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A person under a pile of clothes in the bedroom
Dan Saelinger (Prop Stylist Dominique Baynes)
Dan Saelinger (Prop Stylist Dominique Baynes)
Health

Here Are The 4 Things In Your Bedroom Stressing You Out

And the tips on how to fix them.

You’ve bought the quality mattress, freshened up your pillowcase and added a few tranquil plants to your bedroom. But for some reason, the place that is supposed to help you relax and wind down has been more stress-inducing than a safe haven.

What gives? Turns out there are a few stressors lurking in your bedroom that are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep — and you likely don’t even realize it.

“Our ability to fall asleep is contingent upon our bodies and brains being relaxed, so removing any items that trigger stress, anxiety or worry is key, as is introducing items that’ll help you feel relaxed and at ease,” says Natalie C. Dattilo, a clinical psychologist, instructor of psychiatry at Harvard and owner of Priority Wellness Group.

Below, Dattilo outlines four things in your bedroom that may be causing you stress, plus tips on how to fix them.

Laundry

That pile of laundry you’ve meaning to get to? It can cause you to feel stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. According to Dattilo, seeing those dirty clothes adding up day by day or thrown around the bedroom also can contribute to feeling a sense of inadequacy when it comes to keeping up with basic chores. “Dirty or unfolded laundry on the floor, articles of clothing draped over a piece of furniture, or piles occupying space in the bed can often lead to feelings of guilt, shame and stress, and will most likely detract from our ability to enjoy that space and feel good about ourselves,” she says.

So, how can you motivate yourself to keep up with the tedious task of doing laundry? Dattilo  says to develop a system and stick to a schedule: “Ask yourself: Are you the type of person who likes to do all the laundry on one designated ‘laundry day’? Or are you the type of person who likes to do a little bit of laundry every day?” Beyond this, it’s helpful to practice mindfulness when it comes to doing a task you’d rather not to. For instance, when folding laundry, use this time as an opportunity to listen to music or catch up on an audiobook. “By approaching it this way, even the most mundane task becomes a little more interesting, and anything that increases our enjoyment of a task increases the likelihood that we will do it again,” says Dattilo.

Workout equipment

The unused treadmill you placed in your bedroom in the hopes of motivating you to work out has instead been staring at you with looks of guilt and shame. Just like the kitchen is for eating (not working), many camps of people believe the bedroom is for sleeping, not working out. Of course, if putting workout equipment in your bedroom serves that purpose and you have positive associations with it, Dattilo says there isn’t a problem. “However, if you find yourself feeling guilty, ashamed or discouraged, then I suggest keeping it elsewhere,” she says. “The goal is to create designated ‘spaces and places’ in your home that are reserved for particular activities — eating, sleeping, relaxing, exercising, working, creating. When we start blending those spaces, it can dilute the association or purpose, which can then result in decreased enjoyment or perhaps decreased motivation.”

If you’re limited on space, you can still create boundaries between designated areas by getting creative with decor, shelving, rugs, bins and movable panels, Dattilo says.

Clutter

No one likes to look at clutter, and yet … it seems to follow us everywhere. As it turns out, clutter is a big culprit when it comes to feeling stressed, and things like clothes, jewelry, electronics and food wrappers often accumulate in the bedroom. One study found that clutter interfered with people’s ability to feel pleasure in their bedroom, and that messiness ultimately affected a person’s satisfaction with life.

According to Dattilo, the best way to manage clutter is to start small. “It’s easy to become overwhelmed if you try to tackle the entire bedroom at once, so set yourself up for success by starting with a dresser drawer, a nightstand or a bookshelf before tackling larger areas like the closet,” she recommends. “Once you’ve completed the task, bask in the glory — spend time in your clean space and let yourself enjoy it.”

Ultimately, managing clutter is a form of self-care. When we take care of our bedroom in an intentional way, we send an important message to ourselves that we are worth the time and effort it takes, as well as deserving a comfortable and well-maintained sleeping space, says Dattilo.

Desk and other work-related objects

You’re loyal to your work, we know, but Dattilo says that keeping work-related things in your bedroom could be big stressors. To take things one step further, she advises against working from your bed, noting that the bed should be reserved for two things: sleep and sex. “I typically do not recommend people work from their bed, as that can sometimes lead to ‘conditioned insomnia’ where one essentially ‘trains the brain’ to stay awake in bed because they’ve repeatedly paired activities that prevent sleep with time spent in the bed,” Dattilo says.

To make your bedroom a sanctuary (and a place that you enjoy being versus a place that stresses you out), Dattilo suggests doing fewer things in the bedroom that make you feel stressed (like work) and doing more things that you enjoy. For many, that will be reading, listening to music, mediating, journaling or being intimate with your partner.

Still feeling stressed? Here are 10 foods that may help to improve your mood.

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