Have you ever walked inside your home at the end of the day—and been hit with a wave of anxiety? 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.
And as much as you may strive to keep your house in tip-top shape, you might live in a place that causes your worries to go into hyperdrive without you even realizing it. We turned to clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., and Havenly interior designer Brady Burke to find out exactly how your space can impact your mental health. Below, find out how you can tackle these common triggers to make your home the sanctuary of your dreams.
Your thermostat is off
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? These little nuances can make you uncomfortable and negatively impact your mood, according to Manly. “Anxiety can surely be triggered if a home is too hot, too cold, or without adequate ventilation,” she says. “In fact, many people can’t sleep well if a bedroom window is not open, and yet others get anxious if the windows are not closed.” Figure out what works for you, and stick to it.
Clutter is taking over
When things are out of order, it’s impossible to relax after a long day—especially when you know you need to do that ever-growing batch of laundry that’s been tucked in the corner. “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 give all your belongings a home.” That doesn’t mean that you have to go full minimalist: Burke adds that personal touches like artwork and decor go a long way to making a tidy home even more comfortable.
Your work life and personal life are blurred together
According to Manly, if you do business from home, you should set up shop in a specific area where you’re normally already active. “When work is confined to one space, work time and rest time can be more clearly delineated,” she says.
If you don’t have the room to create a designated office area in your home, whatever you do, refrain from bringing you laptop to bed. This can disrupt the only peaceful environment in your home. “In order to allow the mind to ‘turn off’ and allow for restful sleep, it’s essential that phones and computers be kept as far away from the bedroom as possible,” Manly adds.
Natural light is limited
Sunshine is important in a home for way more than just aesthetic reasons—the vitamin D it supplies you with also helps reduce depression and anxiety. “Natural light is a mood elevator and improves one’s quality of life,” says Manly. If your apartment errs on the dark side, consider adding lamps so you don’t have to rely on unflattering overheads.
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