You don't have to be a wellness expert to know that your home can have a huge impact on your health. Your environment has an effect, just as what you eat does. But, the experts can definitely help point the rest of us in the right direction toward a home that supports wellness goals. So, if you're someone who wants to make your home feel - and be - a bit more healthy, check out these suggestions from three pros who reveal the things they always keep around their homes...and things they avoid.
The wellness experts:
"My home is clean, bright, and wide-open, making me feel energetically willing to receive and be creative."
Natalie Dettmer founded Hill Country Art Therapy and Counseling, and offers person-centered, attachment-based art therapy and counseling in the Texas Hill Country. She also uses the healing power of plants through her boutique nursery and botanical design studio Ceremony.
"My home directly affects my mental health. When my mind is uncluttered I feel that there is space to get inspired and to create. When my home is uncluttered my mind is uncluttered. When I can achieve this in my home, I find that I feel and perform my best!
Danielle Levy is a Registered Holistic Nutrition Practitioner and Nutrition Consultant, and she started her Montreal-based practice in 2013. She offers nutrition consultations and personalized plans, in-person and on Skype, and focuses on whole food, plant-based diets, specializing in digestive issues, food allergies, sports nutrition, and women's health. You can follow her on Instagram.
"The simple, minimalist style of my home inspires healthfulness, for me. I can feel overwhelmed in a cluttered space, when surrounded by too much 'stuff.' Keeping things open and clean makes me feel more calm and centered — which is a healthy state to be in!"
What do you try to always have in your home to keep it healthy? Is there anything you exclude from your home?
Lee Tilghman: I always have plants in my home. And I can't imagine having a TV in my home.
Natalie Dettmer: I always have plants and objects that inspire! They improve the quality of the air, and they remind me that there is more out there than perhaps the terrible day that I might have had. The care they require reminds me to slow down, to be mindful and keep things simple. I like to have things in my home that remind me of experiences that were meaningful.
I NEVER keep anything I don't love even if it was a gift. I have worked really hard to not keep objects out of guilt. I also keep a bowl of sage, palo santo or some other sacred plant to help me when all of my meditating and positive vibing is just not enough to keep out the weight of the world.
Danielle Levy: I always have plants at home! The vibrant green makes me feel calm, and I enjoy taking care of them. With simple white walls, and a wooden floor, my plants bring aliveness to the space! In terms of things I never have at home, that would be chemical-based cleaning products. I try to opt for non-toxic soaps, cleaners and detergents instead — to lower my exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, found in conventional products. To me, being health conscious about what we consume includes more than only food!
What do you recommend that people have in their home to make it healthier?
Lee Tilghman: Yoga blocks or yoga blanket to do stretches, essential oils, and windows.
Natalie Dettmer: A couple of years ago I knew I was ready for a shift in consciousness and for my life to slow down. So I started to set my life up for less instant gratification and more slow living. For me it included putting in a garden. I started composting. And I opted for pour-over coffee in the mornings. I moved the TV to a push cart so it lives in the closet (now we have to decide if we want to get it out to watch something.) I wanted there to be more thought in the choices I made in and around my home.
But I think that this is a really personal choice and will be different for everyone. We have to choose what feeling we want to experience on a day-to day-basis in our homes, what feeling we want our children to experience when they get home from a long day at school…and we need to create a space that evokes that. For me it is through plants, that remind me to slow down, to notice, to appreciate. Also through antiques — that remind me that I am connected to a rich heritage. And through meaningful art — that remind me that humans are soulful and that everyone has something important to say.
"The main element I recommend having at home for health is a large pitcher of water that you enjoy using. Keep it on your kitchen counter as a reminder to drink water throughout the day!"
Danielle Levy: I enjoy using my aromatherapy oil diffuser, releasing relaxing lavender oil, as a healthy home ritual. The small, faux wood designed diffuser also looks nice on my bookshelf; it's made by a local company called Le Comptoir Aroma.
The main element I recommend having at home for health is a large pitcher of water that you enjoy using. Keep it on your kitchen counter, as a reminder to drink water throughout the day! Staying hydrated is key for energy, mental focus, digestion, metabolism and overall health. I enjoy the beautifully designed filter pitcher from SOMA, made from BPA-free plastic and sustainable materials.
And while this is clearly a biased suggestion, I also recommend my "Whole Food Plant-based Guide," a poster that I created in collaboration with my friend, illustrator Laucolo aka Laurence Deschamps-Léger. This nutrition education tool was designed to inspire people to cook healthy whole food, plant-centered meals at home!
If someone wants to make their home healthier, where should they begin?
Lee Tilghman: Spend one weekend going through your closet, medicine cabinet, filing cabinet, and pantry. Get rid of anything you don't use or don't need anymore. Give away your old clothes to friends or donate them. De-cluttering allows space for freshness and allows newness to come in.
Natalie Dettmer: Purge. I would ruthlessly purge, and I often do. One time I cleared a room out entirely. I did leave the bed, but I stripped the linens. I put all of the room's contents into the living room. I started with the big things and I carefully and thoughtfully put the items that I wanted back. The rest…I donated or moved them to a room that needed them.
Danielle Levy: I suggest gradually getting rid of stuff that you don't use or need. Get a big "donation bag" going, for the items you wish to give away or sell. Creating space allows you to clean more easily, which contributes to an overall healthier home environment. Once you've cleared out the things you don't need anymore, it's easier to re-design or fix up your space so that it's more functional, and that feels healthy to you! Start small, and create short-term goals — so as not to feel overwhelmed or stressed the process. Even if it's one kitchen cupboard, or one dresser drawer a week — this can motivate you to continue making healthy change!
See their homes:
Lee Tilghman lives in a small studio in Los Angeles' Koreatown neighborhood.
Natalie Dettmer shares her Hill Country house with her husband Bobby, her son Arlo and Lucy the dog.
Danielle Levy lives in a 700 square foot Montreal apartment that gets lots of sunshine.