighting listed as “full spectrum.

3. Bring the Outdoors Indoors with Plants from the Living Room Plant Co.

The air inside our homes is likely to be more polluted than outdoor air, “even the largest and most industrialized cities,”

according to the EPA. Carpeting and furniture off-gas toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde. Then there are the various chemicals we use in our daily lives, such as cleaning products and pesticides, which also emit toxins into the air. Healthy cleaning products used to be unheard of. We didn’t realize the companies and products we trusted were untrustworthy with our health.

It may seem silly to mention opening the windows frequently to let the toxins out and fresh air in but you’d be surprised that some people don’t think of it. We leave the windows and doors open all day now that we’re working from home. It freshens the inside air and provides us a nice clean, refreshing breeze throughout the day.

According to NASA studies of the closed environments in our space stations, plants clean the air of these toxins. In fact, flowering plants go after benzene, while popular houseplants such as pothos and philodendron will absorb formaldehyde.

Make your home healthier by incorporating live plants wherever possible. The experts at NASA recommend that you place 15 plants per 1,800 square feet of living space. And they recommend plants in 6- to 8-inch containers. NASA has compiled a list of suggested houseplants and you can find them online, here.

Plants provide other benefits aside from physical health, according to Beatley.

Scientific research, he claims, proves that items in nature make our moods more positive, improve our cognitive functioning, increase academic performance and lower our stress levels.

In Beatley’s book, “Biophilic Cities -Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning,” he mentions a study of post-operative hospital patients. Those patients who could view a tree outside their windows remained in the hospital for a shorter period of time than those patients without a tree-view.

So, while bringing various elements of nature indoors will amp up your family’s health and happiness, merely placing these elements within view from the interior of the house has benefits as well.

The EPA estimates that we spend 90 percent of our average day indoors, in polluted air, whether it’s at work or at home. Protect your health and happiness by bringing the outdoors indoors.

Talk to the experts at The Living Room Plant Company located at 1614 Palmetto Ave. to find out how you can integrate plants into your living space. You can reach them at +1 650-898-8274 or
[email protected]

4. Living with Crystals for Health and Well-Being

Heather Askinosie of Energy Muse.com has a comprehensive room-by-room guide to using crystals in your home to create a healthier, more balanced/grounded living space.

Since we’re all working from home, the office is a good place to start promoting a healthy lifestyle. Heather suggests Shungite and Pyrite. Shungite stones provide natural antioxidants and absorb and neutralize the electromagnetic radiation (EMF) put out by electronic devices. It can also assist in keeping you grounded and help you to harness courage and resourcefulness.

Pyrite energy can promote a wealth of ideas, opportunities and confidence in your business endeavors. Heather says, “Set the Pyrite on top of your business card to manifest abundance. The courage, motivation and overall sense of abundance you feel when connected with Pyrite’s energy will drive you to take those necessary risks or capitalize on opportunities for growth.

5. Keep Water from Infiltrating the Wrong Places

Water can be a great thing in all the right places – but in the wrong areas, it can be toxic. Think mold. Mostly when we think of water infiltration we think of rain water coming in through the roof or windows. But in Pacifica, especially Linda Mar and west Fairway, there’s a high water table in those neighborhoods and many people have to deal with water underneath their houses. The front of Linda Mar is actually below sea level making it highly susceptible to having water in the crawl space. If there’s a musty smell that could be the culprit.

Some houses need a sump pump or a less involved solution of laying visqueen plastic sheeting down to keep the moisture from seep up into the house. Extra venting of the crawl space will also help dry it out.

Take a look at your downspouts to see where the water exits. If it’s coming out at the foundation, you should resolve that quickly and easily with downspout extensions. If it’s too much water for the downspouts and extensions to manage talk to a contractor about having a french drain installed. The idea is to get as much water as possible away from the foundation before it soaks into the foundation walls and underneath the house.

One last room to think about water problems is the bathroom. If the room steams up during showers, you’ll need to open a window or install and use an electric fan. If you don’t, you soon find mold on the ceiling and walls.

Some of these tips might be a no-brainer to you but some new homeowners are running into all sorts of situations during their first year of homeownership.

6. Clean, Clean, Clean

A happy home is a clean one. I’ve learned to like cleaning after spending a lot of time studying Buddhism and realizing how meditative it can be. If you reduce the dust, dirt and clutter you’ll feel better. I always do. I actually have a whole Pinterest board devoted to cleaning your house. There are some good tips and products – natural and store bought – to make it quicker and easier.

7. Keep Everyone Safe

Keeping toxins like cleaning products, paint and solvent away from kids and pets is important and something that is easily overlooked when we’re busy. Be sure that bottles are labeled properly too!

Other safety tips include replacing smoke/carbon detectors with the 10-year battery models, have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and garage. And securing loose rugs to keep anyone from tripping.

8. Keep Your House Pest Free

When it comes to termites, there are two types of houses in Pacifica: houses that have termites and houses that are going to get them. Living on the coast, in this moist environment, it’s a perfect breeding ground for beetles and termites. It’s a good idea to have your house professionally inspected every couple of years. The inspector will also take a look at areas where you could be looking at future problems with dry rot and drainage.

When you see houses that look like a circus tent, you’ll know that the house had beetles and/or termites badly enough that they couldn’t do “spot” treatments. The only way to get rid of the infestation was to tent the whole house and use vikane gas to eliminate the little buggers. Having periodic inspections will help keep that problem from happening to your home. It’s expensive – starting at $3,000, depending on the size of the house – and a pain because you’ll have to move out for a couple of days and probably want to move most – if not all – of your stuff out so it doesn’t get gassed.

9. Energy Efficiency Can Make a Healthy Home

One of the ways to have a more energy efficient and healthier home is to replace heater and water filters periodically, especially if you or someone in the home has allergies. Reddi HVAC recommends changing your heater vents based on their size

1-2 inch filters every three months, 4 inch filters every six months and 5 inch filters every 12 months.

They also suggest the follows signs that your heater filter needs to be changed:

  • The filter is visibly dirty. Certainly if you can’t see the material of the filter itself, it should be replaced.
  • The heating/cooling system is running more frequently than normal.
  • You home is more dusty than normal.
  •  You notice strange smells, or a burning smell near you HVAC unit.

If you’re not sure if your heater filters need to be change or you just need a heater tune-up call Berg Heating at (650) 359-1229 or Brady Air at (650) 742-9640.