When Home or Work Environments Cause Stress and Depression

Our work and home environments can affect our mental well-being and stress levels more than we might think. I’m going to talk about this, and things that you could be aware of to change your surroundings to improve your general mood, mental well-being, stress, and relationships.

Recently, I moved out of an office space that I have been practicing in for the last year and a half. Then, I searched high and low for the right type of space that would be conducive to doing counseling and therapy. Although I thought that I found the right place for my practice, it soon started becoming apparent that there was too much noise and foot traffic, and that the other business owners who co-resided in the space with me didn’t have the same needs concerning quiet, harmony, and a tranquil space. The environment wasn’t working anymore.

I began to really question being there, and eventually I decided to move. I found a much more conducive space to therapy, creating the sensitive home, harmony, and tranquility that I was desiring in a practice space. I’m going to talk about ways that you may be able to achieve this in your own space, whether you decide to move or just change your surroundings.

Clutter and Mental Health

One aspect of your living more office space that you can immediately control is clutter and lack of organization. A lot is being said right now of tidying or clearing your space, so as to maximize joy and happiness. Marie Kondo, a Japanese tidying and organization expert, has made it big stateside after conquering Japan with her practical and easy to use manual on tidying your spaces. She hit a deep vein with people who have overconsumed stuff, and consequently overcrowded their living and work environments.

If you’re not a de-clutterer by nature, or are not organized by nature, consider your current space in terms of how much stuff you have. Consider how many items you have in your general space, and if every item is essential for being there. If you were feeling a sense of overwhelm, and your space is cluttered with too many items in disarray, you may be creating that feeling of overwhelm or stress for yourself. You may also be adding psychologically or emotionally to your plate by continuing to push off tidying or getting rid of unnecessary items that you’re holding on to.

If you’re procrastinating and pushing it off, ask yourself why and how is this happening. If you know that you need to get rid of and tidy your space to be able to clear your mind, ask yourself what is preventing you from this?

I’ve talked with some people who think that de-cluttering or tidying a certain space would make it easier for them to move forward with the major tasks that they need to do, so if they keep things cluttered, it’s like enabling them so that they don’t need to go do what they need to do. There’s a safety and comfort in staying stuck, and I think for some people who I’ve talked to, it helps them to stay stuck.

Toxic/Problem People in your Work Environment

Dealing with people in your living or working space may be harder than decluttering it with stuff. You have a lot more sense of power and control over the things that inhabit your space, but often times much less control over the people in it.

If you’re in an office space, it may be hard to leave it, but if it’s populated with toxic people and personalities, you may want to consider that option. If you can’t steer yourself around these toxic people, you may need to ask yourself: 

  • Is this a work environment that’s good for my mental health and my stress levels? 
  • Is this environment plagued with toxic or stressful people and personalities, so much that it is deteriorating my productivity, and my life at home? 
  • Do I feel more stressed and depressed being around these people? What does my gut say?
  • It may not be realistic to leave or quit your job, but would it be an option to try to find another space within your office setting or building? 
  • Are the ways that you can work around or avoid the people who are contributing to your stress and poor mental health? 
  • Do you need to confront one or more people to be able to create a better working environment for yourself? Can you start a productive conversation with someone?

Stress in your Home Environment

Sometimes it’s the home environment that is more stressful, compared to the work environment. Or maybe both are contributing to your stress, overwhelm and depression.

Identifying and diagnosing the problematic factors at home is the first step to figuring out how to deal with them. What are the immediate stressors in your home environment?

Possible ideas to consider in your home environment:

  • Clutter or disorganized environment; tasks or chores gone uncompleted
  • Projects gone on completed, such as fixing the drain or toilet, repairs, backyard needing work, general house or home maintenance incomplete
  • Other tasks around the house that you are pushing off or delaying
  • Marital tension or stress between you and your spouse
  • Constantly running late to get places, or to drop your kids off
  • Dark environment without good lighting
  • Conversations that need to happen that are not happening now, either with your spouse or your kids, that are weighing on you and creating a stressful, “heavy” environment
  • Not talking with someone at home, and creating that uncomfortable silent stress
  • Car traffic, other other ambient noises inside or outside (or smells) that are creating stress mentally or physiologically for you or your family

Things You Can Do To Improve Your Home or Work Environment 

  • Figure out what you’re feeling: can you check your gut or intuition? Do you know what you’re feeling emotionally in a particular environment, such as work or home?
  • Diagnose the situation: ask what might be causing those feelings, if they are related to the surroundings
  • Figure out what action steps you can take to remedy what you can change
  • Figure out if you can have conversations with someone that is creating a negative or toxic space or environment
  • Ask yourself if you can de-clutter, organize, or move objects (furniture) around for optimal mental and emotional well-being

Your home and work environments are where you spend a huge amount of your time, so it should be the spaces that you make sure are working for you, and that bring you good feelings, with less stress and other emotional chargers. Consider these things when you’re considering your mood, health and emotions, and see if there are certain things that you can do to change your environment for the better.

What do you think? Have you had difficult environments at home, or work, and not known what to do to fix them? What’s worked for you?

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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