There’s no escaping it, finically, times are tough. With increases on groceries, increase on home heating and (the biggest one) increases on mortgages, more and more families are relooking at their budgets and reprioritizing their spending. And for some, that might mean holding off on moving (or selling) or making the decision to downsize sooner than they would like.
Financial stress can cause strain on relationships and in family dynamics. It can also weigh heavy on the mind and can result in harmful emotional and physical side effects. Although easing financial stress is a little more complicated, and not something I am qualified to advise on, I can tell you how you can create an environment that eases stress in general. And not for a lot of money.
Your home should be where you can relax, decompress, and regroup. However, when a home feels clumsy (this could be the flow, it could be the storage, or it could be amount of space in general) and when you’re already stressed out, this added level of anxiety will make being at home anything but relaxing. If this is your home now, good news, there are some budget-friendly ways to change that.
Estimated Cost, $0
Does your desk at work have papers and post-it notes everywhere or your countertop at home have bills, flyers etc floating around? This could actually be adding stress and you didn’t even know it.
There have been many studies that have shown a cluttered environment (at work or at home) can actually increase your stress levels. When your environment is in chaos, your mind has a hard time focusing on what it needs to focus on. Your mind jumps around to the other things that are “in the way” or unfinished, naturally creating and adding items to that mental checklist of yours… resulting in added stress.
Decluttering your space will not only take that distraction away, but it can also be very therapeutic. Purging things that you don’t need, are expired or even broken, is very fulfilling and it makes you feel like you accomplished something. And when there are less things floating around, there is less chaos and maybe even more space than you realized you had. Which might solve other “problems” you have in your home.
Estimated Cost, $0
While you are decluttering, reorganize. As you go through cabinets, shelves and drawings, and are purging things you no longer need, find the items that you are keeping the right place live. A place that makes sense for them based on how and when you use them – where they are needed.
Think about relabeling or repackaging (if needed) so they are better accessible and stored in a way that is visually clean (aka less chaotic). Again, in doing this, you will likely find that you have more space than you thought you had. Plus putting things where they are accessible, where you use them, will increase the overall function of the space. Lifechanging!
Remember, just because something was in one room doesn’t mean it needs to stay there. If you don’t use it in that room, move it to the room you do – or vis versa.
3. Rearrange your furniture
Estimated Cost, $0
Rearranging the furniture in your room can have a couple of different effects on you. For example, just moving a chair from one corner of the room to the other changes the familiarity of the room – this can, in turn, feel like you’ve made progress, like something as been accomplished. Even small accomplishments can have a big impact mentally. Especially if you are feeling stuck.
Changing furniture placement, of course, will also change the feeling of a room – bigger or smaller, cozier, cleaner…By changing the way your mind sees the room, it can give you a new perspective you may have never noticed before. And changing your everyday environment, how you mind and body moves without much thought, can often feel like a literal reset for yourself.
If you combined rearranging the furniture with decluttering and organizing, you will likely find that you have more room, but you also might get some clarity.
4. Change the room colour
Estimated Cost, $0-$200
Through colour theory, we know different colours have different impacts on our phycology. Not just the hue (red, yellow, blue) but also the tone (dark vs light).
Certain colour hues have been known to create a relaxing environment. If relaxation is your goal, painting a room in one of these colours or using them in a room as accents will completely change the feeling of the room. These colours include:
At the same time, the colour tone can change the shape of a room. Darker colours can make a room feel smaller or cozier. While a lighter colour will make a room feel bigger, brighter, and usually cleaner.
Repainting a room can completely change the feeling. You’d be surprised just how different a room can feel with the right colour (hue and tone) for your desired outcome.
Another colour influencer that is often forgotten about is your home lighting (lamps, ceiling fixtures etc). The light colour can also impact the feeling of a room. Many LED light fixtures now come with the option to select your colour (3000K-6500K). Warmer light (3000K) will give the room a warm glow = cozy; where a cooler light (6500K) will give the room a cooler (aka colder) glow.
5. Create a focus
Estimated Cost, $0-$200
Sometimes all a room needs is something of interest, maybe even a distraction from other less than perfect features that tend to grab your attention. When the walls of a room are stark, there is nothing for the eye to go to. This caused the eye to jump around the room, looking for something interesting and usually landing on something not so interesting or flattering (like a cluster of small appliances on your countertop).
Empty walls can also make a home feel unlived it, unfinished, and frankly cold. Adding something special to an empty wall will make the room feel cozy and welcoming – this, of course, changing the feeling of the room. This can be done in a bold way like in a wallpaper or a family photo wall or in a simpler way like a piece of art. Choose something that speaks to you and your family.
Your mental health is not something to be ignored. Sure, there are some things that are out of our control – like the cost of groceries or the Bank of Canada’s interest rates – but just because you cannot afford your dream home right now, doesn’t mean you current home can’t be fixed to come close. Your home shouldn’t be a stress adder. And by changing some small things, for little cost, you can psychologically change your perspective of your “less than perfect” home.