Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable it feels to be in a messy environment?
When you try to work, you might struggle to focus and when you’re having a break, you might find it difficult to relax. Your living space is more important than you think.
Let’s talk about changes you can introduce to make it a stress-free zone.
The link between living space and mental health
Contrary to what consumerism wants you to believe, owning many goods isn’t the key to happiness. This is especially true if your environment becomes cluttered in the process.
Findings from recent studies show that clutter is associated with increased cortisol, which means people who live in a mess are more likely to deal with stress and anxiety. On the other hand, incorporating minimalism into your routine can be beneficial to your mental health and even has the potential to ease depression.
Whether you realize how much influence your surroundings have on your mood or not, according to environmental psychology that explores the relationship between people and their environment, various elements of our living space shape us as a person – from the colour of the wallpaper to how much sunlight we get.
How to create stress-free space
Creating a stress-free home environment is a part of self-care. No matter what you use the space for, reducing stress and increasing relaxation can benefit your mental health.
Here are a few tips on where to start:
When you work from home either because your job is fully remote or because your company uses the hybrid workplace model, it’s difficult not to let the line between the two blur. This is why making sure that you create a stress-free space is so important.
1. Start your day off right
Being in a bad mood can make you more susceptible to stress so the key is to start your day off right. Making your bed isn’t only a great way to keep your environment tidy but can also give you a sense of achievement first thing in the morning.
2. Give yourself enough time to relax
The biggest downside to working from home is that it fosters the association between these environments and you might start perceiving your home as stressful even after you’ve finished tasks for the day.
So right after you get up, remember to do your best to enjoy your living space without thinking about work – listen to your favourite music or take some time to meditate and make it a part of your routine.
3. Organize your desk
Working from home often comes with additional distractions so there’s no reason to add a cluttered desk to the list. Make it as neat as possible by removing objects that aren’t essential to your job and putting your phone on silent, preferably out of reach to avoid distractions.
4. Make the best out of your breaks
Unfortunately, working remotely doesn’t mean that your job becomes easier or less fast-paced. In fact, it might be more challenging at times as there are no colleagues or supervisors around to ask for advice.
To avoid becoming too overwhelmed, it’s important to plan your breaks so that they can help you restore energy. For example, you could stretch your body or look out of the window and try to be present in the moment by focusing on what you can see and hear.
5. Make your workspace more intentional
While separating your personal and professional life might be challenging when you work from home, you can also use it to your advantage. Apart from decluttering your space, make sure that it inspires productivity and motivates your goals.
For example, you can put up a vision board filled with pictures that help you visualize your success. A simple reminder like that will keep you more motivated and prevent burnout.
Put up a vision board filled with pictures that help you visualize your success.
Studies show that maintaining a routine is good for health, which is perhaps the most important when it comes to our sleep.
Sometimes all it takes for a better night’s sleep is making changes in your environment and breaking bad habits.
1. Organize your space before you go to bed
Do you tend to lie in bed wide awake, thinking about all these things you have to do the next day?
Not cleaning your room means that you’ll have even more on your plate and it might get in the way of having a restful sleep. Try not to postpone things and consider setting aside a few minutes each day to organize your space.
2. Don’t work in bed
When you’re tired or feeling lazy, it might be tempting to linger in bed and do some work under the comfort of your duvet. Unfortunately, this kind of practice is the fastest way to develop sleep problems.
Instead, choose one dedicated workspace, whether it’s a different room or your desk.
3. Create a healthy sleep environment
If you already struggle to snooze as much as you’d like to, firstly make sure that your environment is dark and cold enough. Additionally, you can invest in earplugs to avoid having your sleep interrupted and try to go to bed at the same time each night to establish a healthier sleeping pattern.
3. Try essential oils
Aromatherapy is a type of treatment that consists of inhaling natural plant extracts in the form of essential oils. Studies that investigate the effects of lavender oil agree that it improves sleep quality and has calming properties.
So, if you want to wake up well-rested, consider purchasing an oil-diffuser and use it every day before bed.
For rest and hobbies
Have you ever wondered what percentage of your day is dedicated to relaxation that helps you replenish your energy, free from stress and distractions?
While engaging in activities such as scrolling on social media or cleaning the house can be seemingly relaxing, the former might evoke many negative emotions and the latter often comes with overthinking.
1. Choose a room dedicated to relaxing
One thing every living space should have is a safe haven where you can take a break from work and interaction with other people, and simply relish in solitude. If you share a house with friends or family, this might be tricky but even dedicating a part of your room to this purpose can be a great improvement.
For example, you could choose to sit by the window or by the bed. Once you make it a part of your routine, your mind will develop an association between that space and relaxation and it will be easier for you to unwind even when you’re dealing with stress.
2. Declutter your house
Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to lead a minimalistic lifestyle? It’s because we tend to get attached to objects and assign them a sentimental value.
Unfortunately, just because the clutter is made of things that remind you of dear people or places doesn’t mean it won’t negatively affect your mental health. Remember, a mess at home often equals a mess in your head.
If you find it difficult to part with objects that serve no purpose and feel like your space never looks neat enough, it’s time to consider space decluttering.
Start by going through your drawers one by one and sorting everything into one pile that definitely stays and a pile that must go. While you do this, ask yourself if you need the object or if you could let it go and remind yourself that your priority is to create a more peaceful living space.
And while it seems like a good idea to keep everything out of reach to make your room look minimalistic, try to make things easy to access or else the order will be impossible to maintain.
3. Consider buying house plants
One of the easiest ways to invite some more peace into your life is by filling your house with house plants. Surrounding yourself with nature can alleviate stress, improve your cognition, and even increase your job satisfaction.
Plus, adding a bit of green to your space can make it look more homely and cosy.
And eventually… declutter your mind
In an ideal world, we’d regularly be cleaning our space. In an even better world, we’d be putting things away to prevent a mess altogether.
However, not everyone can motivate themselves to do this every single time and sometimes a task that takes a few minutes might seem impossible for someone who struggles mentally.
If you feel like your mood is in the way of creating a stress-free space, it might be a sign that you’d benefit from professional support. With the help of an online therapist you can not only feel well enough to declutter your house but also declutter your mind and live a more fulfilling life.
Joanna Cakala is a multilingual writer based in the UK. Combining a degree in Psychology and passion for writing, she writes the articles on mental health across a broad variety of subjects such as self-development, personality disorders, PTSD, mindfulness, and autism.Read more