If you head for the movies, book a massage or hit the gym when your stress is at an all-time high, it’s time to re-think that strategy. “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort,” wrote Jane Austen in “Emma.” Today, scientific research shows Jane was way ahead of her time. Our homes play a major role in our health and happiness. That’s why they should be designed to reduce stress and anxiety.
Given our high-powered, hard-working clientele, this is one of our major goals as interior designers. Plus, a home that reduces stress is the ultimate luxury. Here are five design strategies we use that are not only proven to reduce stress and improve mood, but also make homes more attractive and functional.
1. Invoke flower power: flower power is more than jargon; fresh house plants and flowers (or better yet flowering house plants) make us happier and more productive—especially when those long, cold Chicago winters hit. Classic studies from Harvard Medical School, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University and the National Center for Biotechnology Information found people who have house plants and fresh cut flowers in their home feel happier, less stressed and more relaxed. We call that a research trifecta, and think this strategy is so effective we devoted a whole blog (one of our most popular!) to using flowers and houseplants in your home.
2. Paint the bedroom (or wherever you chill) blue: Even if you crave bright and eye-catching colors, those hues could ramp up your anxiety at home. Color affects everything from your mood and activity level to how well you sleep, so the bedroom is a space where a tranquil hue not only makes a statement but also has a powerful effect on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. A study byTravelodge shows that a soothing shade of blue reduces blood pressure, makes you feel sleepy and less stressed and leads to the best night's sleep, while purple, brown and grey do the opposite.
3. Minimize Clutter: Too much of anything—from books, papers, knick-knacks and art to clothing, shoes and accessories—creates clutter. And clutter not only bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, it does all sorts of bad things to our minds, notes Psychology Today. In turn, this can cause anxiety, which leads increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol—which can do all sorts of bad things to our bodies, notes WebMD. The solution: keep most of your things out of sight and only display the important stuff. Leave breathing room between furniture, art and objects. And invest in good storage options, from sleek, cabinets that can hide a myriad of “sins” to efficient closet systems. You don't have to be a minimalist, but you do need to be disciplined and have adequate storage, or learn to let go of things.
4. Keep Tech In Check: Do you keep your television or radio on as background noise? And how loud is the music your kids may play, or even the neighbors? Excess noise can lead to a range of health issues, from stress-related migraines, ulcers and decreased sleep to high blood pressure and heart disease, notes Psychology Today. And the blue light in all electronics and energy-efficient light bulbs has a dark side, notes Harvard Medical School: it throws off our biological clocks, which leads to poor sleep and more stress, not to mention it may contribute to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity (oh my!). None of this is good for reducing stress, and the solution is simple—hide your tech! We’ve come up with all sorts of ways to do this, from hiding TVs behind paintings and custom millwork to storage systems that conceal whole home offices—and all their attendant tech.
5. Let the Sun Shine In: Sunlight increases the brain’s release of the serotonin, a hormone that boosts mood, clams us, helps us focus and makes us feel happy, notes Healthline. In fact, low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of major depression, and reduced sunlight is linked to anxiety-related disorders and panic attacks. Using sunlight to de-stress has the simplest solution of all: raise your shades, open your drapes and let the sun shine in whenever possible. That’s why we often opt for translucent window treatments and rely on recessed, motorized block-out shades to block out light at night. (Images: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)
30 Jul 2018