When was the last time you checked in with your home to find out if it's stressed out?  I notice this kind of stress in my home sometimes. 

I remember one day, when I lived in an apartment in Cambridge, I woke up and realized that my house felt burdened.  This wasn't the first time this had happened.  I would often come home from a long day and notice that my house looked out of control, as if someone had thrown a party in my absence.  It wasn't messy, per se, but it felt tired and beat-up.

This kind of burdened, out-of-control environment is contagious.  If my house is stressed, I feel stressed, too. My friend Cheryl Miller says, “If we don’t create our environments, they will be created for us.”  Here are Cheryl's most recent tips for "Summerizing Your Home."

So... this week, take the time to lovingly cultivate your home environment.  Get ready to lighten its burden, release its true spirit, and create a haven that makes your soul sing! 

Take a few minutes right now to walk around your house and look for simmering stress pockets.  Take a small notebook with you to write down your observations.  Don’t put this exercise off until tomorrow – it will only take a few minutes.  I'll walk you through it right now.

First, use your eyes as your guide.  Notice which areas are offensive to your eyes.  Visual stress zones will make your eyes glance away quickly. Note: just because an area is cluttered does not mean that it’s a stress zone.  You may really like the clutter in certain parts of your home.   In contrast, notice the areas that attract you and call to your soul.  What is about these areas that is so sweet and gorgeous? 

Second, rely on your ears.  Listen for the sounds that cause stress to percolate in your home.  In contrast, notice the sounds that soothe you. 

Third, call on your sense of touch.  Be very conscious of the fabrics, surfaces, and materials that do not fully embrace your body.   In contrast, notice the touch experiences that you look forward to and love. 

Fourth, ask your nose to lead the way.  Go around and do a sniff-test on your home.  See what scents attract you and which ones repel you. 

When I did this exercise in my home, I noticed several stressors:  

Using my eyes:  My biggest visual stress zone was actually my bedroom.  Not because it’s cluttered, but because it’s too masculine.  There aren’t enough soft edges, delicate details, and “cozy spots” to suit my feminine soul. The sights I loved were: the light streaming through my windows, the plants in my kitchen and dining room, and the color on the walls of my office. 

Using my ears:  Since my apartment is usually very quiet, I was in for quite a surprise today! Since it was the first nice day in weeks, I opened the windows up.  The open windows brought in all kinds of stressful sounds: a power trimmer, a vacuum downstairs, kids cursing outside, and cars passing.  I also noticed that the buzzing of my laptop was rather bothersome (how had I never noticed that before?), as was the sound of the TV at night.   The noises that I loved were: the birds chirping, the church bells ringing, and the sound of the breeze coming in through the windows.   

Using my touch: I realized I really don’t enjoy my hard dining room chairs that are too painful to sit in for more than 5 minutes. The dishes piled in the sink created a tactile discomfort for me because there was no room for me to fill up my water bottle.  The touches that soothed me were my soft couch, velvet bed comforter, and clean countertops. 

Using my smell: This was interesting.  When it came to smells, I didn’t notice anything!  No good smells…. but no unpleasant smells either.  There’s obviously room for me to play and experiment. 

What did you find in your home? Now that you’ve identified the sources of stress for you and your home, use the beauty of this week to make some changes that will truly support your health and relieve your stress. 

Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing: 

For your eyes:

  • Take curtains off your windows to allow the summer sunlight through
  • Add a new plant to an austere corner of your house for an instant ‘life-lift.’
  • Hang a new piece of artwork on the wall
  • Get rid of a pile of clutter

For your ears:

  • Create a media-free zone for an evening by turning off the TV, radio, and phone. Enjoy the blissful silence. 
  • Put a small stereo in a room that is plagued by neighborhood noises.
  • Make sure your CD collection includes music for all of your moods.  Be picky about the music you listen to – only the very best will do!
  • If noise disrupts your sleep at night, get a noisemaker for your bedroom.  You can buy a fancy one that plays nature noises, or you can use a $10 fan from Target.

For your touch:

  • Put soft, smooth all-cotton sheets on your bed
  • Remove your heavy winter duvet cover and replace it with a soft, light summer blanketBuy a soft, lush kitchen towel
  • Invest in all-natural cleaners (like Seventh Generation... or use plain vinegar and baking soda) so that you can clean your countertops and dishes with chemical-free materials

For your nose:

  • Put peppermint or lavender essential oil in a bowl of water and leave these fragrance-filled treasures around the house
  • Dab a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillowcase to relax you at night
  • Light candles that will release sensational scents into your home


This week, select just one change that will make your home less stressful, and have fun making it happen!




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