We all know stress is bad for us. In fact, about 64 percent of us say we are actively trying to reduce the amount of stress in our lives, according to the American Psychological Association. Health and interior design experts agree: stress relief can start at home by using smart stress-relieving design techniques.

"Our moods are affected by our immediate environments, and we can change how we feel by changing our interiors," says Jonathon Fong, an interior designer, author and principal of Jonathon Fong Style. With most Americans citing the workplace as a major source of stress, it makes sense that we should try to make our homes as much of a restful oasis as possible.

Stress-relieving design doesn't have to be costly, either.  "If you're trying to relieve stress, you need to surround yourself with colors and images that are calming," says Fong. "Often, just by changing a design element in a room, you can trigger a calming response."

Here are some tips for incorporating stress-relieving design into your home:

* Focus your stress-relieving efforts on rooms where you spend a lot of time, like the kitchen, bath or bedroom. "The bathroom is an ideal room to incorporate stress-relieving design elements, because these elements fit naturally into a bath setting," says Fong. "Things that reflect nature and water, like plants, flowers and stones (either actual or images of them) beautify the bath and alleviate stress."

* Choose design elements that will provide the most impact, such as repainting a room in a soothing color, adding a water element or even a wall mural. "A wall mural can enhance your décor's stress relief ability many times over," Fong says. "It's like stress relief on steroids."

Wallpaper murals, available online at www.muralsyourway.com or through home improvement leader Lowe's, make it simple and affordable to create dramatically soothing effects. "Whether it's beautiful scenery or a calming piece of artwork, the mural transports you to another environment," Fong says. "No mere wall color or decorative accessory can do what a wall mural can. It's the easiest and most dramatic way to turn a room like a bathroom into an oasis."

* Keep clutter to a minimum. Clutter can be hugely stressful on many levels - from the visual impact it has on a room to the distressing effect of not being able to find something important because of the clutter surrounding you.

* Chose calming colors, like blue or green. Designers have long known that color can directly impact mood. Natural tones, especially soothing water or grass hues, are known to have a calming effect. You can use the colors on the walls, or incorporate them into your furnishings and accent pieces.

* Turn to nature. Natural elements are very stress-relieving. For lighting, opt for as much sunlight as possible (or soft light at night that mimics candlelight). For accessories, plants add a soothing touch of green and also boost the oxygen level in a room.  Textures and tones that make us feel closer to nature help relieve stress. "Natural elements make us feel at one with nature," Fong notes. "We escape civilization through these elements."

Courtesy of ARAcontent


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