Design Tricks for Reducing Anxiety

Published: July 4, 2022

It’s no secret that our lives are becoming increasingly stressful. Demanding jobs, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle are all contributing factors. My clients are often looking for ways to streamline their homes and reduce anxiety in the process. That’s what we’re here for!

Consider the following interior design tricks to combat anxiety and create a calming, nourishing environment at home:

Ban Angry Colors: Color has a powerful effect on our subconscious feelings and mood. Avoid an overbearing assault of oranges and reds substituting them for soft, neutral shades that have a calming effect. Soft hues of blue are particularly great for bedrooms. Grey can also help us unwind, though too much can become energetically draining.

Incorporate Biophilic Design: The term “biophilia” means “love of life and living systems”. This increasingly popular movement reflects our inherent need to be connected to the natural world. It follows then that biophilic design is a discipline that inspires the integration of natural materials and renewable resources into the design of the places where we live, work and learn. Integrating plants and natural materials re-establishes a connection to the natural world, detoxifies the air we breathe and reduces psychological stress. Juxtaposing natural wood furnishings alongside painted finishes and metals also triggers a calming effect.

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Adopt a Minimalistic Approach: We all feel stressed in cluttered, disorganized spaces. And while we’re often made to believe that acquiring material goods will bring us happiness, we learn over time that this just isn’t the case! A minimalist approach can create a calming living space and reduce anxiety. But modern minimalism is more than clean lines and an absence of decoration. It’s about carefully curating a selection of meaningful objects. As Marie Kondo suggests, ask yourself: “Does this item spark joy?”

Get Your Light Right: Light has a crucial role to play in every space. Research suggests that bright light can intensify our feelings (both positive and negative), whereas dull, moodier lighting can help us make more rational decisions. Balance is key. Consider installing dimmer switches for versatility. Soft lighting in bedrooms can help us relax and unwind. Kitchens and living spaces with plenty of natural light will help keep us alert and normalize our circadian rhythms.

Invest in your ZZZs: A solid night’s sleep is fundamental to wellbeing, and a lot of this boils down to the kind of bed we’re sleeping in. Poorly designed or uncomfortable beds can cause you to lose an hour of sleep every night. Most commercial mattresses are made from man-made materials that release toxins and spoil our air quality. Opt for organic, natural materials and feather-down pillows for a truly blissful night’s rest and to enhance health and reduce anxiety. Solid headboards have a grounding effect too. I also advise clients to replace mattresses every seven years.

—By Julie Schuster, owner of Julie Schuster Design Studio. She is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the NKBA and a member of the KBB Editorial Advisory Board.

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