A few months ago, our homes were just that, homes. They were places where we slept, kept our things, ate together sometimes. We hung our clothes in closets, took showers, slept. In the mornings, we rushed to get ready for work, get our kids off to school, and us off to work.
Now things are different. Our homes have become the place where we live, work, go to school and yes, eat. Some of us have found ways to be creative with carving out spaces where we can accomplish all these things. Some of us may have noticed, no matter how large the house, there’s not enough room for it to be all we need. We purge the unused, but purging can only help that problem so much. Some have decided if this is the new normal in life, then perhaps it’s time to consider, do we add on or move to something that will accommodate us better.
For all the things our homes now must be, one space is usually overlooked, the let it be, let it go, give me peace zone.
We all need someplace quiet — a space to relax, other than the bathtub. It doesn’t have to be large. It can be a corner in a room now used for school work. A place on the porch, in the yard, or even created in a closet.
It’s where we escape when the pressure of life is getting to us. It’s where we go to read a book, think, contemplate or meditate. The only requirements are we make it cozy and welcoming.
How do we do that?
By stealing some ideas from other cultures who have made an art out of comfort.
The Japanese language has three alphabets; Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. As if that wasn’t enough, the Japanese culture also has life separated into the three places that define you.
Your home is considered your first place. It is where you live. Your clothes are there, and your shower. You keep your things secured there, waiting for you to enjoy when you get home.
Your second place is where you work. You go to work and do your job there. You spend your set hours in that place, and then you leave it.
What then is your third place?
It’s the spot where you can relax, nap if needed. It’s where you can have a cup of coffee without the crowds and noise. It’s your Kissaten.
Kissatens are places to relax and unwind from the busyness of life. They are places where you can simply be.
Birthed in the time before Japan became more international, they offered a place to rest for people living, working, or passing through. The concept of these kissatens was based on traditional tearooms. They were a place where tea, later coffee, and sweets are served.
To make a Kissaten in your home, place a comfortable chair, one you love curling up in with your favorite drink, in a spot away from the noise in your home. Inside, outside, it doesn’t matter.
All that’s important is this is a place where you can leave your bags of busyness behind.
Ideally, it should have a view of a peaceful scene, garden, water, whatever brings you to a state of relaxation. When you’ve placed your chair in your peace-filled zone, put in your earphones, play some soft music, sip your drink and forget all that’s going on around you. A hammock offers not only a place to relax and read but take a nap as well.
Your Kissaten needs to inspire a sense of welcoming coziness. The Nordic culture excels in cozy, so steal a few ideas on creating Hygge (hoo-guh) from them.
Hygge, derived from the sixteenth-century word Norwegian word Hugga (to comfort, to console), is related to the English word “hug.” Who doesn’t want to get hugged?
Hygge has no exact English translation. It has long been associated with relaxation, gratitude, and indulgence. These invoke the feeling of coziness in one’s skin, in one’s place. There’s also the noun form of the word; it’s Hyggebusker. You know that pair of comfy, worn, faded sweatpants or flannels that makes you feel good when you wear them inside the house? The same pair you refuse to wear in public. They’re hyggebusker.
Add some comforting coziness to your leave me be spot with candles, a soft wrap or throw to cuddle with, and don’t forget a little comfort food or sweets to enjoy with a drink. Swiss chocolate anyone?
If you’re more of a sunshine, summery type instead of snow lover winter person like the Nordic culture brings to mind, think French.
Your kissaten is your space, and if you want it to have more of a lover’s atmosphere, then Viva La France it.
Like other Western European cultures, the french embrace an attitude of c’est la vie, that’s life. In America, its called letting go.
When the french need to decompress from a stress-filled day, they partake of petit aperitif, a small appetizer.
Armed with a glass of wine and a healthy snack, they engage in letting go of the workday before beginning dinner preparations.
The act of separating themselves from one world before entering another one helps maintain a work-life balance.
Enjoying a glass of wine in your kissaten at the end of your work time gets your mind and body ready to be engaged in the after work-family life.
Now more than ever, separation partitions between work and home must be made if we’re going to thrive in our disrupted lives. The future has always been uncertain; we chose not to see it that way. Now we can’t deny it.
By embracing the french attitude of c’est la vie, you can move through the workday until time to enjoy a petit aperitif, and mentally unwind in your kissaten space.
Before starting your evening ritual, get dressed in your hyggebusker pants, then light your scented candles. Curl up in your chair and touch something soft. Grab a drink, read a book. Feel the stress melt away, and the calming peace overtake you.
When you’ve let it go, and have put away work stress, contemplated, and meditated your way to inner peace, you’re ready to move on to the evening life. Now it’s time to “laissez les bon temps rouler.”
Your work-life balance is achieved for the day. Tomorrow you get to start over again. But that’s all right. Your downtime, let me be peace zone, will be waiting for your next visit.
Parents use time-outs for kids to get control of their actions and emotions. A tantrum is nothing more than a child’s way of expressing stress and anxiety with a situation. When you feel your anxiety levels climbing, your frustrations mounting, then send yourself to your time-out spot; your kissaten.