Research has shown that we are more stressed at home than at work. Why is that? Some say this is in part because the tasks and compensation at home are not as clear as they are at work. I would add that, at home, we can often be faced with challenges that we do not have the experience, education or time to address. For example, plumbing and electrical issues. This increases stress too.
Ever been assigned a task at work that was completely outside your job description and experience? Or perhaps work that you had no time to accomplish? How did that make you feel? Not good. At work it’s possible to get support, or get someone more qualified to take over. At home, not so much. Instead, we have to live with the issue until we are able to resolve it, or pay someone to resolve it for us. Sometimes, these issues linger for years, creating constant anxiety at home until we can find or afford the right help. The result: the home becomes a chronic source of negative stress.
Here are three big culprits of this ongoing stress:
- the condition of the house
- the upkeep of the house
- the design of the house
The condition: repairs and remodeling
If your house is in need of repair there is a problem to solve and a task to complete. What is the problem? How do I fix it? Am I able to fix it? If not, who is able to fix it? How much will it cost? Can I afford it?
What if you don’t have time for the task or the money for the repair? The issue lingers. The stress mounts and starts to impact other areas of your life — you snap at your children, you bicker with your partner and you become more tired because your house is not a restful space. Sound familiar?
The upkeep: cleaning, organizing and maintenance
Ever feel the pressure of house maintenance? Cleaning — dishes, floors, laundry? Purging and reorganizing? Performing basic household tasks like replacing light bulbs? The issue here is time. Although living in a smaller, space-efficient home is very helpful, we find it’s still a struggle to keep up with the day-to-day tasks. Some of our closets need a purge and there are light bulbs that should have been replaced weeks ago — we just haven’t found the time. While these stressors are not as significant as repairs and remodeling, they are unrelenting.
The design and how it makes you feel
With the exception of those who work in design and architecture, I feel most people are less conscious of design and its real impact. Beyond the decor, design includes function and flow like the location of doors and windows, and how space is divided or shared. This can greatly affect how you feel in your space. If you are unable to bring your mind to a restful place while you are home because of design features which impact what you see, hear, smell, touch or feel, you won’t be able to unwind and recharge. For example, clutter raises stress levels in women. Disruptive television noise can also cause stress and prevent relaxation. A house designed with abundant storage and spaces for calm like away rooms combat these stressors. Other design issues that negatively impact how you feel in your house include the absence of natural light and connection with the outdoors, and the absence of a clear separation between work and leisure.
Take back your sanctuary
If you’re experiencing chronic negative stress in your house, the space where you are supposed to refresh and rest, this is not good. It can have far reaching health implications— particularly when coupled with other sources of stress like demanding professional careers. You need to make some changes. Depending on the source of the stress this could mean a few small changes or a very large project. If you are contemplating a major renovation or rebuild please contact me. I can help make the process less stressful.