The Mess of Microstress: Creating a Space That’s Perfect for Body and Mind
Odds are, you’ve probably heard of stress. Most of us are far more familiar with it than we’d like. However, maybe you haven’t heard of its more insidious cousin… microstress. Microstressors are little things that fly under the radar, that bother you and stick with you but which don’t hit you in the face like big-time stressors. In the proverb about “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, they are the straws piling up.
Harvard Business Review has a great, in-depth article about microstressors in… well… business, which you can read here: https://hbr.org/2023/02/the-hidden-toll-of-microstress . One thing that article doesn’t cover, however, is microstressors which can emerge in the home.
Microstress in the Home
If you don’t believe in microstress in the home, ask the Chinese. They literally designed an entire aesthetic system for harmonizing your environment called Feng Shui. Don’t worry. This is not an article about Feng Shui. However, the philosophy is sound. Keeping your environment streamlined and balanced reduces stressors.
Unfortunately, most of our homes are far from streamlined and balanced. With all the demands on our time, most of us are lucky even to keep them clean. And it shows.
Struggling to find your keys in the morning? That’s a microstress. Cleaning out the dishwasher only to have a whole load of dirty dishes again? That’s a microstress. Stepping on a LEGO®? That’s a megastressor.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with microstress in the home.
Three Ways to Manage Microstress in the Home
Okay, yes, we sound like your mom telling you to pick up your room. Sadly, mom was right. Having things in their place really will reduce the microstress you encounter on a daily basis. What mom didn’t know is that “having things in their place” is going to look completely different, depending on your personal preference. Take that, mom.
Your living space does not have to look like an Instagram influencer’s walk-in closet. Trying to achieve someone else’s idea of “perfection” is guaranteed to turn a microstressor into a megastressor.
What we’re looking for, here, is for as much of everything to have a place as possible. And, then, for as much of everything to be in its place as often as possible. Basic decluttering/organization can save you not only stress, but time and money as well.
Creating Personal Spaces
This one is tough, especially if you have limited space or a home full of rambunctious children. However, it is important to have personal spaces that are just yours to help reduce microstress and stress in general. We advise pet owners to have a space just for the pet to retreat to when it wants to be alone, but we don’t advise humans to do the same for themselves. Odd.
What this space consists of and looks like is entirely based on your circumstance and taste. It could be as elaborate as an entire room in your house (if you have one), a so-called “she” (or he) shed in the yard, or just a corner of a room that you have decorated with things you like and maybe a bean bag or small seat. The important thing is that it’s your space to do the things you like.
This provides your space to retreat to when you need a minute–or an hour–to just breathe.
No, your house doesn’t have to be spotless 24/7. However, living in a place that’s constantly messy can be a microstressor as you’re constantly confronted with situations that are just a little bit “ick”, or they can turn into a full stressor when your living situation starts to actually make you sick.
While it may be okay to let that dusty tv stand slide for a while, letting it go too long can lead to poor health and allergy outcomes. Ditto the mildew (or mold) buildup in bathrooms and other chronically damp areas of your living space. And, should you have kids or pets, the food crumbs and other “presents” they can leave in unexpected areas can attract some uninvited guests like insects, rodents, and–again–mold.
Proper cleaning can help keep stress down and keep you more healthy. But, it’s time consuming. And, that can cause microstress of its own. So, if a deep clean is in your interest but not in your schedule, consider calling in Cleaning Cents. We’ll take the mess (and the stress) off your plate.