Over the past year or so we all have been spending more time than ever before in our homes. As a result, many of us are finding that our homes are raising our anxiety levels. Pocket (an internet site which aggregates interesting web articles) describes it this way: “It’s as if the minute you close the door and take off your shoes, an accumulation of nerves begins to bubble within your chest and explode like a hot kettle on a stove. Sure, this could be the result of working long hours or not getting enough sleep, but there’s no doubt that our home environments also influence our well-being.”
But you can tamp down this nervous tension by identifying and then eliminating your home’s stress triggers. Here are few to consider.
Too much clutter. This may be the #1 home stress trigger. HGTV.com defines clutter as “a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.” When we are surrounded by clutter our senses are overstimulated and we start to feel defeated. There is something to your mother’s advice of “a place for everything and everything in its place” and “out of sight, out of mind.” Investing a little money in storage bins, shelf units, and the like and investing a little time in developing organization systems will go a long way to reduce overstimulation. (And if you can’t quite tame the clutter monster by organizing, maybe you have too much stuff and you need to “thin the herd”.)
Too much furniture. In the same ballpark as too much clutter, a room with too much furniture can feel crowded and stressful. If your home feels overstuffed, put it on a diet by removing some furniture from your home. A more spacious feel for your room will result in a less stressful feel for you.
Too many colors. Too many patterns. If your home is not quite the sanctuary it once was, you may need to grab a paint brush. Simplehomesimplelife.com suggests that “visually calming your home will help you calm yourself down too.” Light neutral colors create peaceful surroundings that are easy on your brain.
Too tethered to your electronic devices. House Beautiful magazine advises that if your cell phone “is the first thing you reach for when you wake up, and the last thing you look at before bed…it needs to go. Keep your bedroom free of electronics…they affect your anxiety levels.”
Too hot. Too cold. If you wake up anxious, it may be that you are not sleeping well because your bedroom is too hot or too cold or maybe it just feels stuffy. Too hot or too cold temperatures and inadequate ventilation can definitely trigger stress.
Do you turn up or turn down the thermostat when your partner isn’t looking? It is common to have differences of opinions on where to set your thermostat, but you need to find a way to compromise or work around the problem. Some solutions to consider include investing in a dual control electric blanket, using separate bed linens so one of you can have extra blankets, and, of course, wearing the appropriate clothing around the house. (Socks and flannel PJs may not be a stylish fashion statement but they will keep you warm.)
Too much work life in your home life. The COVID pandemic forced us to work at home and this has blurred the lines between the two and piled on more stress. Mental health experts say if you are going to make your home address your business address you need to set up shop in a specific area, ideally in a separate room where you close the door at the end of the work day. If a separate area isn’t feasible, then try to find a way to bundle up or box up your work and stow it out of sight.
Too dark. You probably know vitamin D is important for strong bones, but do you know that it also helps reduce anxiety and depression, too? The best source of vitamin D is sunshine. Clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear, Carla Marie Manly points out that “[n]atural light is a mood elevator and improves one’s quality of life.” If your home is too dark, open up the drapes and shades. And if that is not possible consider adding some lamps to your interior furnishing plan.