Can Feng Shui Relieve Stress?
Picture your home, your office, your car. Scan around the area and count the piles of stuff, the amount of things you’ve accumulated, the boxes and shelves of knickknacks and doodads that have made themselves comfortable taking up space in your everyday life. It’s no wonder we feel stressed out!
We all search for things to relieve our stress – vitamins, food, sleep, exercise, and getting out into nature can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle, but the best way to manage our worries is to strike the right balance. When it comes to your environment, do you find it calming, or does something seem off?
What is Feng Shui?
Enter feng shui, an ancient Chinese technique thought to be about 3,500 years old. Feng shui is all about balance, seeking to find harmony between individuals and their surrounding environments by paying attention to the energy around us, the changing and moving life force known as qi (pronounced ‘chee’).
Today, we’re going to look at how using feng shui to organize the physical spaces we inhabit the most can help us feel a little less stressed as we take control and find awareness in our environment. The world of feng shui is massive, so here is the tip of the iceberg to whet your appetite!
How Feng Shui Works
Feng shui is an art form, providing direction on how to best arrange objects in space to find the balance that encourages the most positive energy flow. Ultimately, it’s about the belief that what happens in the world is determined by unseen forces (qi) and if we can ‘unblock’ the way, those forces can flow freely, bringing us calm and balance. Whether you want to feng shui your bedroom, living room, office, or your entire home, you have to keep this method in mind.
Chakras work in much the same way. Chakras, often described as little wheels or centers of energy within our bodies, can be blocked as well, leaving us feeling off balance and not ourselves, physically and mentally.
Unblocking the way for positive energy to flow through, whether in our home, our bodies or our minds can help us relax and ultimately lead to a lower stress life. Clutter, whether physical or mental, really only serves to get in the way of our ability to focus and can block our qi.
When you feel the most stressed, is it because you are super concerned about the one thing you have to do today, or is it when you feel like you’ve over-committed and have to juggle what seems like an insurmountable and never-ending parade of chores, projects and deadlines?
Having 75 things on your desk at one time in your office is overwhelming enough to deter anyone from de-cluttering. Ditto for a home filled with, well, stuff. Is it easier to decide what book to read if you have 5 or 65? Can you relax after a long day’s work if you have to trip over 10 pairs of shoes just to get in your front door?
Related Article: Declutter Your Life: Out With the Old, in With the New
How You Can Incorporate Feng Shui Into Your Life
This is really the tip of the iceberg, as there are many properties and guidelines to feng shui, from what colors and shapes to use together, to where you place things in your home, and how the 5 elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water play into these decisions.
Each element is associated with its own distinct shape, color, and attributes. In good feng shui design, each will be balanced, placed, and represented for the best energy flow.
Water - Curves, black & blue, relaxation & inspiration
Wood - Rectangles, green & teal, growth & expansion
Fire - Triangles, red & orange & purple, passion & emotion
Earth - Squares, brown & yellow, grounding & stability
Metal - Circles, white & metallic, strength & independence
The elements and the directions they are facing within your home or office can contribute to the flow of qi and may highlight areas where you feel you are struggling.
Using Personalized Feng Shui Effectively
For example, if you’re feeling a scattered, disorganized, or nervous energy, you probably have too much metal represented. If you’re quick to anger and frustrate, you have too much fire. If you’re especially stressed about your finances, you have too little wood and/or water.
Whether you have too much or too little of an element, just look at the color and shape they represent to decide what to add and what to remove from your space. If you need more wood because you’re worried about your health, try to bring in some houseplants (Bamboo is considered good luck!) in a rectangular vase.
If too much fire has you on the edge and snapping at your roommate, partner, or kids, you might want to cut back on the red and orange pillows, or an excess of triangles.
Stressed out from bad nightmares or trouble sleeping? You might have a Northeast facing bed that promotes strong emotions and bad dreams. The way you position your bed can also be decided by feng shui.
It’s thought that the most beneficial directions for it to face are West (contentment), East (ambition, growth), Southeast (promotes communication), and Southwest (calm, feeling settled). Facing North (can increase sleep disorders) and South (high energy, not sleep-inducing) are the least likely to bring you a rejuvenating night of sleep.
While there is a lot to learn from the world of feng shui, the best way to start is to declutter! Tackle that junk drawer (we know you have one) as a warm-up and use the momentum to keep going from there. Do you need every piece of clothing in your closet at the same time? Imagine how much easier your morning would be if you could immediately see what you have to work with.
What would you do with an extra 5 minutes in your day? That tiny window of time could be the difference between an average day and a great day. Even making small changes will give you a glimpse of how much more relaxing your home could be if you simplify and allow some new energy to flow through.
Can feng shui contribute to feeling less stressed? Yes. While the practice and intention of feng shui can open up the flow of qi and bring you positive energy, the simple intention of deciding to take control of your environment to make it feel more welcoming and harmonious can have a huge impact on your mental health.
This is another way of empowering yourself to change the patterns you have established that are contributing to your own stress and negativity. Face what’s not working and start on a path to mindfulness. It’s not a stretch to think that if you can control one aspect of your life, you can do the same in others!
Setting up your home to be the refuge you deserve is certainly a good way to start – even if you can’t tackle everything at once, you have now begun to make real progress towards creating a place where you can retreat and find calm when you need to escape.
There is so much more to feng shui! How do you use feng shui in your life?
Related Article: The Benefits of Bringing Plants Into Your Home
* Editor’s note: This article was previously published May 25, 2018 and has been updated for relevance and accuracy.