Therapists share 4 things in your basement that could be causing you stress - and how to handle them

Stressful basementAndreaAstes/Getty ImagesClutter, old furniture, not enough light, and incomplete projects can add stress to your life.
  • Some aspects of your basement may be adding stress to your life, therapists tell Insider.
  • Therapists said things like clutter and not enough light may add to stress in the basement.
  • Clearing out the basement, investing in organizers, and brightening up the space could help.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There are likely things in every room of your house that cause you stress.

Cecille Ahrens, a psychotherapist who hosts a podcast about mental health called “Get Mental” believes there’s a relationship between your environment and your overall health, she said.

“Certain items and elements can create stress and cause our bodies to tense up and contract,” Ahrens told Insider.

We asked therapists about the most common household stressors and found four key culprits in basements, like unfinished projects and clutter.

1. Disorganized clutter

The basement is commonly used as a catch-all for items that don’t have an official home elsewhere in the house.

“While storing the items in the basement can create a more pleasant environment elsewhere, it can be stressful to visit the basement where infrequently used items tend to clutter up space,” therapist Weena Cullins told Insider.

GettyImages 681890429MaskotA cluttered basement causes stress.

Mark Loewen, a therapist and the founder of LaunchPad Counseling, previously told Insider that clutter gives our minds more visual information to process.

“By freeing up space, you are giving your mind a break, too,” he said.

This is why Ahrens keeps clutter minimal in her own home and says she gets rid of “things that are broken or no longer serving me or bringing value to my life.”

Cullins told Insider clutter could increase anxiety around cleaning or maintaining a home.

“Despite our best efforts to keep things clean and organized, if we don’t have storage space for things like extra linen, paperwork, toys, or other odds and ends, they will continue to be left out,” she said.

To combat basement clutter, Cullins recommends investing in organizing the basement, even if you don’t spend much time down there.

“Knowing where to find things even if they aren’t used frequently can reduce stress when they are needed,” Cullins said, adding that using clear storage bins will keep you from having to rummage through boxes.

If sorting through everything in your basement is overwhelming to think about, Cullins suggests creating “organized chaos.”

“Remove boxes and clutter from walkways and common areas by neatly lining the walls or corners with boxes,” she said. “If you have random items laying around, find a bin or box for them so they can be contained or transported when needed.”

2. Insufficient lighting

Stephanie Rojas, a therapist who works on the media advisory team for Hope For Depression, said basements can cause stress because they are often dark spaces with limited light.

Cullins said that rooms with insufficient lighting could make certain tasks hard to accomplish, while rooms with bright artificial lighting that can’t be dimmed can make sleeping and relaxing difficult.

GettyImages 1263046158Cavan Images/Getty ImagesLow light is a common stressor.

“It’s important to consider the function of each room in your home and purchase lighting that helps achieve its purpose,” Cullins said.

If you’re spending time in your basement, “adding lamps, wall sconces, dimmers, or ceiling lights can help redefine a space that promotes stress,” she said.

In her home, Ahrens uses neutral tones and sunlight to keep calm and centered.

“While the research on color psychology is mixed, it appears depression is helped by white and green light,” she said. A 2005 study by BMC Psychiatry backed this.

3. Outdated or worn-out furniture

“Outdated decor or run-down furniture can bring down our spirits,” Ahrens said.

For example, Ahrens said a run-down dining table might keep you from eating in that space often.

“If your living-room couch is old, dirty, or outdated, you may not feel as relaxed being in that space,” Ahrens said.

4. Unfinished projects

GettyImages 146264182Tanya Constantine/Getty ImagesAn unfinished renovation can add to your stress.

An unfinished basement project or renovation could add to your stress.

“When we are surrounded by things that do not feel inviting or soothing or invokes some kind of a stress response, we tend to spend much less time in that space,” Ahrens said.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.