We may have accepted that stress will always be a part of our lives. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be. Allowing ourselves to be consumed by stress without addressing it will lead to burnout, which in turn will leave us feeling depressed and unable to function properly—be it at work, at home, or in social situations.
Fighting stress doesn’t have to involve going on a grand vacation to some beach destination or even blowing your budget on a luxurious spa retreat or hotel staycation—although, yes, these will also help. If you don’t really have the budget for these splurges, we have good news: There are little ways you can de-stress and avoid burnout from the comfort of your own home. Some of these tips don’t even require you to spend.
1. Devote time for major spring cleaning.
One of the first things you need to do to fight stress and avoid burnout is to identify what is stressing you out in the first place. Is it a bad breakup? A toxic work environment or simply too much work? Is it a major crisis in your family or among your closest group of friends? Whatever it is, purge it from your sanctuary—that place you know you can always go to relax and be free from your troubles, at least within the amount of time you spend in that place.
If you live with your family or roommates (who may be stressing you out), this can be your bedroom. If you live on your own, even better—you can turn your own space into your own sanctuary. Remove all items from your room or your home that you associate with what’s stressing you out: photos, mementos, and gifts from your ex; or if it’s your job or co-workers that’s stressing you out, purge your home of anything work related—you should avoid bringing home work in the first place! “It’s not just sort of the physical action of cleaning…It’s an emotional letting go,” designer Justina Blakeney, author of The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes, told The New York Times .
2. Replace the items you tossed with items that bring you joy and evoke beauty, peace, or even hope.
Put some greenery and add some color, decor, or accent that will instantly cheer you up when you’re in your sanctuary or your home: anything blue, a photo of your favorite destination, or a cheerful pattern on your walls. Blakeney says this will improve your mood and the quality of your life, make you feel more relaxed, and generally support your well-being.
3. Address the little things about your home that may be causing you unnecessary stress.
Maybe it’s not just clutter that’s weighing you down; maybe it’s the very design of your home. Pay attention to the things that are causing you hassle: an area that just absorbs all the clutter, a corner or furniture you just keep bumping into, a door or cabinet that won’t open properly. You don’t notice it, but these things add to your stress.
“Doors should swing freely, passageways should be cleared and zones should be created that support your daily routines and activities,” Blakeney told The New York Times. She said you will realize how much better you’ll feel when the obstruction is gone. “All these tiny, little things on their own are not a big deal [but taken together, they can damage your mood]. All of a sudden you’re annoyed, and you don’t even know why,” she added.
To do this, Blakeney suggests the two-foot rule: allowing at least 24 inches between furnishings, which she discovered was the amount of space between pieces of furniture in places where she felt most at ease.
4. Get enough better sleep.
Now that you’ve addressed the things that may be stressing you out in your own home or sanctuary, you’ll notice that you probably will even sleep better. Getting at least eight hours of quality sleep a day do a world of good to your mood, memory, and immune system. On the other hand, lack of sleep contributes to stress, burnout, and even weight gain and obesity.
Enough quality sleep is definitely the top stress buster that does not cost a thing or require any effort. To achieve this, make sure to shut down gadgets an hour before snoozing. It also helps to have a nighttime ritual, like enjoying some hot tea or a warm bath. Keep essential oils with relaxing scents by your bedside table.
5. Experiment with aromatherapy using essential oils.
Speaking of essential oils, they deserve another entry altogether on the list of ways to fight stress. Besides helping you sleep better, other essential oils offer a whole lot of benefits that contribute to your overall well-being and relaxation. Some essential oils you may want to start with are lavender, patchouli, rosemary, grapefruit, and lemongrass.
Lavender, in particular, is known to improve sleep and help reduce anxiety and emotional stress. Try adding lavender oil to your favorite body lotion and apply it before bedtime. Patchouili, on the other hand, has a grounding and balancing effect on emotions. It’s known as an antidepressant and it can lift moods. Also try lemongrass oil’s cleansing scent that washes over anxiety and can help put you in a state of relaxation.
Rosemary, meanwhile, has been known to help with mental expansion, clarity, and meditation. Mixed with mineral oil and applied on your upper neck, this woody, herbal scent can help reduce nervous tension and fatigue. Grapefruit essential oil likewise helps lift mood, and reduce mental and—to some degree—physical fatigue.
Use a few drops of essential oils mixed with water on your home fragrance diffuser, or mix your preferred essential oil with mineral oil if you want to use it for a relaxing massage. For more on essential oils, refer to our previous article on “How To Make Your New Home Healthier—And Smell Great—Using 8 Essential Oils.”
6. Let more light into your home.
A dark room or living space definitely brings you down—not only does it NOT help you fight stress, it might even be causing it. What essential oils can do for your sleep, better lighting can do for your waking moments in your sanctuary. “If I had to pick one tool that makes a home feel good, I would pick natural light,” Blakeney told NYTimes.com. “If adding a window is not an option, you may hang mirrors in strategic places to reflect whatever natural light you have.”
It can also be as simple as cleaning your exterior windows to literally let more sunshine in. “It immediately lifted my spirits in sort of a magical way. All of a sudden, you could see the sunbeams coming through. It felt spiritual in a way, and I really felt renewed,” Blakeney said.