By Cris Carl, Networx
If you're experiencing stress and tension in your life, especially when you are at home, your house itself could be the problem.
Elizabeth Bienz, a clinical social worker in Greenfield, Mass., shares some of her insights. "Clutter and is often the number one cause of stress in a home. It's a constant reminder of things that need to be taken care of," she said.
Bienz added that the level of cleanliness can certainly be a stress factor. "It's one thing to have a little clutter and mess. That's just living. But if you have dog hair billowing in the corners or you have to create pathways through the living room to walk, that just adds to stress in the home," she said.
Bienz said that when she has visited people whose homes have dark, heavy drapes, a strong smell of cigarette smoke and excessive clutter, she "found those homes to be very oppressive."
Stress over structural problems
One structural problem that Bienz experienced personally involved having a very wet basement. Bienz, who is also recently purchased a new home, said that she was amazed at the level of stress she experienced in her previous home. "A lot of my belongings that were stored in the basement got moldy. I was surprised how relieved I was when we moved. I didn't realize at the time how much it (the wet basement) stressed me out," said Bienz.
Bienz said that another aspect of stress relating to a house's structure might have to do with large or expensive projects such as putting on a new roof. "It can be a challenge to prioritize, especially when you realize you may have to look as far ahead as five years. This can be the cause of a lot of stress and worry," said Bienz. "If you are dealing with the aspect of keeping the elements from coming in your house, the sheer priority of needing to deal with that is stressful," she added.
A personal and soothing décor
Bienz, who is also recently married, said that she and her husband have different interests. Bienz recommends having spaces in the home that reflect and accommodate personal interests. "I'm a reader and he's a drummer, so we have places for each of us to have our books or drums," she said. Bienz said it also reduces stress to have items that are important to you easily accessible.
Bienz added that she and her husband discussed ahead of time how they would blend their belongings before they moved in together. They selected colors they both found soothing to repaint the rooms after they moved in. The couple decided on various earth tones such as charcoal grey and cream colors. "These are the colors that are relaxing to us. It's great to come home and feel like the space is really yours," she said.
Bienz said that even if you have a very small home, it can be very stressful if family members have no access to privacy. For some, who have larger homes, this may mean rooms that are dedicated to certain uses such as exercise, music, "man-caves," etc. If your family is large and the house is small, Bienz suggests setting up a space in the home somewhere that can afford privacy, even if family members have to take turns. "If possible, it really helps to reduce stress in a house if each person has a place they feel is theirs, especially if they can personalize the décor," said Bienz. "Even if it's just a bureau or chair that's yours, it helps people to have a sense of security," she said.
Lastly, Bienz said that stress in a house can relate to how much open space there is. Some people need lots of open space to feel comfortable, but some feel safer/less stressed in a cozier atmosphere surrounded by items that bring comfort.