Everyone needs a special place where they can relax and renew

Most of us feel like there’s simply too much to do in a day, with very little time out for ourselves. If you’re like us, you’re bombarded by emails and mobile phone calls and, if you commute in peak hour or live with family, there’s always people in your personal space.

Of course it’s wonderful to have contact with others, especially with those we care about. But for our mental and physical health, we need a regular break from this constant buzz of activity. One of the best ways to get it is to have our own private sanctuary.
If you feel a little guilty about the idea of it – you always put other peoples’ needs ahead of your own – consider this. “No-one can love and care for others if they’re sick and tired,” says psychologist Dr Tim Sharp, of the Happiness Institute in Sydney. “We need the wisdom to care for ourselves. That means having time to pursue our individual interests. “This, in turn, can be made easier if we have a personal space where we can find peace and quiet.”

Research shows that having a place you can get away to, even if it’s only a special corner in a room of your house, can actually improve your mental and physical health. Here’s why: the work, relationship or financial pressures we all face every day create stress in our mind and body.

We go into a primitive, “fight or flight” mode, as we battle to get all our tasks done at work or home and to cope with everything that is thrown at us. This sets off a series of reactions that involve our sympathetic nervous system. These reactions include our heart and breathing speeding up, our digestion slowing down and our blood sugar increasing.

Obviously to maintain good health we need to switch off from this mode and into the opposite one – the rest and repose reactions governed by our parasympathetic nervous system. That means spending some quiet time somewhere we find relaxing, say health experts. The first step, of course, is to find a place, indoors, or outdoors, that you can make your own.

By the way, your personal sanctuary is just that: personal. If others want in, encourage them to create their own special place.

Make a Space Your Own

Once you’ve found a space for your sanctuary, why not add

  • A very comfortable chair with plenty of cushions
  • Copies of your favourite magazines
  • Fresh flowers, especially if they are scented
  • Aromatherapy candles
  • Cosy, handmade throw rugs
  • Photographs of loved ones
  • A framed quote or motto
  • CD player or speakers with some music from nature
  • A tea-set, or a lovely wine glass and your favourite wine