Finding Your Zen... Decor

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For parents of kids with type 1 diabetes, stress levels are often high -- and it's hard to find time (or even a place) to relax and truly unwind. However, it's crucial that you find a way -- or you might just burn out, and that's not good for anybody.

Design expert and feng shui consultant Kathryn Weber says, "As the mother of two adopted children with emotional and physical challenges, I know exactly how demanding a mother's day can be and how it drains you. It's important for a mom to have a space to herself where she can relax."

In a crowded house with no extra bedrooms or space, how -- and where -- are you supposed to build such a Zen Den? "I recommend that stressed moms create their own luxury corner," Weber says. "A luxury corner can be a spot in your bedroom with a chaise or chair with ottoman. It should have a lamp for reading, a side table with drawers to hold a few favorite things, some books or notepads to write down your to-do's, a soft candle, and a completely decadent throw in nubby wool, thick fleece, fluffy down, or whatever texture you like best -- perfect for cuddling a mom like you who's been working hard all day and focusing on her child's needs. The luxury corner is your own special spot to withdraw to -- and it's yours alone."

When creating your Zen space, don't forget about color. "Restful colors like sages, stones and other earth tones offer a sense of tranquility," advises Mary Lawlor, Kelly-Moore Paints' manager of color marketing. "Green/blues tend to be very relaxing colors as they mimic the peacefulness of nature." Speaking of nature, try to bring the outside in. Artist and designer Pablo Solomon, who has studied the Zen arts for over 40 years and has incorporated their principles into his designs, says, "Zen art and design is based on the balance of earth, water and sky. Zen gardens have elements of each." He recommends investing in a small water fountain (usually under $20) to aid meditation and making sure your Zen space has a window to help you feel closer to nature.

According to interior design guru Michael Craig, plants can create an oasis of calm. "Those with nice strong leaves radiate a wonderful calming energy," he says. To banish any negative energy, edit your photos: "Is your mother-in-law or angry uncle staring down at you in your calming corner? Make sure you only include pictures of people who add positive vibes to your home," he says.

Interior decorator Elena Atsaidis created her own sanctuary in her home and can't imagine her life without it. "In today's world, with the multitasking phenomenon everywhere, we are all in need of a space to unwind," she explains. "I have a Zen Den that reflects my love for travel. The room's color is a deep aqua, which reminds me of the sea. The decor is Middle Eastern, with memorabilia from my parents' birthplace in Greece, which also is very soothing. Surrounding yourself with things you love, that have meaning, is important. I light candles there in the evenings and burn my favorite incense to set a mood for meditation. I find that it immediately turns my left brain off -- and my senses are calmer."

Having your own Zen area -- be it a room, outdoor space, or corner -- may give you the space you need to take care of you and your needs, so that you'll have the strength and energy to take care of your child's needs.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.

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