Make your Home a Stress Free Zone

Copied from The Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Weekly News Update


Create a safe, healthy and harmonious home.

Keep your home a stress free zone!

Although it is impossible to remove all stress, there are some steps you can take to reduce your feelings of stress at home.

Your home is an extension of you and your family, supporting your daily routine, activities and personality.  Make your home a healthy, harmonious and comforting place to live. The look and feel of your home affects your own wellbeing and how your family relates. The following recommendations are inexpensive and easy, yet can turn your home into a comfortable one that reflects your personality

Create a mood with colour. Colour influences our mood and can certainly set the tone for the ‘feel of a room’. Think about the different feelings that come to mind when describing a bold red versus soft blue.  Consider the desired mood and use of a room when choosing a colour scheme.

  • Red and orange hues are cheerful, exciting, energetic, stimulating (including appetite) and empowering. It demands attention and has a great emotional impact. It makes us feel empowered. It's a great colour for a play area or workout room but may not be restful in a bedroom.
  • Yellow hues add brightness, warmth especially in dark places.
  • Green hues add calmness and restfulness.
  • Brown and neutral nature colours. Symbolizing physical comfort, ease and contentment, browns and taupe are great for neutral areas like living rooms and kitchens.
  • Blue hues add tranquillity and comfort and serenity. Blues can convey a sense of coolness in a warm climate.

Breathe in the fresh air of nature by adding plants. Plants bring life, add beauty, softness, fragrance and let in the outdoors. As living things, plants affect the space that they are occupying.   Plants can remove pollution from the air in our homes. This may be especially important in new houses that are well insulated and during winter months when windows are closed sealing the inside from outside area. Plants reduce levels of carbon dioxide, increase air humidity, reduce dust and off-gassing from plastics, chemicals in paint, household cleaners, furniture and carpet. The following plants were found by NASA researchers to be especially affective in removing off gases and other pollutants from the air.

  • Hedera helix   English ivy
  • Chlorophytum comosum   spider plant
  • Epipiremnum aureum   golden pothos
  • Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa'    peace lily
  • Aglaonema modestum   Chinese evergreen
  • Chamaedorea sefritzii   bamboo or reed palm
  • Sansevieria trifasciata    snake plant
  • Philodendron scandens `oxycardium'   heartleaf philodendron
  • Philodendron selloum   selloum philodendron
  • Philodendron domesticum    elephant ear philodendron
  • Dracaena marginata   red-edged dracaena
  • Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana'   cornstalk dracaena
  • Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig'   Janet Craig dracaena
  • Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii'   Warneck dracaena
  • Ficus benjamina  weeping fig

Decorate with nature. Decorating with elements from the world around you is cheap (free) and surrounds you with the beauty and awe of our natural world. Twigs in a vase, seashells, polished stone in a water vase, driftwood, pressed flowers and leaves. A water feature using a simple pump adds tranquillity.

Remove clutter. This is important to open up the space and give an illusion of space with free flow of energy throughout the house. An open room with minimal clutter also reduces the risk of freezing, known to worsen in tight cramped rooms.

Let the light in. Let in natural light when possible. Illuminate dark corners and stairs for safety. This is especially important if you have balance issues. You rely more on vision to help balance when your balance is affected from other causes such as Parkinson’s. High levels of light add energy and lift mood. Hard focused lighting can highlight a unique feature or object in a room. Soft diffused lighting creates a more relaxed atmosphere.

Personalize. Display art and crafts that are made by you, family or friends. Frame your children’s art or old photographs. Enlarge photos of your favourite memories, or nature scenes.

Claim your space. You will learn the importance of relaxation and the value of stress reduction to improve your Parkinson’s symptoms and your general wellbeing. Claim a part of the home as your own - whether it is an office, separate room, or even a corner or section of one room separated by a simple floor screen. Use this area to get away, have a cup of tea, read a good book, meditate, and reflect on your day or for stretching exercises.

Bigger is not always better. Large rooms with high ceilings may be beautiful but do not give us a safe ‘cosy feeling’. If your room is big, consider dividing the space into more intimate areas or grouping of furniture to create a nook for conversation or entertaining.

Surround your senses. Soft music or the sound of running water can influence your mood. Soft music can help anxiety, lift your mood and reduce agitation in persons with dementia or psychosis.

Author: Monique Giroux, MD