Have you ever walked inside your home and been hit with a wave of anxiety? The minute you close the door and take off your shoes, it’s as if 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 our home environment also influences our well-being.
As much as you strive to keep your house in tip-top shape, you might live in a place that causes your anxiety to go into hyperdrive without you even realizing it. We turned to clinical psychologist and author of the upcoming book, Joy From Fear, Dr. Carla Marie Manly and Havenly interior designer Brady Burke to find out exactly why and how your space impacts your mental health, without you even realizing. Below, find out how you can tackle these common anxiety triggers to make your home the sanctuary of your dreams.
The Temperature or Air Quality Isn’t Right
Believe it or not, the temperature and air quality in your home can trigger your anxiety. Remember the last time you had an awful night’s rest because you were too hot or too cold? Or when your house felt stuffy and you just didn’t feel right? These little nuances can make you feel uncomfortable and negatively impact your mood.
“If the home environment does not suit an individual’s personal needs, anxiety can certainly set in. For example, some people thrive in cooler home environments, whereas others need warmer temperatures to feel at ease,” says Dr. Manly. “Anxiety can surely be triggered if a home is too hot, too cold, or without adequate ventilation. In fact, many people get very anxious and can’t sleep well if a bedroom window is not open, and yet others get anxious if the windows are not closed.”
Your Home Decor Style Could Be Clashing
“Try to avoid clashing styles or colors when working to create a calming environment,” says Burke. “Focusing on one cohesive design style rather than blending multiple styles will keep a room feeling intentional and put-together. Neutral and earth tones with nothing too bold or bright can help facilitate a calm feeling.”
Essentially, you want to style your home to serve your mental health. A neon green bathroom that prevents you from taking a relaxing bath or bulky furniture that’s hard to navigate around can agitate you and make you upset. Take note of these little annoyances so you can eventually make your home feel as relaxing and peaceful as possible.
Your Home Is in Need of a Deep Clean
As one can probably imagine, coming home to a messy house can easily trigger anxiety. When things are out of order, it’s impossible to relax and stay calm after a long day when you know you need to do that round of laundry that’s been hiding in your closet.
“Clutter is a telltale sign that your home is working against you and not with you,” says Burke. “If your home is disorganized and disheveled, try rethinking your layout and work to give all your belongings a home. I find that a home without any artwork, decor, or styling shows that the homeowner does not like spending time there. A stark, impersonal home belies a content and happy person.”
You Work From Bed More Than You’d Like to Admit
According to Dr. Manly, if you work from home, you should ideally set up shop in a specific area where you’re normally already active. “If space allows, it is definitely a good idea to have a designated work area in one’s home,” says. Dr. Manly. “When work is confined to one space, work time and rest time can be more clearly delineated.”
However, if you don’t have the room to create a designated office area in your home, try to work from a coffee shop and whatever you do, refrain from working from bed. This can disrupt the only peaceful environment in your home. “It’s so important to not work from bed, as this ‘contaminates’ the sleep space with work energy,” she continues. “In order to allow the mind to ‘turn off’ and allow for restful sleep, it’s essential that work, cell phones, computers, etc., be kept as far away from the bedroom as possible.”
You Don’t Have Enough Natural Light
Natural light is important in a home not just for aesthetic reasons—vitamin D also helps reduce depression and anxiety.
“Natural light tends to be a mood-elevator and is known to generally improve one’s quality of life,” says Dr. Manly. “If your home doesn’t have sufficient natural light, a ‘lightbox’ that mimics natural sunshine can be extremely beneficial. As well, the ambiance of homes without natural light can be improved through the use of light colors, simple furnishings, and occasional pops of bright, uplifting colors.”
Your Home Doesn’t Reflect Who You Are as a Person
At the end of the day, our homes are what we make them out to be. If we don’t see ourselves within our homes, it can make us unhappy every time we walk through the door.
“A space that reflects the person who is in it will make them feel more comfortable and at ease. Being in a space that exhibits colors, textures, and furnishings that you relate to and enjoy will undoubtedly make [you] feel safe and calm,” says Burke. “A space that feels foreign, impersonal, or unorganized will have the same effect on a person. If you are in a space that you dislike or do not relate to, it can make you feel disconnected. A personal space has the ability to make someone feel grounded, comfortable, safe, and happy.”
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