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Life at Home Insights

The power of certainty in an uncertain world

For many of us, the world beyond our four walls has become unrecognisable – and home has become, more than ever, the most important place in the world. So, because of our fascination at IKEA with the intricacies of life at home, we’re talking to 20 households across the world each week, to discover the realities of people’s daily existence there. This week we heard about the importance of rituals to create calm, comfort and control.
The challenge of home as our everything

Office, school, gym, café, sanctuary. Where once home was where we bookended the day, during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been where every minute is lived. In becoming all things to all those we share it with, home is a place that has to host – and adapt to – a constant cycle of activities.

With boundaries blurred and a lack of divisions, our households describe a feeling of endlessness to the day, which can pull on people’s wellbeing. This has left many feeling exhausted:

“I feel very, very tired... so when the bell rings in the morning to get up, it feels like I haven’t slept, even though I have.”

- Margareta in Italy

Structure within chaos

As a planet, we’ve collectively been shown how little control we really have. For many, this is an unsettling reality to face, so we’re all doing what we can to feel some return of a sense of power.

Many report finding comfort in the creation of structure within the chaos of their days – whether that’s so home-schooling parents can manage their kids’ anxiety by showing what’s coming next, home workers can ensure opportunities for movement or simple anchor points can be maintained, like meals eaten at the same time each day. These repetitive rhythms help people regain a feeling of purpose and establish personal boundaries.

Rituals to routines

Several of our households describe rituals created in early lockdown as necessary – whether for manifesting this sense of structure, for boosting health and immunity or to find escape through new hobbies.

Illenia in Italy, for example, has created hers to mark the difference between home and work time, by cooking a proper daily lunch and ending work with an aperitivo at her window while appreciating what she has. In Hong Kong, Kennith has swapped out partying and the gym for establishing new ways to work from home, buying the pet fish he’s long wanted and delighting in outdoor exercise. Meanwhile in Australia, Shai makes space for himself outside his now-buzzing household with time to reflect during a solo evening walk. Interestingly, all three see so much value in these new rituals, that they plan for them to remain as solid parts of their routines when they come out of lockdown.

Three ways to create rituals

So, rituals are important to our everyday life at home.
But how exactly do we create them?
Here are some simple pointers.

Observe your day

Whether it’s set times for rising from and falling into bed, or a simple daily practise of self-care, before establishing a new ritual, look closely to make sure that what you add – and where – is manageable within your reality. For example, when do you feel most productive? And most energetic? When do you need to be engaged with things for the sake of others, and when are the rest of your family busy with other things? And finally: what do you find most challenging about your life at home right now, that rituals might soothe? Building rituals is about easing – not creating – stress, so answering these questions will help you determine what will work best for you.

Discover what you’re missing

While some of us will be experiencing a great need for space in a time when we’re all together under one roof, our research shows that others have been surprised to find it’s not privacy they’re craving, but connection. In each of our individual experiences – whatever the level of lockdown that currently involves – there are both glaring things we miss, and things we’re only discovering we’re lacking now that they’re gone. Closely examine your needs so you can actively fill the gaps you see. Because when we establish new rituals that we really need, they bring us to a state of calm more quickly – and are more likely to stick.

Set realistic goals

Now isn’t the time to go all-out with 20 new hobbies. Many of us are already overwhelmed by the world outside our windows – and besides, there’s a belief that this is a time for doing less, not more. So, be realistic about the number of rituals you create – and what you want from them. Don’t know what’s realistic for you and struggling with where to start? That’s where points one and two come in, because observing your day and asking what you’re missing will naturally lead to the creation of rituals that speak to you. Oh, and one more tip: ignore what everyone else claims to be doing on social media. Rituals are entirely personal, so there’s no competitive advantage to having more or less of them than anyone else.