Anxiety is a condition that affects a huge portion of Australians in many different forms, and each person living with anxiety experiences it in different ways. While there are many psychological and physical treatments for the condition that a healthcare professional can prescribe to you, there are some small changes you can make to your home that will transform your house into a safe haven.
We spoke to psychologist Nancy Sokarno from Lysn about the various changes a person can make to their home to minimise feelings of anxiety. Some of these are very practical and can be changed in an instant, allowing for a healthier, more happier home.
DISCOVER THE POWER OF CLEANLINESS
Nancy says that one of the most often overlooked things in your home that can dramatically affect anxiety levels is cleanliness.
“You may not be aware of it, but cleanliness can affect both a person’s mental and physical health,” says Nancy. “A small thing like a disorganised drawer or cupboard space can increase a person’s stress levels and this often happens on a subconscious level. Being clean and organised is essential for good mental health practices. If you’ve been feeling the effects of anxiety, spend a day looking at your house and the places that could do with a tidy (yes, including those bottom drawers that only get opened to shove more stuff in!)”
ENLIST YOUR GREEN THUMB WITH HOUSEPLANTS
Many studies have discovered that indoor plants can have a profound effect on our mental state, and Nancy recommends filling your home with them.
“Studies have shown that people are happier and less stressed when they are around nature, so fill your spaces with houseplants,” says Nancy. “On a physical level, plants can improve air quality by removing the carbon dioxide and any other toxins from the air and replacing it with oxygen. However, on a psychological level, increases in oxygen levels actually decrease a person’s anxiety levels. Lavender is a great choice to bring into the home, for it’s easy maintenance and aromatherapy benefits, too.”
SCENTS FOR EMOTIONAL WELLBEING
Particular smells can stay in our memories for years, and immediately transport us back to an almost-forgotten time and place, but certain smells can also reduce stress levels.
“The power of scent is often undervalued; it can have a dramatic impact on a person’s physiological and psychological wellbeing,” says Nancy, who recommends spending some time researching different scents and what they meant to you to achieve the desired effect.
“For example, scents like Bergamot, which is a citrus fruit that is said to uplift moods, promote peace and overall balance, while counterbalancing negative emotions like anger and frustration. Rosewood oil helps to calm the mind and allow people to relax and let go of stress and mental clutter. Certain scents can help support confidence, improve focus, allow you to de-stress and just generally improve overall wellbeing.”
USE YOUR COLOURS WISELY
Colour psychology is a very real thing, and decorating your interiors with the wrong hues for you can have disastrous results.
“Certain colours can evoke different emotions, so try to choose the colours for your rooms wisely,” says Nancy. “For example, red is the colour of energy and also the colour found on warning signs, so you can imagine what type of effect this might have on you. Red is likely to bring your anxiety levels up, even if you don’t at first attribute these feelings to the décor of room you’re in. Instead, choose calming colours like pale blue which can make you feel relaxed, peaceful and less stressed.”
UPDATE YOUR BEDROOM
Sleep is integral to maintain good overall physical health, as well as mental health, so ensuring your room is set up to encourage sleep is a must.
“Our mental wellbeing is dramatically affected when we don’t get enough sleep,” says Nancy. “Ensure that your bedroom is an optimal place for you to sleep, looking at elements of Feng Shui to design the room entirely. For example, ensure that you place your bed on the opposite side of the room as your door, but not directly opposite. The space will create a relaxing and comfortable flow. Also look at things like your bedding and how that may be affecting your sleep, and any clutter or unclean areas.”
For more information on anxiety, talk to a GP or health professional or contact:
SANE Australia Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)
beyondblue support service line 1300 22 46 36