32 ways to reduce stress at work and home
With so many of us leading increasingly busy lives, particularly in the workplace, it’s more important than ever that our homes are a place of sanctuary. After all, most of our days begin and end there.
But as we discovered in a series of articles that we published over the past few weeks – during Stress Awareness Month which takes place every April – our homes could be the very things that are stressing us out.
When we spoke with James Routledge, founder of Sanctus - an organisation that helps startups look after employee mental health - he talked about the link between how settled someone feels in their home and their mental health.
He also spoke about the importance of making your home a place where you can unwind.
The problem is, for many people, leaving stress behind at work is difficult.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Roni Gavish, says: “In today’s world, where work easily permeates our home setting, and where we’re constantly connected, it requires deliberate discipline to prevent work from invading and degrading our home life.”
At the same time, our own findings reveal that stress levels can be pretty high right at the start of the home ownership journey, with two in five home owners finding the mortgage experience stressful – equivalent to 625,000 home owners every year.
We spoke with Roni in more detail about some of the issues connected to stress and the home, identifying practical steps that home owners can take to reduce stress in their lives.
On achieving work-life balance
Roni says: “When people struggle to maintain and satisfy the demands placed on them by both their work and personal life, an imbalance may occur. The conflict can cause significant stress when those pressures conflict. Striking a work-life balance is imperative as it affects the wellbeing of both individuals and families.
“Research has found work-life conflict to be associated with a wide range of indicators of poor health and impaired wellbeing, including poorer mental and physical health, less life satisfaction, higher levels of stress, higher levels of emotional exhaustion, and greater likelihood to engage in problem drinking.
“Establishing a balance between work and personal life essentially means effectively integrating working life with personal aspirations.”
Tips to achieve a better work-life balance
set manageable goals each day.
be efficient with your time - work smart, not long.
ask for flexibility when you need it.
take small breaks to help clear your head - try and take at least half an hour for lunch, and get out of the workplace if you can.
speak up when work expectations and demands are too much.
put the tech away - if you’re going to bring work home, recognise the need for personal time too. It’s important to take some downtime when you get home.
don’t over commit.
discuss the issue of work-life balance with those you live with. Get support from friends and family.
make sure responsibilities at home are shared out equally.
eat well, exercise regularly, and get as much rest as you can.
take the link between work-related stress and mental health seriously. Try to reduce stress through relaxation or hobbies.
recognise the importance of protective factors including exercise, leisure activities, and friendships.
Roni says: “While collectors tend not to overwhelm their living space with possessions, people who struggle with hoarding tend to have living spaces full of objects. Those whose homes are excessively cluttered may find they’re unable to use the bathroom, or even sleep in their own bed.
“I’ve supported people who struggle with hoarding tendencies. They typically present a strong emotional attachment to their belongings which often compensates for a sense of loneliness or fills the space of a deceased loved one. At the same time, they often share this with the pain of feeling engulfed in their own home and losing their sense of themselves.”
Tips to manage clutter
don’t tackle clutter alone – do it as a family. Start with one room and appoint each person responsible for a section.
if you’re on your own, start with one area at a time and finish decluttering that area before moving on. This will give you a sense of accomplishment.
divide your belongings into four boxes: things to bin, things to recycle, things to donate, and things to keep.
find a home for every item you want to keep.
create designated spaces for frequently used items so you can find them quickly and easily. Make use of ‘closed’ storage areas, such as drawers and cabinets. Tubs can also be useful for children’s toys.
don’t let papers pile up. Go through paperwork and items of mail as soon as you can. Bin the stuff you don’t need, and store what’s necessary in its proper place.
buy new folders and storage boxes to make filing and tidying easier.
make it fun - put on some of your favourite tunes to help make the task of tidying a whole lot more enjoyable.
don’t expect to maintain a home in perfect order every moment of every day – especially if you have children. Be realistic.
once you’ve decluttered your home and have organised your belongings, add a few nice touches that will make your home more of a haven. This might include house-plants, flowers, personal photographs, a record player, or aromatherapy candles.
incorporate some of the principles of ‘feng shui’ – the ancient art of placement – into your life. This involves decorating your home in a way that will reduce stress and allow energy to flow freely.
On finding space at home to relax
Roni says: “Mounting scientific evidence strongly suggests that mindfulness can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and addictive tendencies, as well as contribute to developing greater resilience against future stressors.
“Mindfulness is a practice that allows you to train your mind and thoughts to be in the present moment by noticing what’s going on internally and externally.”
Tips to relax at home
practice mindfulness at home by creating a calm, quiet, and containing space.
seek to establish a space that’s devoid of distractions, such as noise, objects, or clutter.
make sure this is a dedicated area, such as your bedroom, a study, or simply a comfortable chair to curl up in.
as well as meditation, try other activities that can have a soothing effect, such as writing a journal, reading a book, or listening to music.
On reducing home finance stress
40% of home owners recall their previous mortgage experience negatively, according to our own research of 2,000 people. And as mentioned earlier, two in five home owners say they found the mortgage experience stressful.
But applying for a mortgage or dealing with other home finance matters doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Tips to reduce the stress of home finance
get your finances in order ahead of applying for a mortgage.
find out your credit score and take steps to improve your credit rating.
gather your paperwork together at an early stage.
make sure you use an estate agent, a solicitor, and a mortgage broker that you trust. These are the people who’ll ensure the transaction goes through as smoothly as possible.
look for an online mortgage broker for a hassle-free application process. This will save you from having to fill out lots of paperwork, arrange visits to an office, or pay a broker fee.
For more information
Stress and mental health is an issue that’s important to us here at Trussle.
If you’re concerned about the impact of stress on your mental health and would like to seek help from the professionals, consider speaking with organisations such as Mind.org.uk and Sane.org.uk who both provide free helplines and online advice.
Other articles in our series on stress awareness:
This article was written by Esther Shaw, an award-winning financial and property journalist who’s written for The Independent, The Mail on Sunday, The Telegraph, and Good Housekeeping.