There are definitely weekends when lazing around the house and doing nothing at all are good for the soul. However, too much lying around can sometimes have the opposite effect intended; it may leave you feeling tense, agitated, and unfulfilled. If you’re itching for something to do — but wish to avoid stress and frustration — consider one of the following weekend projects to boost your mood.
Believe it or not, living in a cluttered home actually creates constant low-grade stress. Giant messes, piles of clutter, and a neverending list of chores counters the natural decline in cortisol levels that occurs as your day winds down. This causes a subtle but steady drain on your energy, which consequently takes a toll on your mood, sleep, and overall health.
A 2009 study found that women who felt their homes were “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reported feeling more depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.”
Eliminating messes and sprucing up your space will leave you feeling happier, less frustrated, and more relaxed. What’s more, being organized helps give us a sense of control — something we all need in order to stay motivated in our daily lives.
Depending on your energy level (and the amount of time you have to dedicate to the project), find a drawer, closet, or room that needs to be de-cluttered, cleaned, and organized. Enlist some help from a friend or family member and work together to put the space to rights. You’ll feel amazing when you see the end product!
Do Something With Those Old Photos
If you have a box of old photos gathering dust in a closet somewhere, it’s time to do something about it. Start by scanning the photos and digitizing them. This will safeguard them in case of disaster (flood, fire, etc.) and also makes them super easy to share with friends and family.
When you’re done digitizing, curate your photos and place them into albums. You can create albums that feature photos of vacations, your children, your pets, or whatever strikes your fancy. Any photos you don’t wish to put into an album should be stored off the ground in a cool, dry place.
Creating tangible collections of photos offers up a lot of the same benefits as organizing, as well as a powerful dose of nostalgia. Recent research has shown that nostalgia is good for us in a number of ways. Reminiscing about the past helps us feel better about the present, more hopeful about our future, and emotionally closer to those around us. What’s not to love?
Weed The Garden
Weeding may seem like a nasty chore, but it actually has a ton of advantages. The first, of course, is that it’s good for your garden. Weeds compete with your plants for nutrients in the soil, as well as sunlight and water. Getting rid of them gives your flowers and crops the leg up they need to thrive.
Weeding also serves to be meditative, yet productive. Feeling the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the soil under your fingers is incredibly soothing. The mindless, repetitive motion of weeding helps you get into a state of flow, which is both calming and invigorating. Finally, seeing your finished and tidy flowerbed will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride that just can’t be beat!
Create An Outdoor Oasis
Speaking of enjoying the outdoors, creating a dedicated space to bask in the glory of nature is a great way to spend a weekend. You can go big and build a deck, or you can do something small like setting up a sitting area — the choice is entirely yours. Let your imagination (and finances) be your guide! Hammocks, rocking chairs, swings, umbrellas, awnings, outdoor fabrics, pillows, fairy lights, lanterns, wind chimes, flowers and plants — any and all will give life to your little oasis.
Like weeding, constructing your open-air hideaway lets you enjoy physical work, something that releases tons of “feel good” chemicals and reduces stress. Being green will make you feel good too! As you work to create your perfect outdoor space, be sure to be mindful of the environment. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean walkways, skip pressure treated wood for decks and fencing, and water your plants and lawn in the early morning or late evening.
A job well done is often worth the hard work it entails. This weekend, put your mind and efforts toward something that will make you smile every time you see it, whether it be an organized closet, a carefully curated photo album, a well kept garden, or the perfect outdoor haven.
Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter@LizVGreene.