Kharissa Parker is a news producer, writer, certified health coach, and columnist for Startland News. For more of her self-care tips on how to keep your cup full, visit kparker.co.
Editor’s note: This commentary on awareness of space — and how it reflects the vibe necessary to succeed at work — continues Parker’s series on the 7 Pillars of Self-Care.
As we enter into a new year, now is an ideal time to rejuvenate how you think about and care for your space. The sixth pillar of self-care, awareness of space, is essential for your well-being. Be it your home, car, or office, the spaces you occupy tell a bigger story — one that involves your inner world. Even your email inbox can reveal truths that lie beneath the surface when it comes to your current relationship with self-care.
How you maintain your space is a mirror reflection. In fact, a 2020 study published in BioMed Central found that mess and unkept spaces are one key indicator of depression. Another study conducted in 2016 published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research suggested that clutter is also a sign of depression.
Mess and clutter don’t always have to mean doom and gloom, though. That stack of papers you refuse to sort through could mean you’re easily overwhelmed. That clean load of laundry that’s been sitting there for a week might mean you have a tendency to procrastinate. Or maybe you find yourself starting one chore only to get distracted by something else that needs to get done in another room. This could signal that you’re good at starting projects, but have a hard time seeing them through.
The key is to notice the habit, discover what deeper issue the habit echoes, and tackle that problem accordingly. Working through the bigger problem in a manner that creates long-term effective change won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, tidying up your spaces can help. Yes, your space is a mirror that reflects your self-care but creating a clean environment can also be a therapeutic practice that impacts your self-care — and that includes at work.
Keep it clean and organized
I grew up with the belief that cleanliness is next to godliness. This isn’t about achieving some false sense of righteousness, but about forging an environment that emulates a god-like essence. Have you ever noticed how much peace, joy, and contentment you have after a good deep clean? That’s what we’re talking about here. It’s why you can walk into someone’s office and want to stay there until the end of the work day. The whole flow of the room is just radiates a soothing and inviting atmosphere.
Organization is just as important as cleanliness. It’s counterproductive to have a clean office that’s cluttered with files and thingamajigs. This year, we’re no longer subscribing to the “organized mess” theory. As my mom would always say, “There’s a place for everything and everything has its place.” This goes for your digital space, as well. Everything from the shortcuts scattered across your desktop to the thousands of unread emails can have an impact on your thought process, creativity, productivity, and ability to think clearly. Organize your home screen and remove shortcuts you rarely use. Create folders for your emails and unsubscribe from junk you’re only going to delete anyway.
Reclaim your space
Reclaiming your space is especially important if you work from home at all. Nearly three years after the pandemic first hit, I’m sure you’re well aware of how easy it is for the bedroom or kitchen table to transform into a makeshift office space. Roommates and apartments or smaller homes don’t always make it easy to create one dedicated space for work. If you’re a creative, one dedicated space may not be ideal even if you do have the space.
Whatever the case may be, either pick a room that’s for work purposes only and shut the door when you’re done for the day or create a work station that you can put away after hours. Getting in the habit of implementing this practice will help ensure working from home doesn’t feel like living at work. As a result, your brain will be able to switch work mode off when it’s time. Out of sight. Out of mind.
Take pride in what’s yours
Ten years ago, I lived in a cute, little three-bedroom apartment and had no room for an office. I had a business coach at the time who told me to treat whatever space I had as if it were the most luxurious space in the world. She taught me that taking pride in what I had was an act of gratitude and if I wanted to be trusted to be blessed with something more or something better, then I needed to do right by what was already mine.
For some reason, this really hit home for me. I set up two TV trays side-by-side in my bedroom and covered them with a freshly washed and ironed white sheet. This was my desk. Aside from my laptop, the desk was adorned with a cute notebook, a coffee cup that held a few fancy pens, a small desk lamp, and a stemless wine glass with fake pink flowers. I put a folding chair up to the desk and covered it with an inexpensive, plush blanket that I had for years. And I fell in love.
I know I’ve said this a lot throughout this series, but the fact remains that energy is everything and sometimes vibing on the right frequency is just a matter of perspective.
No matter what type of space you have or where it is, your attitude about it plays a significant role in your self-care journey. You can complain, whine, and wish you had something fancier or you can be grateful for what you have, take pride in it, and treat your space with beauty, love, and respect. One attitude will fill your self-care cup. The other will deplete it. Both have the power to shape how you view everything else that’s been entrusted in your care. The question is, will it be for better or for worse? The choice is yours.
Fueled by her expertise as a news producer, writer, and certified health coach, Kharissa Parker is passionate about helping entrepreneurs in Kansas City achieve their goals without sacrificing self-care. Check out her brand, The KP Method, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.