Stress is practically endemic to modern living. There are always tens of things that need doing around the home: dishes need to be washed, the AC filter needs to be changed, clothes need to be put away, the coffeemaker needs to be shut off. The list can go on and on, but you can make some positive changes in your living spaces that will help you cope better with the anxiety of navigating your busy, noisy life.
Decluttering is more than just the buzzword du jour. There’s ample evidence that clutter can amp up stress in our lives. When you can’t even make your way to the front door without tripping over a pile of bills, it’s going to cause anxiety. Meanwhile, clutter can also attract dust and germs, which can affect asthma and other respiratory conditions. If your home is overrun with excess bric-a-brac, start by clearing out just one space that can help you gain a foothold over your stuff. Make sure to throw away anything you don’t really need. Stop hanging onto things you might one day need.
Dim and dark interiors can really send a positive mood plummeting. Exposure to natural light isn’t just a nicety — it’s necessary to overall physical and mental health. For instance, an often quoted study that demonstrates just how vital sunlight is to our wellness is this one that looked at jail inmates. Just allowing prisoners access to a window with a view reduced their calls to the infirmary significantly. Take your cue from these scientific findings and let the light into your home by replacing heavy curtains and shades with lighter, sheer window treatments.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant or bar and suddenly felt like you had boundless energy? The color of the interiors may be the root cause — many proprietors use stimulating colors, such as red, for restaurant interiors to ramp up their patrons’ interactions. While everyone has their own personal relationship with color, the wrong hue in a space can really bring you down. In general, light blues and greens dial up the calm throughout a space — these are all colors readily found in nature, so they invoke the soothing experience of walking through the woods. Stay away from black and yellow interiors, however, as these colors may spur feelings of frustration, anger and depression.
Irritation thrives in spaces where you can’t even complete a simple task — if the pots and pans are always falling down, or you have to sort through a full pantry just to get dinner started, you’ll likely find yourself worn and grumpy before the food is even served. Draw pullouts, mounted hangers and sliding shelves can all bring ease to the kitchen area, while an overhead shelf running the length of your closet or around your bed helps take care of little-used objects in the bedroom.
No matter which method you choose to go with, a few mindful, intentional changes in your living spaces can hugely affect your overall mood and comfort level — and that’s definitely worth the time and effort!
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, Texas, where she writes full time for Modernize.com, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.