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Finding Home Beyond The House

Story by Danielle Reynolds




I have lived in many houses in many countries, so trust me when I say, moving is hard. But through the packing tape, bubble wrap, and boxes, you will eventually reach that “ahh home” feeling. When you’ve reached that moment, coming home becomes more than just being in a physical location with tangible things; it becomes about connecting to a place of comfort where the mind rests and restoration begins.

For me, home in Alexandria is where my family and the pieces of my adult life started to come together. In the few short years of “being a local,” I feel a sense of belonging, love, and protection. There is no shortage of opportunities for social gatherings and outdoor activities. This city is deep in culture and tradition, from picturesque neighborhoods and colonial heritage to stunning waterfront charm, Alexandria is idyllic. The sense of home, however, is deeper than where I live; it’s a state of mind where I feel most at peace and without judgement.

A sense of home cannot be curated or purchased in a single day. It takes time. In all my moves, I took small steps to recognize what I needed for myself, crafting an authentic image for what home really is.



HOME IS A CONNECTION. We have powerful connections to the places we feel at ease. As a Mental Health Clinician with Del Ray Psych and Wellness, my work is rooted in research and evidence-based practice. The science of Mental Health is beginning to gain a deeper understanding of the visceral and intangible feelings being at home produces. Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI, technology, researchers found key areas of emotional processing in the brain that are activated by “places that induce a sense of connection and belonging.” These findings shed light on the magnetic pull our homes have on our emotional regulatory system. Some examples of ways to connect to home may be:

Display pictures that evoke positive emotions.

Cultivate a soothing environment.

Practice daily moments of gratitude and mindfulness.

Sit down for meals, when possible, with those you love.

Home is routines and rituals

HOME IS ROUTINES + RITUALS. Think about all the routines and rituals that happen daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Routines and rituals offer the opportunity to repeat experiences and gain familiarity. The routines and rituals are important because they not only offer predictable experiences but help create history and repetition. Examples of rituals and routines may be:

Annual celebrations

Special projects and exploration

Community festivals

Predictable schedules.

Special visitors

Annual family gathering

Home is growing and belonging

HOME IS GROWING + BELONGING. A sense of belonging doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and effort to grow. Growing creates not only a positive sense of belonging but also helps foster the circle of nurturing. That is, being in a community with people who uplift you and in whose presence you feel your best. A sense of belonging can grow in many ways:

Get to know your neighbors.

Try the baking trick. It’s a delicious means of conventional friendship (no one would turn down warm cookies).

Take part in your environment and culture. Reflect on what’s important to you. Maybe it’s a local Co-op or yoga, maybe it’s a book club. Have fun!

Go outside and wonder. It doesn’t matter what you do, be it walk, run, or meander. Just explore your neighborhood and meet new people.

Check-in with your own attitude. Be open to new opportunities and adventures.

Try the local café culture. No city is complete without a coffee shop. It’s the perfect place to establish a routine, meet the locals, and make new friends.

My home is beyond the four walls of my house. My home is not perfect, and not always ready for hosting a dinner party (far from it). Yet, somehow, it is where everything feels fine and beautiful, and where laughter fills the air. MEET DANIELLE REYNOLDS Danielle Reynolds, MSW is a Supervisee in Social Work at Del Ray Psych & Wellness, LLC. Her focus is helping individuals and couples achieve an optimal state of being. Danielle uses a holistic treatment approach while simultaneously integrating an awareness of neuroscience and positive psychology. Her training is robust in Health and Wellness, which helps the client to achieve that which the mind believes. Danielle honors the importance of blending evidence based modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction into each treatment session. Learn more at www.delraypsych.com

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