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Creating a Harmonious Home

by Vicki McKenna(more info)

listed in chinese oriental medicine, originally published in issue 294 - May 2024

An Untidy Home

After my toddler grandchildren have paid a visit, my living room looks as if I have been burgled. Toys are strewn about, a mess of paper and paints – interrupted works of art lie abandoned. The kitchen is a muddle of dishes waiting to be washed and crumbs from food preparations moulder on the worktop. It doesn't take long to tidy up the mess and as outer order is restored I feel a sense of inner order,  feelings of harmony and well-being arise within me. I enjoy my grandkid's visits, I feel deeply thankful for the privilege of being a grandmother but I recognize that I am also calmer, more relaxed when my surroundings are clean and tidy. Then it feels as if my house is truly my home.

A patient of mine loved to collect bric-a-brac to the extent that she became a hoarder. Every room in her flat was chaotically filled with books, clothes, ornaments collected from charity shops and online purchases. She had started to feel overwhelmed by her attachment to all her ‘stuff’ and told me that it felt “as if the house has been taken over by all the accumulation of things”.



Photo Credit: Carregar on  Pixabay


A study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that an untidy home, chaotic and cluttered, reduces psychological well-being by decreasing a sense of identifying with your house as your home. The authors report that clutter has a negative impact on subjective well-being. The study goes on to say “excessive clutter is a hallmark of compulsive hoarding, a remarkably common but often hidden psychological disorder that can pose serious threats to the health, safety, and well-being of the affected person and those who live with or near them.”.[1] A messy home, it seems, can contribute to stress and based upon a growing body of research it appears that when a home becomes too untidy it can negatively affect mental health as you feel dislocated, no longer identifying with your house as your sanctuary, your home. And it would appear that all members of a family can be affected when living with a hoarder. An internet-based survey of six hundred and sixty-five family informants who reported having a family member with hoarding behaviours revealed that living with an individual who hoards was associated with elevated reports of family strain.[2]



Photo Credit:  Carregar  on Pixabay


Daoists of old understood the importance of health of an orderly, harmonious house and from this understanding, they developed the art of Feng Shui.

Feng Shui

The Universe is composed of Chi – the life force and this manifests as Yin and Yang through the Five Elements of Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. Feng Shui suggests that people can improve the flow of Chi in their lives and balance Yin and Yang in their homes by clearing clutter thus creating a clean and tidy space to allow Chi to flow freely.

Furthermore, Feng Shui suggests what items need to be placed near or far away from doors and windows to increase or decrease the flow of Chi so that it can enter and leave through those openings. And a small room that is cluttered with belongings does not give Chi space to move --it becomes stagnant - this can make you feel angry, frustrated, depressed. Conversely in a large room where there is very little furniture, the energy rushes in like a flood, which can make you feel overwhelmed and anxious. The important thing is to get the correct balance of space and objects to allow the free movement of Chi.

Once you have created enough space to allow free flow of Chi Feng Shui also involves choosing the most suitable colours for your room, correct lighting and where best to place plants. All of these strategies will transform our personal environments to create inner calm and harmony thus improving our mental and physical health.

You do not need to be a Feng Shui expert to create a calm, harmonious space – just remember these 3 simple tips to help make your home a stress-free, relaxing environment. The changes you make will have a positive effect in your life.

  1. Clear clutter --open the room up by decreasing furniture and ornaments. This will increase the flow of Chi;
  2. Make the entrances to all the spaces in your home light-filled welcoming places. Include plants and good lighting as you come into your hallway or into a room to create an open welcoming feel;
  3. Ensure a colour scheme to suit your energy needs – muted colours will help calm whereas bright colours will increase energy levels.


  1. Catherine A. Roster Joseph R. Ferrari M. Peter Jurkat. The dark side of home: Assessing possession ‘clutter’ on subjective well-being. Journal of Environmental Psychology Vol 46:  32 -41. June 2016.
  2. David F Tolin et al. Family burden of compulsive hoarding: results of an internet survey Behaviour Research and Therapy. March 2008.


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About Vicki McKenna

Vicki McKenna BA Lic Ac trained at The College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in Leamington Spa with Professor Worsley from 1981 gaining her Lic Ac. in 1984 and has been practising acupuncture in Scotland since then. Her book A Balanced Way Of Living; Practical and Holistic Strategies for Coping with Post Polio Syndrome is available from 


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