For many, home is where we eat, sleep, work, play, and create. When considering how to take better care of ourselves, it only makes sense to pay attention to the place we spend so much of our time. Your home should be a safe haven from the burdens of the outside world.
However, sometimes the way we interact with our home can create its own variety of stress. If you're wondering how to de-stress your home, here are a few strategies for rethinking and designing your spaces to make your home life more enjoyable and relaxing.
Introduce Natural Elements
Spending time outdoors can lower your blood pressure and relieve stress. However, you don’t have to venture into the wilderness to enjoy these restorative effects.
Investing in a few indoor plants can add a natural feeling to any space. Many plant varieties, such as aloe, succulents, and spider plants, require very little care to remain healthy and vibrant. Since most houseplants are easily moved, you can also find creative ways to arrange them throughout your home.
It’s also important not to neglect the outside of your home. If you have a lawn, even a small space can benefit from landscaping. Rather than watching your lawn slowly devolve into a jungle, keeping the grass trimmed and clear of debris is a great way to start.
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, gardening can be a fulfilling way to focus your mind and body on a physical task. Growing flowers or vegetables could offer a flare of color and functionality to an otherwise plain area of your home.
You might also try adding a water feature in order to create an attractive focal point as well as a soothing soundscape.
Let in the Light
One of the most important things to consider when de-stressing your home is the amount and quality of light available. A dark room can seem small and confined. Increasing the amount of natural light in your home provides a number of benefits, such as allowing you to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D, increasing productivity, and giving rooms a more spacious appearance.
One way to ensure that you’re getting as much natural light as possible is to choose curtains with a sheer fabric. This provides a compromise between the need for privacy and access to light.
Though adding a skylight or new windows can increase the amount of natural light that reaches the darkest corners of your home, this isn’t always an option. Affordable alternatives include introducing objects with more reflective surfaces into your home, such as shiny tiles, acrylic chairs, and metallic photo frames. Placing a mirror on the wall opposite a window can greatly increase the amount of natural light in a room.
Aside from natural light, the color temperature of the light bulbs in your home can also have a drastic effect on the mood of particular spaces. Choosing bulbs with a cool white color can have an energizing effect and might work well for a home office, while warmer colors can create a calm vibe better suited to a living room or bedroom.
Along with adjusting the amount of light in your home, it can be refreshing to experiment with a new aesthetic altogether. This could include a fresh coat of paint for the walls, rearranging furniture, or hanging art and photography that makes you happy.
If you decide to paint restful spaces like your bedroom or a study, consider choosing dark blues, light grays, or soft shades of pink, green, or lavender as these have calming effects.
When assessing the overall color scheme of any room, you could follow the 60-30-10 rule. This suggests that to maintain a pleasant color balance 60 percent of the room should be a dominant color, 30 percent should be a secondary color, and 10 percent should be an accent color.
However, this “rule” isn’t for everyone. Your home is about you, so if you’re happiest surrounded by a variety of colors, go for it.
Of course the quality of the air in your home can affect your stress levels. No one wants to come home to a smelly house. One easy strategy for this is to open windows when possible to clear out stale air.
You can also choose garbage bins with lids or store them beneath a counter to limit the range of any unwanted smells. Above all, you’ll set yourself up for success by keeping your most at-risk areas clean, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and any area your pets use the most.
Keeping a regular cleaning schedule will give you the best chance at avoiding an instant stressor that could spread to every room in your house.
You can go a step further by introducing a variety of soothing aromatics, such as vanilla and lavender, that fill your home with a natural, pleasant scent as well as help to relieve stress.
Essential oil diffusers can run continuously or be set to a timer in order to release the desired level of fragrance. For a low-tech option, you can also mix a few drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle to give a quick spritz to the air, fabrics, or furniture.
Over time, it can be easy to accumulate so many things that your storage spaces seem doomed. Often our homes are filled with things we don’t even use. In these cases a sudden or gradual purge can be an effective way clear out the clutter and bring hope back to your closets, drawers, and pantries. Prepare a few boxes or bags and start sorting things you can donate or sell, and soon you’ll be able to start over with a clean slate.
For clothes, a good rule of thumb is to get rid of anything you haven’t worn in six months to a year. If you aren’t sure how long it’s been, you can reverse the all the hangers in your closet. If any hangers are still backwards in a few months, that’s a pretty good indicator it’s time to part with those clothes.
Your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator can also become a point of stress. When your shelves are full of old or unhealthy foods, it’s time to clear them out. While this will renew the space, you can also use this as a chance to stock up on healthy, stress-relieving foods like fruits, berries, and yogurt.
It’s not only spaces out of sight that need attention. Shelves, tables, and countertops can get cluttered with old papers, magazines, and unused appliances. The entryway to your home is another prime suspect for clutter, as shoes, coats, umbrellas and other items used in your day-to-day become strewn and overwhelm you from the moment you walk in the door.
Designate Your Spaces
Once you’ve cleared out the clutter in your house, redecorated, or tried any of the strategies above, the only thing left to do is actually enjoy living in your home. It can be helpful to find specific areas dedicated to relaxation or some hobby you enjoy. In the same way, it’s good to dedicate certain spaces to getting work done.
Consider which rooms you spend the most time in and why. Maybe without thinking about it you’ve already designated spaces for particular activities like reading, catching up on social media, or planning your schedule. By being intentional about the way you use different spaces, your mind will be better prepared to adjust to each situation.
For example, if you come home from a stressful day at work, having a safe space to sit and relax quietly for a few minutes can be a great relief. However, it’s important to avoid mixing in activities that might stress you out.
You wouldn’t want to sort bills or plan your day in the same place you’ve chosen to hit your mental reset button. And though it’s tempting to try and unwind by scrolling through the internet and social media, this can distract you and add to your stress. Strive to be strong and keep your phone out of sight in your most peaceful moments.
However you choose to keep your home, know there’s no right way to do it. You might consider your home to be a reflection of who you are, or you might consider it to be a remedy to the more stressful parts of your life. Either way, it should be a place where you enjoy spending time. Hopefully something here will inspire you and help to de-stress your home today.
About the author:
Jesse Johnson holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction. He writes about mindfulness and the convergence of home and the natural world. When he’s not writing, he’s likely playing music or hiking deep in the woods.