"Wash your hands." "Get plenty of sleep." "Eat your vegetables." These well-known rules are sure to keep you healthy, but did you know a little redecorating and reorganizing can go a long way too? The ancient Chinese art of feng shui ("feng" means wind, and "shui" refers to water) aims to channel nature's positive energy (known as chi) to improve your life. How? By positioning furniture, mirrors, plants and other home-decor items to balance the yin and yang while allowing chi to move freely through your house.
"Feng shui can help alleviate many health conditions, including insomnia, headaches, hypertension, depression, stress and premenstrual syndrome," says acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine expert Dr. Qianzhi Wu, vice president of faculty at the Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin in Austin, Texas, and past commissioner of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. These easy fixes will help you balance the energies in three important rooms, to create a healthier home.
In the Bedroom
Establish a snooze zone. "Physical work during the day generates yang, while sleeping at night generates yin. So you need to get adequate rest to balance your yin and yang," says Dr. Wu, who has been practicing feng shui for over 20 years. Ensure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep by getting rid of any gadgets that could disrupt your rest, such as a TV or computer.
Clear out clutter. Chi can't circulate beneath your bed if that space is crammed with storage items. Move them to closets or other out-of-the-way spaces -- reorganizing will help the chi and give you peace of mind.
Let the sunshine in. In the morning, open your windows to let in energizing light and allow the air to circulate.
Work with nature. There are natural and human elements of yin and yang, and the goal is to keep them balanced. In nature, north is yin and south is yang. In your body, your feet are yin and your head is yang. If you can, position your bed so your feet (yin) point toward the south (yang), suggests Wu.
In the Family Room
Set up your seating area. "In feng shui, you want to avoid sharp angles, which act as a dead end for energy," explains Wu. Arrange your sofa and chairs in a semicircle; a flowing floorplan allows energy to move freely.
Hang mirrors. If the room is small, use a mirror to make it seem larger -- you'll also magnify the chi.
Go green. "Plants generate and hold chi inside the house. For the most positive energy, look for varieties with wide, broad leaves, not narrow, sharp leaves," says Wu. Bonus: Plants keep your air clean by releasing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide.
Seek out symmetry. Your furniture should be balanced -- not heavier on one side of the room than on the other.
In the Bathroom
Use soothing hues. Your bathroom should be a relaxing environment in which you renew and revitalize. Paint the walls a calming shade; try light green, yellow, blue or lavender.
Clear the air. Use the exhaust fan regularly to keep chi moving and expel any negative energy.
Make scents. Purify the air by burning incense or placing small pots of fresh herbs -- such as lavender, rosemary or sage -- on the counter.
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Ella Brooksis a New York City-based health writer and editor who has covered health and nutrition for magazines and newspapers nationwide, including Shape, Prevention, Natural Health and Woman's Day.She's a devout hand washer and never misses her annual flu vaccine.
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