Editor’s note: this post is less technical than most on Modern Smart Home, but we believe there is more to creating a smart home than just technology.
Stress Is Everywhere
But it doesn’t have to be.
For many, work is the most stressful part of the day. Physical work can be exhausting. Office work is a never-ending stream of meetings, emails and deadlines. Your boss is on your case, you always stay late and that asshole John is stealing the credit. We’ve all been there.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]…stress often spills over into your home life.[/pullquote]
The worst part, though, is this stress often spills over into your home life. The kids’ soccer game gets blurry while you worry about your big meeting tomorrow. Your below average performance review puts you in a bad mood all evening. You’re late for dinner because the world will stop spinning if the TPS reports don’t get done. Stress slowly fills all of the available space in your life.
Don’t let it.
Your time at home should be refreshing and revitalizing. Here are some tools, tips and habits you can use to transform your time at home into a stress free oasis.
Start your day off on the right foot with a stress free morning ritual. Figure out what a perfect morning looks like for you and find ways to repeat that every day. Make getting out the door as easy as possible and you’ll be in a better mood the rest of the day.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]…discovering your lucky slacks are dirty the morning of a big presentation can can spike stress levels.[/pullquote]
- Don’t stress out about what to wear, pick it out the night before.
- Don’t stress out about what to eat for breakfast, prepare it the night before.
- Don’t worry about what to pack for lunch, pack it the night before.
See the trend? Picking out clothes and packing a lunch aren’t difficult but discovering your lucky slacks are dirty the morning of a big presentation can can spike stress levels. Had you checked the night before you would have noticed they were dirty with plenty of time to clean them. Preparing the night before allows you to roll out of bed and hit the ground running with no surprises.
Takeaway: prepare in the evening to prevent stressful surprises in the morning.
Optimize Interior Design
The physical appearance and arrangement of your home can affect stress levels. Clutter and disorder are unpleasant to look at and they’ll steal your TV remote every chance they get. Reducing clutter and organizing your belongings are two things you can do right away to make your home more relaxing. Check out Decoist’s guide to relaxing rooms for some inspiration.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]Clutter and disorder are unpleasant to look at and they’ll steal your TV remote every chance they get.[/pullquote]
Believe it or not, the colors you surround yourself with can also affect stress levels. Bright colors can be stimulating and hard on your eyes. According to StyleCaster, neutral colors and shades of blue are the most soothing choices.
Similar to paint colors, the lighting in your home can work for or against you. Lighting can be too bright or too dim. Figure out what works for you and what kind of lighting strains your eyes the least. You can also use colored lighting like the Phillips Hue lamp to color wash your walls instead of getting out a paint roller.
Takeaway: reduce clutter, decorate with neutral colors and use lighting that doesn’t strain your eyes.
If you have a hard time staying organized or you spend a lot of time on mundane chores, consider outsourcing. By outsourcing I mean paying someone to take care of those things for you. This includes maids, laundry service, landscaping, etc. Imagine coming home from work to a mowed lawn and clean house every day.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]I personally hate laundry more than any other chore, job or form of torture.[/pullquote]
Outsourcing depends on what you value more: time or money. If you’re especially frugal, the thought of spending $100+ dollars on a maid probably sounds ridiculous. But if your social calendar is booked solid, that $100 may buy you five hours of freedom to spend with friends or pursue a hobby. For some, simply not worrying about cleaning or mowing the lawn is worth the money.
Consider a maid if your home is in disarray or you’re constantly picking up after kids. Maid services aren’t reserved for mansions and millionaires. You can have your entire home cleaned for an average of $150.
Lawn care and laundry are two other chores that many people choose to outsource. I personally hate laundry more than any other chore, job or form of torture. There is no magic appliance that cleans and folds your laundry for you while you sleep, but trust me I’ll be the first person to review it when it’s invented.
Takeaway: pay someone to do mundane, time-consuming chores for you (if you value time and convenience over money).
Batch Meal Preparation
Cooking dinner can be time consuming. Going to the grocery store can be very time consuming. Cut down on the amount of time you spend in the kitchen each evening by preparing several days worth of meals at the same time. Sunday afternoons are a great time for this.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]This allows me to have a variety of meals throughout the week without having to cook chicken every time.[/pullquote]
You can cook part or all of the meal, depending on what you and your family like to eat. I like to prepare a week’s worth of protein, like chicken breast, and use it in various dishes throughout the week. Chicken caesar salad, chicken and pasta, chicken tacos, etc. This allows me to have a variety of meals throughout the week without having to cook chicken every time.
BeachBody has some healthy recipes you can prepare once and enjoy all week. Meal prep also makes it easier to resist the temptation of fast food. If you have delicious meals waiting for you in the fridge it’s harder to justify the convenience of a super sized #3 with a Coke.
Pro tip: don’t eat fast food, it’s horrible for you.
Takeaway: spend less time in the kitchen every evening by batching your meal preparation once per week. Don’t eat fast food.
Exercise isn’t necessarily part of your home, but it plays such a huge role in stress reduction I had to include it. Exercise is proven to reduce stress.
If you’re lucky, you have the space and the money to set up a gym at home. For the rest of us, a gym membership is a worthwhile investment. If you don’t have access to a gym, bodyweight exercises and running will do the trick. Just get yourself moving.
You’ve heard it a million times: exercise should be a habit you stick to year round. You know it’s good for you but forming habits can be hard. Technology can help.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]You know it’s good for you but forming habits can be hard.[/pullquote]
Use the BodySpace app to track your weight training and bodyweight exercises. BodySpace isn’t just a workout tracker, it’s a social network for fitness. You can connect with friends, follow inspirational athletes and share your own progress.
Not sure where to start? No problem. Tell BodySpace your goals and it will search an extensive database of programs and exercises to find something right for you. Add those programs to a calendar and start tracking your first workout within minutes.
Use the Runkeeper app to track your runs, walks, bike rides and more. Runkeeper uses the GPS and other sensors in your phone to record your route, pace, elevation, steps, etc. Share your runs with friends and see your progress over time.
Takeaway: reduce stress by making exercise a habit. Use tools like BodySpace and Runkeeper to make forming a habit easier.
Meditation has been around for ages and has proven itself as an effective way to reduce stress. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a tie-dye wearing, granola-eating hippy to meditate. The granola isn’t a bad idea though.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]…you don’t have to be a tie-dye wearing, granola-eating hippy to meditate.[/pullquote]
Find a quiet, comfortable place in your home and turn it into your personal meditation space.
Meditation can take many forms and serve many purposes. In terms of stress management, meditation is used to relax, reflect and become more mindful. Slowing your breathing and analyzing your day can help you identify what’s causing you stress, why it’s causing you stress, etc. Meditation is very personal but I’d love to hear what techniques work for you.
Just like exercise, meditation is most effective when it becomes a habit. If you’re new to meditation, apps like Calm and Headspace offer guided experiences. After trying a few different techniques over the course of a few weeks you should have a better idea of what works for you.
Takeaway: meditation can help you sort the the noise in your life and apps like Calm and Headspace make forming a habit easier.
Disconnect From Work
If you work in an office, chances are you can work from home and get email on your phone. This is great when you actually need to work from home, but terrible when you need to relax.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]You don’t want to develop a reputation for being available 24/7. [/pullquote]
Unless you need to be available 24/7, don’t receive work email on your personal phone. You don’t want to develop a reputation for being available 24/7. It’s not healthy.
Turn off notifications from work related apps. Work responsibilities will expand to fill all of your free time if you let them and there are very few things that can’t wait until tomorrow.
Takeaway: don’t let work responsibilities expand to fill all of your free time.
Screens (phones, tablets, TVs) create unnatural light patterns that make it difficult to fall asleep. Also, the apps and media we consume on our screens are usually stimulating, not relaxing. Getting good sleep is important for stress management and screens before bed lower your sleep quality.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#52bac3″]…the apps and media we consume on our screens are usually stimulating, not relaxing.[/pullquote]
Sleeping in darkness also means better sleep by reinforcing natural light cycles. If you live in the city or if there’s a streetlight directly outside your bedroom window, get thicker shades to make your room as dark as possible.
Many people put their phone in a different room while they sleep. This prevents them from playing with it before bed and checking it immediately when waking up. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, consider buying a dedicated alarm clock and putting your phone in the next room.
If you aren’t familiar with sleep cycle alarm clocks, you may be in for a treat. They’re apps that analyze your sleep patterns and wake you up in your lightest phase of sleep. I recently wrote an article about them if you’d like to learn more. Unfortunately, using one of these alarm clock apps means you must have your phone in the room all night.
Takeaway: sleep in darkness, don’t use screens before bed and try a sleep cycle alarm clock to wake up feeling refreshed.
So there are a handful of ways for you to stay stress free at home.
What tools and habits do you use?
Tell me about them in the comments and share this post with your most stressed out friends and family. They’ll thank you.
Also, don’t forget to join our newsletter below for more ways your home can make your life easier.