Decorating to Calm Anxiety: 8 Decor Tips for Stressed-Out People

You can’t control your maniacal boss, exhausting children or infuriating commute down the 405. What you can control? Your home, of course—which is why we did some research and uncovered the very best science-backed decorating tips to calm anxiety and create a soothing environment. Ahhh. Aren’t you feeling better already?

The 7 Best Houseplants for Stressed-Out People

homepolish room lush plants
Design: Brooke Slabic, Photos: Nick Gleminakis, Courtesy of Homepolish

1. Add Living Plants To Every Room

Happy green houseplants are an instant visual pick-me-up, sure. But their health benefits are innumerable: First off, they clear the air of toxins and produce oxygen, which makes our spaces feel fresher. Second, they truly calm us down. In one notable study, researchers found that interacting with indoor plants (see: watering, smelling, touching) can reduce stress levels.

homepolish room bright dining
Image: Design: Susan Fox; Photo: Heidi’s Bridge; Courtesy of Homepolish

2. Stow Your Clutter

Do you feel extra frazzled when your home is a mess? That’s not in your head, y’all—it's science. Cluttered environments have been shown to increase levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) and can even make you less productive. The fix? Invest in smart storage solutions (hello, sleek wall of built-ins) and learn the art of less-is-more when it comes to decor.

homepolish room blue decor
Design: Shana Wardle, Photo: Lauren Pressey, Courtesy of Homepolish

3. Decorate With Blue

Colors have a powerful impact on our mood, and beautiful blues have been linked to stress-reduction, lowered heart rates and even an increase in sleep quality. (Something about that whole ocean/from whence we came bit, we suppose.)

homepolish room no curtains
Design: Kevin Clark, Photo: Sean Litchfield, Courtesy of Homepolish

4. Strip Your Windows

Window treatments are sumptuous, sure—but they also minimize the vitamin D-rich sunlight that our bodies so crave. Lack of sunlight is even believed to disrupt our circadian rhythms (aka our “body clocks”)—which can lead to higher anxiety and depression levels. Our advice? Take a cue from our chic Scandinavian friends and ditch curtains in rooms where you don’t need particular privacy.

homepolish room relaxing bedroom
Design: Ross Cooper; Photo: Lindsay Brown; Courtesy of Homepolish

5. Feng Shui Your Bedroom

To stress-cleanse your bedroom (where, ahem, you spend a third of your life), consider the ancient Chinese discipline of feng shui, which is believed to harmonize physical spaces, and in turn, personal energy. Two feng shui bedroom musts: A proper headboard (which makes you feel secure and nurtured at night) and a bed that’s placed out of alignment with doorways (which subconsciously blast you with incoming energy).

homepolish room desk nook
Design: Tenecia Harris; Photo: Daniel Wang; Courtesy of Homepolish

6. Separate Your Screens

PSA: Excessive screen time can cause stress and overstimulation (see this extensive list of linked studies). We know you love/hate your inbox, but this should serve as a reminder to create screen “safe zones” in your home. We recommend a designated spot for your computer (desk nook or office) and hiding your TV can’t hurt either.

homepolish room soft textures
Design: Olivia Stutz; Photo: Genevieve Garruppo; Courtesy of Homepolish

7. Pile On Soft Textiles

Know how kids are instantly comforted by their teddy bears? A 2011 study found this to be an animal instinct we never really grow out of. Furthermore, when folks have anxiety, they have an increased sensitivity and appreciation for soft textures. Your design directive: The more soft, cuddly pillows/blankets/rugs to cocoon yourself in, the better.

homepolish room lavender kitchen
Design: Paige Morse; Photo: Cody Ulrich; Courtesy of Homepolish

8. Load Up On Lavender

All hail nature’s miracle plant. Since ancient times, healers have used this scented herb to calm nerves and aid in depression—and one recent study found it had tangible effects on lowering pulse rates. Pepper your drawers and closets with sachets, upgrade your cleaning products and display the pretty purple blooms either fresh, dried or potted in a cute, little kitchen herb garden.


Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.