Mood Magic: Using Candlelight to Calm the Hectic Evening Atmosphere in Your Home
Your Day Was Hectic, Your Evening Shouldn't Be
You kind of dread getting home from work in the evening.
In fact, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself gritting your teeth in preparation for what you know awaits you when you get home.
A messy house. A pile of laundry on the sofa waiting to be folded. Dirty dishes left over from breakfast. The dishwasher needs unloaded. Dinner needs to be made.
Honestly, it just feels like one more marathon of tasks to be completed in your day before you can finally collapse in to bed for a few hours of sleep. Then, the next thing you know, you’re back up and the cycle begins again.
I think a lot of us can relate and, the truth is, we wish there was a better way. There has to be a better way, right?
Well, at my house, I’ve found a way to ease that dread and boost the positive energy in our evenings.
Want to know how I do it? It’s super simple.
There's Just Something About Candlelight
Few things in this world shift my mood more quickly than the flicker of candlelight in a dimly lit room.
I’m not sure exactly why, but it somehow just seems to drain the tension from the day, wrapping me up in a sense of peace and calm that makes me feel like I can breathe again.
This is especially true when the days are short and the nights are long, with winter settled-in right outside my home.
There is something deeply beguiling about candlelight, almost like an instinctual, primal attraction.
Is it something instinctual? Connected in our very DNA to a time when our ancestors relied on firelight to light their world against the darkness outside their homes, a time when we still lived in caves and depended upon fire for survival? When a family finally came together at the end of a day and gathered around the hearth to share a meal, the flickering fire must have provided a sense of safety and security.
In any case, no matter the reason behind it, candlelight is shown, even if anecdotally, to have an impact on us.
Candles are used by people around the world for a variety of purposes – during meditation and prayer, during gatherings and meals, and when just relaxing at home after a long day.
I mean, who doesn’t love a nice soak in a warm bath with a candle or two alongside the tub?
Whether triggering relaxation mode or helping us feel connected to something beyond ourselves, it seems candlelight somehow flips a switch in our brain that signals it’s time for an energy shift in our day.
“During the four days of the storm, I became accustomed to the soft light of lamps and candles and grew to like it. When the power came on again, I discovered that I was actually disappointed. The electric lights seemed cold and impersonal; they revealed too much.”
Welcome to My World
As I bemoaned at the beginning of this post, when I get home in the evenings, I have a laundry list of things that need to get done before I can settle in and relax.
Dinner needs to be made, the dirty dishes cleared, dishwasher emptied, dishwasher reloaded, helping kids with homework, yada, yada, yada.
Just thinking about it makes me want to flop down, ignore my responsibilities, and take a nap.
But, alas, there’s adulting to be done, so I have devised a short evening routine that helps me breathe a little easier. I do this as soon as I take off my coat and shoes and have kissed everyone hello, including Freya, the bestest pupper in the whole world.
Turn Out All Those Lights (Okay... most of the lights!)
I wouldn’t say I like overhead lighting. (Does anyone? Show of hands? Yeah. That’s what I thought.)
In fact, I’d say I loathe overhead lighting.
Why? Well, it makes me feel like I’m under a microscope and, even though my husband thinks this is nuts, it gives me a headache.
Overhead lighting is generally harsh, annoying, and a total ambiance killer. Don’t need any of that when the goal is to make home feel like a haven.
Since the rest of my family gets home before I do and they definitely don’t seem to have the same aversion to overhead lighting that I do, it seems every possible overhead light is on when I walk in the door. Thanks, fam! (Except for Freya. She doesn’t turn on the overhead lighting. Such a good girl! Just sayin’.)
So what do I do? I take a quick little tour through the house and turn off all unnecessary overhead lighting (but really, isn’t *all* of it unnecessary? I’m not kidding. Seriously. Ahem.).
After I’ve dealt with all that harsh lighting, I instantly feel better.
The lights go down; my mood comes up.
C'mon Baby, Light my Fire
Now that I can breathe a sigh of relief after nixing the harsh glare of overhead lighting, I light candles in a few strategic places throughout the house.
Our home has an open floorplan, so spreading candles through the main living area to help create a cozy feeling with the flicker of candlelight is pretty easy to do.
I go for the kitchen table, the buffet in the family room area, the mantle over the fireplace, and on my antique vanity that also doubles as a space in the sunroom to display my latest watercolor paintings and a few favorite crystals.
Lighting many candles is what creates the atmosphere that speaks to me, but you don’t have to fill your home with candles. You can use as many or as few as you like. This is about you and your space and what speaks to you. Maybe all it takes is one on the coffee table. You do you!
Before I go any further, I need to clarify here a bit.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re not dwelling solely in candlelight in this household at night, if you’re envisioning us with oil lamps and no electricity.
Now, I won’t deny it, that sounds like a dream to me, but I digress.
I have some beautiful lamps around the house, all with lower wattage warm white bulbs that give off a softer glow than anything overhead. Coupled with the flicker of candlelight throughout the space, the ambiance is killer.
Lots and lots of people enjoy scented candles in their homes, and I’m no exception to that…. except at this time of the evening. Sometimes scents from candles can clash with the smell of whatever I’m cooking for dinner, and that can definitely detract from the calming, appealing ambiance I’m trying to create. I mean, the smell of the salmon I’m cooking for dinner is probably not going to be complemented by the scent of Jasmine candles, ya know?
For this reason, I usually wait until after dinner is finished before lighting anything scented. When I do light scented candles, some of my favorites for relaxation are Eucalyptus Spearmint, Vanilla, or Lavender.
Gather 'round, Fam
On a typical evening, our family gathers in the kitchen and we cook dinner together. Or, I cook dinner and my fam hangs out with me while I do.
We talk about our day and catch up on what’s happening with each of us.
I am a music junkie, so loooooove to put on music at night while we cook dinner and hang out. At this time of night, my favorites are relaxing guitar or Reiki music. They’re calming and make a nice backdrop for sitting together and catching up.
The lower light and warm glow of candles throughout the space, along with soothing music, can bring the energy level down, which helps us relax into a family huddle where we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that another hectic day is behind us.
This entire “cozying down the house” process only takes a few minutes for me to implement before we gather in the kitchen, but it completely changes the mood and energy in our home.
It sets the tone for the rest of our evening together, reminding me to take a deep breath and settle into the beginning of our evening in a much more relaxed frame of mind.
It helps me shrug off the stress and anxiety of the day so that the start of our evening together doesn’t feel like one more part of my day that I’m just rushing to get through.
It reminds me to slow down, relax, and be present with my family.
Once dinner is finished and cleaned up, it’s time for us to start moving into our evening bedtime routine, which is another topic for another post.
Your Turn! Gather Your Tools
First of all, think about the kind of energy you’d like to feel in your home in the evening, or whatever time you’ve finished your work day.
Think about where you spend most of your time in the evening in your home before you head to bed for the night.
Is it the kitchen?
The family room?
Do you have a nice long soak in your tub every evening before bed?
Wherever you spend the bulk of your time in your home, adjust those spaces accordingly to create the atmosphere and mood you’d like to immerse yourself in.
Gather your tools:
- Candles (even flameless ones if you prefer that!).
- Low wattage warm white bulbs for your lamps.
Now, turn off that harsh overhead lighting and take a look around. Where do you need more lighting in your space but would like it to be softer and cozier?
Switch out bulbs in your lamps in those areas, add your candles, and put your relaxing music on.
It really can be just that simple.
What Else Can You Do?
Maybe you like these ideas, but want to go a step further.
You can find simple mantras and prayers to repeat as you perform this nightly ritual of “cozying down” your home. There are loads of resources on the web where simple searches using terms like “mantras or prayers for inviting calming energy into my home” will return plenty of suggestions to choose from.
You might even want to cleanse your space of any heavy or low-vibrational energies to really amp up the good vibes. Need help on how to do that? You can read how I do that in my own home in this post: Sacred Smoke: Powerful Energy Clearing for Yourself and Your Space.
It really can be a simple process to invite peaceful, calming energy into our living spaces. Even the process itself of doing so I find to have a very meditative effect on me.
Finally, if you try my suggestions out, I’d love to hear how they work for you. Know what else I’d love to hear? All about the ways you already use to unwind and create a more relaxing atmosphere in your home. Leave me a comment below!