Make your bed!!
Now I know you’re not all teenagers reading this – and I have no wish to trigger memories of irritating parental demands, but I want you to make your bed.
And I have a really good reason for this. I believe you will feel better when your bed’s made.
It’s been something of a theme this month with client work, a sneaking sense of disorder, an un-ease. Maybe it has to do with settling back into an Autumn routine. A lot of us feel we are back to work, back to school, back to the damn Winter.
We are a little fed up and finding it hard to say goodbye to the long light-filled slightly more relaxed Summer (note I didn’t say sunny, I know my audience!!). We are resisting it, rebelling even, and that usually brings disorder.
I spoke with someone last week who’s struggle is how to be nicer to herself. She was quite mean to herself, and she is not a mean person. Quite the opposite actually, and she is the epitome of kindness. But she is kinder to others than to herself, as many of us are.
So our question for her was – is there one small thing I can do to be nicer to me? What might feel nice, for example, to come home to after a long day at work? And boom! The answer came – a nicely made bed. An inviting peaceful restful place that needed no work, that was ready to accept her tired body and carry her off to sleep.
This is not just an isolated notion, there is research to back this up. I won’t bore you with academia but (very) briefly: In one study called “No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol” published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin researchers concluded that “.. perceiving one’s home as being cluttered or unfinished could directly trigger stress reactions and depressed mood, whereas viewing the home as more restorative might alleviate these negative states”. In other words, tidy home, tidy mind.
A guy called Charles Duhigg’s (here’s a clip of him speaking about his work) author of “The Power of Habit” argues that making your bed daily is correlated with higher productivity and higher levels of happiness. Forming the simple habit of putting your clothes away every night (on the floor doesn’t count!!) and making your bed every morning can shape us into a more productive person! One can argue that this is a correlation, not necessarily a causation. If you spotted that you are indeed correct – but my suggestion is that you try it, see how it feels.
He’s not the only person to put this argument/observation forward. Here’s another piece I found on Lifehacker. Habits that involve even small amounts organization help us to feel achievement, control, clear, ready. Organizing your environment around you right from start of your day will facilitate a feeling of preparedness and control. And having a restful uncluttered space to return to just, feels good – it’s a reward. Especially after an awful day. You won’t be moaning to yourself about the crumpled sheets and the mess on the floor, which for some of us moves quickly to shame, irritation and self criticism. You get to avoid all that by taking a few minutes, maybe just one minute to set this treat up for yourself.
And you can have yourself to thank – a double win! So here’s my latest mental health tip: make your bed. And later, you can observe with relief, the haven you have created for yourself. Then smile smugly, snuggle in and sleep well.