Remember when you were a kid and every so often a huge cardboard box would come into your possession? What happened? Why, you made a fort of course. Or a hideout, or a play house, or a rocket, or a boat or submarine or other happy place. The point being, you made something you could crawl into that was yours.
I’d decorate my box with markers and crayons and my dad would cut a door into it for me and then a small flap in the side to which a string was attached so I could open and close my window. This plain cardboard box was my sanctuary. It was a special place I could go that was all mine and it felt magical.
I don’t care who you are or how old you might be, or what your station in life is. Everyone needs a place they can go to where they can step out of daily life and just relax. All of us need a place to recharge our batteries, where we feel safe and where we can do things that bring us joy whether it’s writing, drawing, reading, playing piano, exercising or just sitting and thinking. You need the equivalent of that cardboard box you crawled into as a little kid. It doesn’t have to cost a penny. It just has to give you that feeling.
Creating Your Happy Place
KEY COMPONENTS OF A SANCTUARY
- It’s somewhere you feel safe.
- It has things in it you enjoy.
- It has privacy.
- You’ve made the area special. (See “equipping your sanctuary” below.)
- You literally look forward to being there.
- You feel peace and joy in it.
THINGS TO DO IN YOUR SANCTUARY
Mix and match as desired. Whatever you choose needs to give you a deep feeling of peace and pleasure.
- Read an engrossing novel.
- Read poetry.
- Watch a special show. (Not to be confused with typical TV watching.)
- Paint, draw, sculpt etc.
- Look through a favorite magazine.
- Hand write letters.
- Cooking (really special dishes)
- Deep breathing.
- Watch the sun rise or set.
- Positive Affirmations
- Spend special time with a dog or cat.
- Eat a special treat. i.e. A healthy muffin you love and a cup of herbal tea.
SANCTUARY LOCATIONS ( a few examples)
- A special corner in a quiet room of your house.
- The bathtub.
- A spot in the back yard.
- A special lane you enjoy walking down.
- Your bedroom.
- Your roof.
- The local antique shop where you can get lost.
- The local bookstore with coffee shop.
- A local cafe.
- Your treadmill.
- Your tub where you enjoy soaking and relaxing. With candles of course.
- Some find their Zen and peace by exercising. Walk, run, bike, do yoga etc.
- Out in nature.
- Help out at a homeless shelter, read to kids etc. Serving others can bring incredible peace of mind and joy.
- For those who find your zen in cooking, the kitchen can be a sanctuary while cooking something extra special.
- The dining room table for doing something you love. Just set aside the time and make it special while you’re there.
- Any place at all that makes you feel peaceful being there.
EQUIPPING YOUR SANCTUARY
It’s important to make your sanctuary special in some small way. Examples you can mix and match:
- If you like to draw have a special pad of paper and pencils, paints etc.
- If you like to read, use a very nice bookmark and/or book cover. Maybe a small pretty notepad for writing thoughts it inspires.
- If you like to write, get a special journal or writing pad for doing so, with an extra nice pen.
- If you like to meditate, have some candles or incense.
- If you like to listen to music, have that on hand.
- Enjoy a special treat while in your sanctuary. Maybe it’s a place where you look forward to enjoying a cup of herbal tea and a muffin. Use a beautiful tea cup or mug for this time.
- Place pictures or framed quotes in your spot. Place a flower in a small vase there. Make it an area that is enticing to your eyes.
- If your sanctuary is a walk down a beautiful lane or road, make the event into a ritual in some way. Wear a special pack equipped with small things such as a small notebook, chap stick, a camera etc.
- If your sanctuary is the bathtub where you look forward to soaking and relaxing or listening to music, make it special while you’re in there. Light a candle or two, use special bath salts and lotions.
- If you’re someone who finds peace while exercising, wear special clothes that you feel good in. Hang a motivational poster than inspires you. Keep a pretty journal where you write your progress in. (Check out our Treadmill Nook for ideas!)
- If you fine your joy while cooking, play music while you do it, wear a beautiful apron. Use a special wooden spoon set.
*Make sure if you’re using a space that others in the home also use that they know that during your sanctuary time you’re not to be disturbed.
REMEMBER this is not about doing things mindlessly. This is about filling yourself up with things that bring you deep joy and pleasure. That will be different for everyone. For example, for some it might be watching a special TV show because in their life they seldom get to watch TV or movies so it’s a unique event. If you did it all the time it would not be “special”. Get it?
I love bedtime. I look forward to it every day. Because of this I’ve made going to bed a ritual and my bedroom is my sanctuary spot. At night I brush my teeth, pull down the covers, turn on my nightstand light and fan (I sleep with a fan as I also love the wind.) Then I brush my teeth (I even have a ritual for that!), undress and crawl under my fluffy covers. Next to my bed is my Kindle and my iPhone both which have long charger cords that stay there. I grab my Kindle and read whatever I’m currently reading, which is usually several things. I’ll start with some non-fiction that I’m learning something from. Then I end with my current novel, reading until I almost fall asleep. Pure heaven. Even though going to bed is a typical thing everyone does, I’ve turned it into something very meaningful for me.
I recently did a Budget Bedroom Makeover in my bedroom to make it even more special. I used mostly things I had and it now not only feels like a sanctuary it looks like one.
When Roy needs peace and clarity he literally heads for the hills. He’s done this for years and years as he finds his solace in nature. He’s had to adapt depending on where we lived but there is always some feeling of nature he can find even if it’s a park. Luckily we now have plenty of actual hiking spots close by.
A few years back he made his own walking stick to take with him. He created it from a branch that he sanded and painted. Then he added a crystal on top. Its beautiful. After one of his walks he never fails to come back rejuvenated, peaceful and with much more clarity.
JUST DO IT!
If you happen to be one of the lucky few whose life is calm and peaceful most of the time and you get to regularly do things you enjoy with ease, consider yourself blessed! However, if your life is more typical with normal stresses it’s incredibly important to have these small times alone and to create your own happy place.
If all you have is the equivalent of a cardboard box you can still accomplish this because a sanctuary is not so much a place as it is a mindset. It matters not where it is as long as it feels special to you. So go find your sanctuary and visit it daily even if it’s just for a few minutes. You’ll be amazed at how you’ll come to treasure that time and what it does for you.