The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every facet of our lives. Many of us are working our daily jobs from home, while our kids are attending virtual classes. The timeframe for the pandemic is uncertain, however, we know one thing – Americans are staying home more than ever before.
Unsurprisingly, this lifestyle change has its consequences. People are experiencing cabin fever from being stuck in their homes for months on end. This is impacting many individuals’ mental and physical health, along with personal well-being.
Being at home also means using more energy than usual. Americans are seeing their monthly utility bills suddenly rise. It’s forcing homeowners to think about making their home more energy-efficient and comfortable, especially as the winter months loom closer. In addition, people are more health-conscious than ever and have increased awareness and concern about indoor air quality.
The good news is, even with so many issues outside our control, there are solutions that can help. In this article we briefly go over the effects of the pandemic on people’s mental and physical health along with general behaviors, then we identify 19 different solutions that homeowners can explore to improve their quality of life, either through easy daily routine habits or through home improvement projects.
COVID-19’s effect on overall wellness
It’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the physical and mental health of people around the world over the past few months.
The CDC reports that nearly 40% of a 5,000 people survey have experienced adverse mental health conditions as a result of the pandemic. Social isolation from increased time spent at home is one of the leading causes for this, as being separated from friends and family due to lockdown measures are taking its toll on individuals.
Whether it’s the constant fear of contracting the virus or trying to keep up with everyday life in spite of it, there’s no shame in admitting that you’ve experienced a mixed range of emotions due to self-isolation. If you’ve experienced these or other related issues, we recommend these resources to help cope with the stress.
Home improvement and lifestyle changes during the pandemic
To counter the negative effects of social isolation and quarantine, residents have taken initiatives to improve both their daily lifestyles and home comfort. Having to wake up and do all of your daily tasks in the same building or room has motivated many to make small lifestyle changes to their everyday schedule. There’s also been a greater emphasis on making homes more healthy, comfortable, and energy-efficient during the pandemic.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that 62% of adults have adopted some sort of healthy lifestyle during the pandemic, as people are learning to cope with increasing social isolation through beneficial habits.
Meanwhile, BusinessWire reports that 57% of homeowners began working on home improvement projects during the first few months of lockdown, noting how they felt more aware of what their homes needed once they were forced to work from home.
It’s encouraging to see individuals trying to lead happier lives through positive routines and home improvement work. In light of this trend, we want to highlight 19 different ways you can build happier and healthier homes through small lifestyle changes, or larger home improvement projects.
19 ways to build a happier and healthier home
We recognize that there’s no “one size fits all” solution to better well-being, which is why we’re categorizing our solutions based on the scope of their actions. Whatever your needs might be, we encourage our readers to try these solutions out for themselves.
1. Make your bed
As rudimentary as this simple task may be, making your bed actually a great way to start off your day. It’s extremely simple and can take less than 30 seconds, but once it’s complete, you’ve already checked off a task for the day. Sometimes all you need is a small feeling of accomplishment to boost your energy to tackle the rest of the morning. Plus, it’ll help you build a healthy daily routine.
2. Create a schedule
Speaking of routine, being stuck at home exacerbates that awful feeling of mindlessly doing chores every day. For those of us more used to a structured work schedule, that feeling is extremely disorienting. As such, creating a daily schedule can help you be productive and get you through each day. Purchase a planner or put up a whiteboard to keep track of what you need to get done each day to give yourself a sense of consistency.
3. Start a journal
Feeling like you’re stuck with your own thoughts in quarantine? A journal might be a good way to air out any grievances without having to actually share any private information. We know that social isolation can take its toll on your psyche. A journal is a great non-judgmental place to vent, or to simply record your everyday life events.
4. Reach out to family and friends
Sometimes a journal just won’t do, and you’re craving some social interaction. We highly recommend virtual socialization through phone calls, Skype, FaceTime, or even Discord. There’s plenty of online activities to engage with your friends and family, such as multiplayer games, weekly trivia, and even watch parties for movies and sports games. Just remember that your loved ones are probably missing you as much as you miss them.
5. Limit your social media use
We understand that social media is another great way to connect with your friends and family online. However, it can also increase your sense of isolation by making you feel disconnected from other people’s lives. We don’t want to encourage you to delete your social profiles, but maybe surfing Facebook 3 hours each day isn’t the healthiest use of your time.
6. Keep your kitchen sink empty
Doing your dishes, as annoying as it can sometimes, is another great way to cap off your day when all is said and done. Letting plates and silverware pile up is a surefire way to stink up your home, so take 10 to 15 minutes out of each day to make sure everything is clean and ready to use the next day. At worst, it’s another small task that you can check off of your daily schedule.
Simple DIY projects
7. Clean out some of your house space
Maybe you’ve been quarantining for a few months, and that clutter of boxes that you put off to the side of the living room is becoming a serious eyesore. You’d be surprised how much space you can create in your home if you just rearranged a few things. You can even give some stuff away or recycle it. These DIY home refurnishing projects will give you much more breathing room in your home, making you feel a lot less boxed in.
8. Make a zen space
Say you finally put some unneeded boxes or furniture away and you’ve got an entire unused room. Now what? You can use this room as a place to unwind and find inner peace. Put up your favorite couch, a set of comfortable pillows, or some potted plants and succulents. We don’t mean “zen” in the strictest sense of the word, but creating a quiet place to center yourself might be just what you need to get rid of some stressors throughout the day.
9. Craft a workout space
Exercise is sometimes the best stress reliever, but going to a gym during a pandemic isn’t always possible. Instead, you can turn parts of your home into your own mini gym with a little creativity. You don’t need expensive equipment to burn off some calories, just a little bit of space to give you a wide range of motion.
10. Fill your home with fragrance
Being stuck in one place all day can get a little suffocating. Essential oils, scent machines, and scented candles are great ways to liven up your home with lovely scents. With the winter months approaching, you won’t be able to open your windows to enjoy the outdoor breeze, so get creative with giving your home a soothing fragrance.
11. Brighten up your rooms
Tired of looking at the same drab walls that came with your home? It’s never too late to add a fresh coat of paint. You can also play around with furniture and other decorations that add a little more color to your room. Don’t settle for grayish, brownish rooms if you don’t have to.
Bonus: Consider adding insulative coatings to keep living spaces cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
12. Make some fabric projects
Maybe your pillows, blankets, and cushions are getting faded or losing their color after years of neglect. Instead of buying new fabric, you can instead make your own pillow covers or blankets. Choosing your own fabric for pillow covers, lampshades, curtains, and drapes will give you far more freedom in choosing the look of your home than if you were to spend hours and hundreds of dollars scrounging Bed Bath & Beyond.
13. Learn how to bake or cook
We’ve all seen a thousand Instagram posts by now of people showing off their sourdough bread. As trite as this seems, baking and cooking is an extremely rewarding activity that not only gives you something to do with your time but rewards you with something delicious at the end (provided you don’t burn anything). Plus, there are more resources than ever to learn these skills through YouTube and other cooking sites.
Home improvement projects
14. Light up your life
One of the simplest ways to improve your home comfort while saving big on energy bills is through energy-efficient light sources. LED lights last up to 100,000 hours while using very little electricity, contributing far less to your monthly electricity bill than incandescent lights. You can also install solar-powered lights on your roof to greatly reduce your energy bill costs if you live in a sunny area. Relying on these energy-efficient light alternatives might be a solution against overusing electricity during typical work or school hours.
15. Conduct an indoor air quality test
There’s been a growing concern in recent years about household products emitting toxic chemicals and other irritants. Now that you’re staying at home far more frequently, it might be time to make sure your home is safe from these harmful substances. You can certainly research the products you’re using in your home, but the information might be too complicated for a layman. We recommend contacting a third-party to conduct a thorough indoor air quality test to see if there are any problems with your home’s air. This will either give you peace of mind about your indoor air quality, or at least a baseline from which to start.
Bonus: Read our guide to discover the top sources of indoor air pollution.
16. Get a comprehensive attic inspection
Another area of concern is your attic. The highest point in your house often allows warm air created by your heaters to escape during the winter and enter during the summer. Making sure that your attic is properly sealed, insulated, and free of mold or other contaminants is a necessary step toward improving your home’s energy efficiency and generally making it more comfortable to live in. As the colder months draw near, getting an attic inspection is a good way to be ahead of any underlying insulation or air sealing (projects) issues.
17. Invest in probiotic air and surface purifiers
If you do find unwanted pollutants in the air, or if you want to eliminate the possibility of toxic substances lurking around in your home, you can install a probiotic air and surface purifier. These products release organic probiotics that identify and consume organic irritants in enclosed working or living spaces. They’re installed in or near air ducts to mist active probiotics throughout your home. This gives you a safe and efficient way to help protect everyone in your home from irritants, bacteria, and other contaminants while controlling odors.
18. Install multi-layer attic insulation
Multi-layer insulation has emerged as one of the most effective ways to help keep warm air inside the home. It works by reflecting heat rays trying to escape up into the attic and sends them back into the home making your house more comfortable and energy-efficient. It also helps keep your home cooler in the summer by reflecting the sun’s radiant heat keeping it from seeping into your home and therefore sending it back outside. Multi-layer insulation can be easily installed and is an affordable way to control your home’s temperatures while lowering energy bills and creating a more comfortable space for you and your family.
19. Invest in window installments
If you’re looking to better insulate your home while also boosting its aesthetic appeal, certain window installations can help keep unwanted air out of your home to improve insulation while illuminating your house using natural light. There’s a wide variety of window installations to choose from. Cellular shades incorporate cell pockets to trap air around your windows, making them warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Solar shades illuminate your home while using as few lightbulbs as possible. Light-colored shades can help dissipate light around your room by making it more opaque.
Bringing it all together
As we continue to deal with the current pandemic and all of its ripple effects, we recommend taking the time to invest in both your well-being as well as the comfort level of your home.
Being able to live and work in a comfortable home is a great way to alleviate the stress from everything else going on in the world. Giving yourself a handful of achievable tasks every day, picking up rewarding hobbies, and making your home a better place to live are all great ways to build a happier and healthier home as we face today’s uncertainty and push forward towards a better future for you and your family.