We all experience stressors in our lives and this is unavoidable. Family life, work, relationships, finances, can all be stressful, along with other aspects of living in the modern world. Most people can deal with stress without too many negative consequences. However, too much stress (i.e. being unable to cope with stress) can have negative consequences for physical and/or mental health, such as:
- Depression, particularly in people who have experienced depression before.
- Lack of energy and difficulties concentrating.
- Stomach issues (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and lack of appetite.
- Increased risk of high cholesterol and heart attack.
Stress can disrupt our healthy coping strategies. It is important to deal with stress for both physical and mental health. Having a stress-free home environment and consistent routines is a great way to promote everyday stress-free living and helps children to learn to be resilient also.
It is not possible to completely eliminate stress from your life, but if you have a stressful job, or find that you are getting stressed a lot, read on for some simple things you can do to make sure your home is a haven where you can retreat and relax and therefore reduce stress.
- Create a Relaxation Zone
It can be challenging to find a space to rest and unwind, especially if you have a family. It is important to have a space to “just be you”. You can create a space using a room, a corner, or even just a chair, in your home to be your personal relaxation space. Add a throw, blanket, a candle, and other personal touches. Make sure the rest of your family know not to bother you when you are in your space and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and a good book.
- Clear the Clutter
Being surrounded by piles of clutter can be stressful. You might be amazed how light and free you’ll feel after you clear out the stuff that’s weighing you down. Be ruthless and get rid of anything you don’t use or don’t like. Take a little bit of time each week or each month to declutter a cupboard or shelf.
- Make the Most of Natural Lighting
Getting enough sunlight is an important and often overlooked factor in mental health. In fact, lack of light in the winter months can even cause a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is mainly in the Northern hemisphere – in most parts of Australia, we get enough light all year round so that this isn’t a problem. But make sure your home is as light and bright as possible – open curtains, blinds, and consider using light bulbs that emulate daylight. If natural light is a problem, try to get outside for 20-30 minutes each day.
- Add some Greenery
Spending time in nature can have a hugely positive effect on your mood so it is important to get out of the house when you can. However, consider bringing the outdoors in with some pot plants and/or artwork or photography of landscapes.
- Unplug From Time to Time
In the modern world, most people have an abundance of technology in and around the home – televisions, computers, mobile phones and other gadgets. While technology can help you to relax at times, it can also cause stress – especially if you feel compelled to keep checking social media or emails. If you recognise that this is true for you, you might need to unplug from time to time. Eat dinner at the table without the TV on, pick an hour every day with no technology, and turn off your electronic devices at night.
- Choose Calming Colours
Colour can definitely affect mood and relaxation. For example, red and yellow can actually raise your blood pressure. To promote a calming atmosphere, opt for light shades of blue and green (that emulate the soft tones in nature) as these will help to improve relaxation.
- Use an Oil Diffuser
Essential oils not only make your home smell beautiful, but they can also help you to feel more relaxed. Lavender, frankincense, roman chamomile, and sandalwood all help to ease anxiety and can help you sleep. If you are feeling down and low on energy, use citrus and peppermint oils to energise you again.
- Create a ‘Landing Station’
If you are you always running around at the last minute looking for your keys, put a small table or stool in your hallway with a bowl to put your keys in when you come into your home. Other items to put in this area could be a notepad/pen, a basket for mail and sunglasses, small change, and an umbrella. This can help to streamline your mornings and be more organised, therefore reducing stress.
- Make Your Bed Every Morning and Clean Your Kitchen Every Evening
Getting the day off to the right start can make a big difference to your overall mood and stress levels. Start with an easy task that you can achieve no matter what – making your bed. In the same way that clearing clutter helps to clear your mind, a freshly made bed will help you to feel calm and prepared for the day. Similarly, nobody likes getting up to a dirty kitchen first thing so try to do the dishes and wipe down surfaces before you head off to bed.
- Invest in an Aquarium
A study carried out at a US aquarium found that people’s heart rate and blood pressure dropped when in the aquarium and dropped more as more fish were added to the tanks. You might consider putting in an aquarium in your home – watching fish swim around is highly relaxing and meditative (even one fish in a bowl can be mesmerising!).