For most people, school and work are the biggest causes of stress, while the home is a time for relaxation. However, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, things start going wrong at home, amplifying stress. Being prepared for these stressful events can help you cope better.
The Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland discusses several factors that can contribute to poor mental health at home, including divorce, family arguments, long-distance relationships, health issues, child care, financial issues, and more.1
Stress Can Make You Sick
Stress, in small quantities, is a normal part of life, but it can contribute to greater health issues if it is left unchecked. Long-term stress can actually cause physiological changes which can leave a person more prone to feeling severe anxiety.
Additionally, stress can lead to insomnia, weight loss or weight gain, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, difficulty concentrating, and other health issues.2
Stress that relates to work, school or other high-pressure scenarios can usually be controlled in once you have completed the project, met the deadline, or dealt with the difficult coworker. At home, stress is more difficult to deal with because it cannot be easily changed or avoided.
Causes of Stress in the Home
One of the most common causes of stress in the home is clutter. According to a recent study, individuals who live in houses that have a “high density of objects,” or a lot of clutter, experience more stress than those in tidier homes. Therefore, homes that are more organized are generally more relaxing.3
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Noise is another contributor to stress. If you’re living in a shared house or you have children, then you’re going to have a difficult battle to beat noise. Try to find a place in the house where you can go to relax for some peace and quiet to avoid noise-induced stress.
Additionally, practical issues like unpaid bills, cooking, childcare, and day-to-day chores can be a source of stress. Because these are all things that are unavoidable, it’s a good idea to find ways to ensure that these tasks are completed in a manner that is productive but also less stressful for you.
Though it can be natural to feel the need to avoid stressful situations, when it comes to those day-to-day jobs, avoidance is not always the answer.
Ways to Beat Stress in the Home
We’ve established that it’s normal to sometimes experience stress about things going on at home. The question now is how we can beat it. Though coping strategies depend on the cause of stress and personal life circumstances, there are a number of options available.
Try to find someone who can take on some chores for you so that the stress of all of the work isn’t on you alone. For example, pay someone to do minor jobs around the house or divide chores like cleaning and taking care of the pets among family members.
Take Time to Talk
Family conflicts can often be balanced with communication. If possible, take time to sit down and eat with your family instead of eating on the go.
Family meals also provide a range of other physiological and psychological benefits. Research shows that children who eat meals with their family at least three times per week are 12 percent less likely to develop weight problems, and 24 percent more likely to follow a healthy diet.4
The adults benefit too, with those who regularly enjoy family meals in the evenings reporting that their jobs are more satisfying and that they feel healthier.5
Establish a Work-Life Balance
Usually, when we talk about the work-life balance, we are talking about the importance of leaving work stressors behind you when you come home. This works both ways, however, meaning that stress at home should also be kept away from the workplace.
This balance is particularly important to establish because studies show that stress levels tend to be higher for individuals who are struggling to balance a career and a family.6
Find a Third Place
This is a term that was first described by Ray Oldenburg, a prominent sociologist. The third place is the place where people spend time, other than their home and their workplace. The idea of the third place is that it is somewhere that people can relax, exchange ideas, build relationships, and enjoy themselves.7
Third places can provide people with a chance to relax at a time when they are coping with stress at home.
If any of these scenarios of stress in the home sounds familiar, don’t be shy about talking to people and asking for help. Take some time to go on vacation, practice self-care, and think about ways of minimizing the stress that you face, using the list above for inspiration.