When I first transitioned from working a 9-5 in the office to running my business from home, the shift was extreme. It’s not like I hadn’t been warned either. I had heard everything from how hard it was to work from home to how some people succumbed to alcoholism because of the lack of structure.

That’s when I really started to consider how important physical space is. Our environment has the ability to build us up or to create a mountain of resistance. The bad news is that our environment can creep up on us and leave us unsuspecting of its negative effects, but, the good news is that even small changes can transform our space and us along with it.

Changing an environment for the better starts with awareness

Does everything have to start with introspection? I’ve found the answer to that to be an exhausting but resounding ‘yes, yes it does.’ Environments are no different.

Spaces can feel nourishing or draining and the difference is entirely subjective. I’ve found that when I’m paying attention, I can tell when an environment is unsuited for me because I start to feel drowsy.

Tapping into that self-awareness has helped me take my own energy intuition more seriously and actually do something about it much faster.

What has my mind associated with this space?

It turned out that my main issue with working from home was that my mind had associated home with comfort and relaxation.  Oh, and all my vices were just a few feet away (I’m looking at you TV, wine and backyard patio set).

Home just wasn’t categorized with work, and my mind insisted it wasn’t going to budge. So we negotiated.

We dedicated set parameters for work (time and a specific room). We decided on some rules (restricting the number of trips to the fridge but having free reign on tea consumption). We designed the space to feel like an office by adding helpful things, and taking away distractions.

In sight, in mind  

Psychology tells us that if we can make something even just a little bit harder (like taking the batteries out of a remote, for example), we become far less likely to follow through (in this case, watching TV).

Naturally, I’ve found that the opposite is true, too.

Back when I moved into my first home, my intention was that it was the beginning of a brand new chapter of growth. So, when I decorated, I let that intention come through in everything I chose as well as everything I didn’t choose.

I made a mental list of everything the best version of me would do: I would read more, I would be disciplined in my work ethic, I would work out every day, I would have a morning ritual.

So, I added two shelves of books in my living room, started a tally on my calendar to track my workouts, kept my journal and tea  within arm’s reach of where I would start my morning routine and wrote affirmations in places I would see often.

Every one of these things became conscious and subconscious reminders of who I wanted to be, and by integrating them into my everyday environment, the space began to serve me.

Ambiance? Or strategic design?

As a Muralist by profession, I think a lot about how to make spaces better. And what I’ve discovered is that sometimes the biggest transformations can happen through small, practical changes.

When designing my own spaces, I thought long and hard about what areas of my home would be ‘productive’ spaces and which would be ‘relaxing.’ In the productive spaces I installed white lights, a quick and easy change of light bulbs that drastically changed how energised I felt. In the relaxing spaces, I left the builder installed lights- standard bulbs with a yellow-ish hue that were easy on the eyes.

Another way I drastically changed my environment was by leveraging a bit of colour psychology– something I picked up when I started to merge my educational background with my chosen business as an artist.

Our energy is affected by what we see. Certain colours set the tone for how we feel in an environment, that’s why businesses think so hard about them. And in my opinion, we all should.

Personally, I’ve integrated a lot of yellows and blues into my home and work spaces. These colors are also among my go-to’s for my public murals for some of the same reasons:

Yellow signals energy, attention and happiness to our brains. We are drawn to it. Blue is calm and soothing. So, it makes for a beautiful residential addition- whether it’s as an accent wall or scattered through decorations.

Questions to consciously build a better space

Overall, I’ve found that a shift in environment can positively affect the mind, body and spirit. We put time into carefully considering our health, our careers, our finances- why not put some time into the spaces we spend the most time in?

So, I leave you with a few questions to get you started on your journey to create an environment that inspires and uplifts:

  • What is the purpose of this space? (Is it for work? For play?)
  • How do you want to show up to this space? (Imagine you are your best self. What are you doing? How are you interacting with your space?)
  • What things can you replace that will remind you of who you want to be? (Time to swap out the TV for a library? The alcohol pantry with a smoothie bar?)
  • What brings you joy? (Plants? Specific colours? Little artworks that have motivating quotes?)

Start with these. You might just find that sometimes change can start from the outside in.

– Jasmin Pannu

I think it’s important to share our stories. It’s how we can grow and help others. That’s why I write about all of my lessons learnt and yet-to-be learned here.

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