In this episode, Stephen will unwrap how spaces and places make us feel and how we can begin to create spaces that make us feel healthier.
The transcript is below:
Welcome to Your Healthy House. I’m Stephen Collette. In this podcast I explore your indoor environmental quality concerns and opportunities. We look at the facts and debunk the fiction. We will discuss examples you can relate to and the doable actions you can take in your own home or apartment. We will also look at the history of how our homes are, the way they are and the future of healthy housing for everyone. I promise to make this fun and interesting for both of us.
Episode number 11. Home for the holidays – the emotional spaces. If you’re listening to these podcasts as they come out, Happy holidays. If you’re listening to this podcast because you’ve stumbled across it, happy Tuesday. Today, what I want to talk about is the idea of the emotional impact that our spaces and places have on us, and we have on those spaces as well. So we think about this and we talk about it because of the holiday season. We have traditions. We have experiences. We have memories that are built into places and spaces, so we may do things like go home for the holidays, go to our family home place we grew up in, for example, and we have memories and experiences in each of the rooms and spaces when we’re in there. So we see the Christmas tree up or we see the table set for Eid, or whatever the holiday you’re celebrating. And we have these experiences. We have these memories. We have a memory of the candles in the dark in the in the winter setting. We have experiences of food. We have experiences of toys, of interactions with people within the rooms that were in or outside our places ,if we’re in somewhere warmer. And so these spaces create an emotional feeling, and that could be a positive feeling, of course. Certainly the holiday times have that. It could be a negative feeling as well. We can have trauma, and we can have terrible things that have happened to us in our homes. unfortunately. So what makes us feel how do the spaces create or embed these memories on our psyche? I’m clearly I’m not a psychologist or anything smart like that. I’m a building nerd, but we need to really think about how our places make us feel. Is your home of fortress or a nest? When you come home from work, is it full lock down, you know, guarding and protecting yourself from the from the stress of work from the strain of living in an urban environment or when you get home. Is it a decompression? Is that it? I’m safe. I’m back in my place. How does your home make you feel? And it doesn’t have to be a permanent home. It doesn’t have to be a house. You could be renting your apartment. But what does it make you feel? Where is your safe space? Where’s your place that you unwind? Then it may not be your whole house or apartment. It could just be a room or a favorite chair that you settle into with a cup of tea or a glass of wine or whatever you need and a good book, or maybe a great podcast. Please leave a review. And that’s your space. No, not all of us need the calming component too, and that’s an interesting thing. We need a balance. So yes, we definitely need that nest component within our places of space. We need a place where we can rejuvenate, regenerate, heal. We also need places that within our home that enliven us and excite us and arouse us so that we’re doing things were handy, were doing crafts were doing art. We’re doing woodworking, whatever it is that there’s something that gets us going right, that we can put our creative juices out there. And even if you’re not that creative reading or writing all of those air, just how we express who we are and we need places to make us feels safe to do those things. And if we don’t have that, oh, well, I’d love to do painting, but I really don’t have a place for it, would be such a mess, and it’s such a problem, and the kids will get in the way. If we can’t create that space, then we have to think about her spaces. So we need calming spaces. We need a place, and that can oftentimes be your bedroom. And that’s really one of the better places to make that super calming space, because we want to heal ourselves. We want to be able to have a space in our bedroom that’s calming. That’s quiet. That’s peaceful. That’s a sanctuary, Um, and that’s a proper term, not used in the religious text, of place that we can get away from the hustle bustle. But as I mentioned, memories play a role as well. And these memorable events impress upon us spaces and places. And that’s because that’s simply how memory works. Our memory associates space with a memory. So we have these experiences in our lives, and they’re impressed upon us with the space with it. So it’s never just the memory proper. Um, it’s the details surrounding that experience of of the environment. Now, I want you to think about a memory. Think about a positive memory. Hopefully, please, and think about the space. It doesn’t even have to be in your house. It could be in a park. It could be in a garden. It could be in the shopping mall where you’re boyfriend or girlfriend gave you your first kiss or something. Whatever. The shopping mall’s not particularly a romantic, special Sacred space. But if that was where your first high school sweetheart gave you a kiss, you’re gonna remember that outside the Gap store. Whatever. Walking back through that space for a long time, you may have a positive memory with that and associate with that space or sharing french fries and a pop with your grandparents. You know, the first time they took you out or whatever the case may be. And it could be unwrapping your favorite toy a Christmas. It could be the first time you drove the car on your own. And you remember all the details of the road and everything. And so these are really, really impressionable? Uh, honest. Now, have you ever been in an opposite mood within those spaces? Have you ever been crabby in the mall? Have you ever been, uh, feeling not well in the car or had a fight with your significant other in your bedroom? These have all happened, right? And so we can change those memories and those emotions with that space. Now, hopefully we want to build more positive memories and feelings towards those spaces. But it does happen. And sometimes that change is permanent. Sometimes, you know, the events are either super traumatic or super positive that no matter when you go back to that space, especially they don’t still live in that space, there’s one or two strong memories that take over your brain
Your Healthy House with Stephen Collette is sponsored by the Building Biology Institute, a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to creating healthy homes, schools and workplaces free of toxic indoor air, tap water pollutants and hazards posed by electromagnetic radiation. Through a combination of online learning and in person seminars, we offer professional certifications, including Building Biology Environmental Consultant, Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist and Building Biology New-build Consultant. For more information, visit our website at www.buildingbiology.org .
So let’s talk about your current spaces now. The building. You’re in the house, the apartment, the trailer, the boat, whatever you’re living in Tiny house. What makes a current space within that living environment good or bad? Right. What is the favorite? What is your favorite place within your house or apartment? Why is it your favorite place within your house or apartment? Is that the way the sun shines in and hits you while you’re relaxing? Is that the music? Is it the colors? Is it the comfy couch? I lived in an apartment years and years ago, going to university, and there was nothing spectacular about that place. It was a university apartment block, so it wasn’t pretty, not a lot of redeeming value, but me and my roommate liked the place. But what it really had that I liked and I remembered today is that had really deep window wells. So they had these tall windows and they were wide enough that you can really thick that you could actually sit in the window. Well, and I really liked that. It was like a window seat when I would sit there and read and try to find a slice of sunshine and greenery in an urban downtown core. But it was a little oasis. I could tuck in there and read away, and that was a nice place within a dingy apartment. And we’ve all had little nooks and crannies, little spaces and places.
But spend some time and think about, why is that? Why is that place my favorite place within the house, right, Right now we’ve got a back deck that we enjoy in the warmer weather. We have a walk out basement and this is on the main floor and we have trees coming right up to the back deck, and so it really feels like we’re in a tree house and We still have neighbors around us and everything. We live in a village, but we still feel like we’re part of nature. It’s a wonderful place, the feelings really nice. The space, the design of it is, is really wonderful. And so for us, that’s a really great space.
Now think about a place within your home or apartment that you don’t really like that you’re like, Man, I could care less about this one way or the other. Think like the laundry room. Are you excited about your laundry room? Is it this most sacred space in your holy apartment or house? Probably not right. There’s nothing exciting, typically about a laundry room. It’s a place we simply do a task that we have to do. We don’t necessarily want to do it, but we know we have to do it. And so because of that, we have different emotions regarding our laundry room. Now, if you have a spectacular laundry room, send me a photo, or email me. I’d love to hear about it. If it’s yours. Best space in the whole world, awesome. But for most of us, it’s a workspace. But how could we change our emotional relationship to a space. Well, we can do that a couple different ways. First, change the attitude. And that could be. I’m sick and tired of being stuck with laundry. It’s time someone of the rest of the family help out and share the load. And that would change your mental space. That’s a really serious concern, right? If you’re the only one ever doing it and you’re grumpy about it, then that’s a that’s a psychological conversation. If you’re just hate the fact that the nicks and dings and the paint scratches and the place is ugly. Uh, rightfully so, because for those of us homeowners, we don’t want to spend money in our laundry room because we’re in there the least amount of time. But maybe we should. So maybe your laundry room needs a fresh coat of paint, or it needs, ah, you know, some new cabinets or boy, if I didn’t have to bend over to put the washing the front load washing machine, my back wouldn’t hurt. Okay, well, maybe we lift up the machines right? What wouldn’t make that space nicer and more enjoyable and more pleasurable for you to be in so they could be physical, mental, uh, social. There could be any of those opportunities, right? A list. Talk it over with family.
When we think about doing renovations and additions, we have to think about how can we make this space better? Right? And here’s the challenge. You may have a significant other. Yeah, it’s a challenge on many levels, but that’s why they are significant other because we love them immensely and they’re part of our lives and we couldn’t live without them. But we also have kids. Same things good and bad. Um, and each of us has our internal concept of a wonderful, magical special place and a terrible place. Right? So we have this image of angst ridden teenager’s doors closed, curtains shuttered, you know, dark clothes and dark music. And that’s how they’re expressing themselves. And typically as parents. Do you want the whole house to look like, you know, Army of darkness kind of grim zombie apocalypse? Probably not. I’m sure there’s a few of you out there again send me some photos very cool, but we have different emotional states in different rooms, and as Children they wish to be able to express their emotional feeling of what their nest looks like. And that may be posters all over the wall of their favorite singers or their favorite interest. And it could be Lego and it could be maps, and it could be music and whatever. But that’s how they’re trying to express who they are. And depending on the parent parenting approach, you could give some leeway. Little leeway zero leeway. Um, but you have to let them express it somehow, right? And that’s where the creativity comes over. And sometimes as parents we wish to have everything look wonderful, and we start off making the kid’s bedrooms and in a manner that we think may look good and they may take it over and change it. And that’s okay, too. Same with just being with a significant other, that each of you is going to need a quiet space. Each of you is going to need activities space. Each of you is going to need the space is to work for you physiologically emotionally and biologically.
So I remember a story. My dad renovated a bathroom in my old house after we had moved out, and they were my mom and my dad were on their own. My dad renovated the bathroom, then you got a counter and he got this really deep sink. It was really pretty, and everybody liked it. But it turned out the sink was too deep and it actually physically was hard to bend over to reach the bottom of sink. So it was a lower back problem, and that was a physiological problem. Another time, and that could be changed, right? You could change that up with just changing up the sink and making the heights different or whatnot. Ah, but we also have different colors. We’ve all been in a space where we hate the color. Now colors can be very fashionable and change with years and decades. And if you walk into a house that’s still stuck in the 1970’s, you may think that super groovy or you may be pretty freaked out by the harvest gold paint and the shag carpet on the floors. But for those who live there, that was a great time for them, and physically they feel, and emotionally they feel great within that space because it’s reminding them of all the wonderful memories when maybe the whole family was there growing up, and now they’re retired and empty nesters. So we need to think about those things and with the difference is that your significant other may want. We may not always agree right, And that’s normal because we have different experiences, different emotional experiences with places as we’ve grown up, because a lot of the memories and impressions are from our childhood and so having different experiences, you will have different needs and requirements, and so we need to have those conversations and think about those things.
But we want to remember that we need calming spaces. We need invigorating spaces, and ideally, they’re not the same space, and we need them to be interesting. That’s kind of a cop out. But interesting means not land. We need spaces that air calming with some featured. Maybe we have some, uh, you know, some beautiful art on the column walls, you know? Ah, simple wall system in a bedroom. Maybe we have, ah, a really spectacular, vibrant, rich red to make the living room really warm around the fireplace, or but with some papo colors in the cushions or whatnot. I’m not an interior designer, but we need tohave that balance. If you have just plain old classic apartment complex white or off white walls with nothing going on, it’s pretty bland, right? And the first thing we do is we try to make it our own by adding colors and adding, uh, style and arts and our furnishings to create our own space and to make it more interesting. A little string of lights, right? A little vase of flowers, a little piece of art. And those can change how we feel about a space. Because when we’re down when we’re sick, when we’re ill, we’re grumpy. We’re tired. We’re cranky. Were sore. Where achy. How we think about our space is definitely different than when I’m feeling great at great day at work. I worked out this morning. Great mood. Sun is shining. Kids, they’re good, significant other is good. Everyone’s happy. You see the space different, obviously, and so what we can also create is the idea is like especially of work stuff, especially working outside of the home. And it’s tough and you come home and you’re beat. What little details can I create within our space to give me back that energy to give me that little boost to give me that, whether be vitality, whether it be the calming, whatever you need, right, because each of us is different. But thinking about the details that you have right now within your own space, how can I amplify those in a way that creates the feeling and emotions to help support me when I need it? I don’t have an answer for that. I’d have to see your space. Give me a call. I’d love to come to your space, but we can think about those sort of details, and we can help create a space that makes you feel good and keeps you in the moods that you need to be in or want to be in.
So in conclusion, I want you to think about your holidays, your visits to your friends and neighbors. If it’s not the holidays while you’re listening to this, what makes those spaces resonate with you? What makes you dislike those spaces? How could you change those spaces in your head in your mind to make them more enjoyable to you and then have that conversation with others? right, we can play the game. Mom. Dad, you need to update your 1960’s cupboards and get rid of that 1968 fridge and freezer, whatever. Whether they do it or not, that’s up to them because it’s still their space. But thinking about just how you feel within the space is and how we can manipulate the space to create a suite of emotions that were hoping for Well, that’s really how to create your healthy house. Thanks for listening. Cheers
I hope you enjoyed the show. Please leave a review and subscribe to the podcast, and you will be doing your part to help others create their own healthy homes. If you would like to learn more about me, Stephen Collette and what I do, please check out my Web site at www.yourhealthyhouse.ca. Music for the podcast is by Brian Pickett of Voodoo Highway Music. Audio technical support is by Mike Pickett. Editorial support is by Eric Rosen. I’m your host, Stephen Collette. Thanks for listening and enjoy your day. Cheers