From schemes to screens, here are 7 simple steps to styling a stress-free sanctuary.
According to a recent report, more than one-third of Canadians have experienced anxiety. In other words, for every local hundred influencers, friends and famous folk you follow on Insta, some 37 of them are anxiety sufferers. Worrying, no?
Presenting both unseen and physical symptoms such as overthinking and catastrophizing, palpitations, IBS and an inability to relax, anxiety is said to be triggered by change. “Triggers might include separating from a partner or being made redundant, a traumatic event like the death of a loved one, or a stressful patch at work,” says Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist, coach and author of The Anxiety Solution. “Smaller triggers might include making a mistake at work, having to give a presentation or moving house.”
Whilst it’s impossible to pinpoint a single cause of a sufferer’s anxiety, it’s thought that family history and environmental factors – such as prolonged exposure to stress – could have some influence.
Far be it from our abilities to alter our genetics (unless you have something you want to tell us, Superwoman?), there is a little something we can do to lower our likelihood of suffering – or help to ease symptoms of – anxiety. And the good news? It’s what we do best: Nest!
That’s right. Whilst overhauling your home is unlikely to rid you of anxiety entirely (and you should still seek support from loved ones and professionals), it could assist in relieving stress, and Brotheridge agrees. “Having a comfortable and calm home is incredibly important for those with anxiety,” she says.
Here, we share the simple steps needed to turn your home into a haven.
1. Channel Mother Nature
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Whilst jazzy wallpaper and elaborate artwork might win you points for your styling skills, they aren’t quite evocative of the serene surroundings that could prove beneficial if you suffer from anxiety. Rather, calming colours – such as those seen in nature – could help to calm you, so consider shades of green, blue, tan and light grey when updating a room scheme.
2. Score a sound sleep
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A study conducted earlier this year revealed that those who sleep for less than 8 hours a night are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Therefore, ensuring quality sleep is key. A bedtime routine will be of benefit, but so will sprucing up your boudoir. “Making sure your bedroom is cool and dark is important for good sleep,” says Brotheridge, so aim to maintain a temperature of around 18°C and invest in blackout curtains to keep light from streaming in and interrupting your slumber. “Using an alarm clock instead of your phone can mean you’re less likely to look at emails and social media first thing in the morning,” she adds, whilst a comfortable, supportive mattress and bedding made from natural fibres (to regulate your body temperature) will help to further enhance your sleep.
3. Switch on your senses
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Try to settle your thoughts by engaging your senses. “A soft throw on the sofa, a diffuser filled with calming lavender essential oil and a burning candle can all help you relax,” says Brotheridge. You could also try sporting fluffy socks and sipping hot tea, or playing soothing sounds to drown out disturbances from appliances and otherwise. “Noise can be an issue,” says Brotheridge. “if it’s unwanted it can feel like an assault on our senses and it could increase our levels of stress.”
4. Go green
Photography: Alex Lukey | Story: Art, Greenery and Boho Accents Give This Home an Inviting Vibe
Judging by the many foliage-filled homes we’ve seen of late, we’re willing to bet that we don’t need to sell you on the idea of introducing greenery into your home. But in case you haven’t yet heard the health benefits house plants, many have the ability to reduce levels of carbon dioxide and toxins in the air, and some can even assist with getting you to sleep. Rosemary, lavender and jasmine are said to be your best bet when it comes to creating a calming ambiance as, impressively, they have the potential to lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, and relieve stress. See you at the garden centre.
5. Get organized
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“Clutter – such as piled-up bills and clothes to be ironed – can make you feel overwhelmed and out of control,” says Brotheridge. “If it’s within eyeline it could act as a constant reminder of all you have to do, and may mean you can’t switch off. Many people feel that a tidy home promotes a tidy mind, and I agree!” The answer? Invest in storage – and plenty of it. Think additional cupboards and drawers for concealing out-of-season clothing, and duel-purpose furnishings – such as cavity coffee tables – to stash knick-knacks. And as for the pile of bills? Keep them filed away out of sight.
6. Think before you fill your fridge
What you consume has a whole lot to do with how you feel, so be sure to fill your fridge, cupboards and secret snack stash with foods and beverages that’ll help to boost your mood. Fruits and vegetables should be your first port of call for their many nutritional benefits, along with the likes of camomile tea for its calming properties. Highly processed foods should be kept to a minimum as artificial ingredients can wreak havoc with your insides, and – don’t shoot the messenger – caffeine has also been linked with anxiety, so consider capping your coffee intake.
7. Redefine fun
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You don’t need us to tell you that watching TV and scrolling the length of your Instagram feed is going to do little in the way of enhancing your wellbeing. Aside from the constant involuntary comparisons we make upon viewing others’ showreels on social media and the blood-riddled thrillers we can’t help but binge-watch (The Walking Dead, anyone?), the blue light emitted from such devices only serves to confuse our circadian rhythms (which is what helps send us to sleep at night and arise in the morning. Are you sensing a pattern here?). Instead of whiling away hours in front of a screen, why not set up your very own chill zone for unwinding in? Perhaps it’s a reading nook with a swing chair and a stack of books from the bestseller list, floor space to exercise or roll out your yoga mat (don’t underestimate the mood-boosting power of endorphins!), or maybe it’s as simple as a spot on the sofa to update your journal. Whatever it is that helps you to feel at peace, do it.