7 Ways Your House Can Stress You Out

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff

No matter how hectic and stressful life gets, you should always be able to count on your home to offer some peace. But if your house adds to your stress instead of taking it away, then it’s time to reassess your home, not-so-sweet home.

Questionable odors, incomplete repairs, piles of clutter, and an unbearable mortgage are all ways your house can stress you out. Feeling like you don’t have enough time to maintain your home or clean it also adds to house-related anxiety. Bigger issues like mold, roof leaks, and other major structural or mechanical problems also contribute to stress.

If your house is stressing you out, it’s time to turn the tables so you feel relaxed when you’re in your home.

Why Is Your House Stressing You Out?

Sometimes, your house stressing you out springs from larger issues, such as too little income or mental health challenges (hoarding). But other times, it’s because you need to make a few adjustments (such as creating a manageable cleaning routine that meshes with your busy work schedule).

Before diving in too deep, if you’re struggling to cope with your stress or feel you need help, be ready to contact the necessary professionals. These suggestions of why your home could be stressing you out are based on common issues people have with their houses.

Things like mounting repairs and mildew that doesn't seem to go away lead many homeowners to worry or fret. In many instances, a few adjustments and changes can help remedy the situation at hand. However, in some cases, there’s a need for more drastic measures.

You’re the best person to know what issues and solutions make sense for you. If you’re unsure, speak to a trusted friend or family member for additional guidance. Or seek counseling if you find the root of your stress lies deeper than you first thought.

Now, let’s dive into some of the common reasons your home could stress you out.

1. You Bought Too Much House

The mortgage bill comes each month and it hurts big time. You realize that your house payment is eating up almost 50% of your income each month.

Or maybe you have rooms that go untouched and unused, making your house feel a bit cold and bland instead of like a home. Perhaps you feel like you can never get the whole house tidy unless you devote an entire week to cleaning.

If any of these sound familiar, you might have bought too much house. It’s tempting to go big when purchasing a home. Keeping up with the Joneses is a very real phenomenon and many people, whether they realize it or not, get caught in the comparison trap. However, buying a house that’s too large for you to take care of or afford ultimately leads to stress.

Before you sign on the dotted line, take time to decide if you need a larger house. Are there good reasons for going larger, or are you simply doing so as more of a status symbol? Be realistic with your needs and capabilities when choosing the right house size for you.

2. Your House Is Too Expensive

This reason is similar to number one, but it has one difference worth pointing out: You don’t need to buy a huge house to get one that you can’t afford. Depending on where you live, even moderate or small homes can come with a high price tag.

As much as you want a particular home, try to stick with a house that will keep your housing costs between 25 and 30% of your take-home pay. You could go a little over 30% (up to about 35%) if you’re willing to compromise in other areas. For example, you’re perfectly content driving your reliable used car as long as possible in exchange for no car payments.

If your home only reminds you of how much you need to work to afford it, it’s going to make you anxious. Your options are to make more money, get a roommate, or sell and buy or rent a house with a more manageable monthly payment.

3. Persistent Odors

Do you get a whiff of something icky each time you enter your home or a certain room? Unless you’re Sesame Street’s loveable green grump Oscar the Grouch, you probably don’t want your house to smell. Weird odors, especially when you can’t pinpoint the source, are frustrating and embarrassing, leading to stress every time you walk through the door.

But masking the smells with scented candles or air fresheners only puts a Band-aid on the problem. It’s important to find the source and eliminate it.

For example, if it’s a ripe trash can, empty the trash. Putting an odor eliminator, like baking soda, in the bottom of your trash can under the bag can help keep things fresh.

If the smell comes from a piece of furniture, rug, or carpet, check for stains. The culprit could be old food, drink spills, or pet stains. If you aren’t able to clean it sufficiently, you may need to have the piece professionally cleaned. For more intense odors that don’t respond to cleaning, you may need to replace the item.

More serious causes of unpleasant odors are things like gasses, leaks, or dead critters in your walls or a crawlspace. If your bathroom smells despite all of your cleaning efforts, have a plumber assess the situation. For suspected wild animal issues or pest infestations, call the proper exterminator.

4. Forgotten And Half-Done Repairs

Nagging repairs that never seem to end can stress you out every time you see them. Aside from the fact that you need to fix them, it also reminds you of all the things you haven’t done.

Unfinished repairs can make you feel as if you’re behind in other areas of your life. You feel like you can’t complete anything, and that stresses you out.

If your to-do list is growing, it’s time to create a plan to tackle the repairs one step at a time. Make a list of everything that needs to happen, starting with the most important.

Place a star beside anything you realistically know you need a professional for. Be honest about your skill level and your available time. If you know in your heart you’ll never have the time to fix that leak in the bathroom tub, it’s time to get your plumber on speed dial.

5. Never-Ending Problems

Did you buy a fixer-upper in hopes of making it the perfect dream house, but instead, you get nightmare after nightmare, like mold, random leaks, or foundation issues? This is a tricky situation.

It definitely induces lots of stress. But you need to decide if you’re going to face these problems head-on and start fixing them (with the help of the right professionals), or are you going to give up and sell? It’s time to look at all of your options, assess your time and budget constraints, and decide what’s best for you and your well-being.

6. Clutter Everywhere You Turn

Clutter stresses people out, whether it’s your stuff or someone else's. If everywhere you turn you see piles of laundry, paperwork, kid’s toys, and anything else you can imagine, it’s stressful.

It’s overwhelming, and it also reminds you of all the stuff you have to do. Clutter tends to attract more clutter, so implementing a plan to get rid of it as soon as possible is essential.

Declutter your house by starting with the easy stuff first. Get some friends to lend a hand, or hire a professional organizer, if that’s what it takes.

7. Your Commute Is Too Long

You found the house of your dreams, and it was the right price, so you scooped it up. In the moment, the two-hour commute each way didn’t seem like a big deal. You thought, “I’ll listen to a audio book or learn a new language, it will be great.”

Then you moved in and actually started living your new reality and realized adding an extra four hours to your workday stinks. Plus, a long commute can affect your health. If this is the reason your house is stressing you out, you need to find a job closer to home, or it’s likely time to move.

Make Your Home A Peaceful Place

If your house is full of clutter and weird smells, you don’t feel up to cleaning, or it seems like things break every day, it’s stressful. But you can combat the stress with some simple steps to create a more manageable cleaning routine and start decluttering.

For excessive repairs or major problems, you may need to decide if you’re able to financially and emotionally handle the tasks. Otherwise, it could be time to throw in the towel and sell.

Likewise, if your home costs more than you can afford or you need to drive two hours to work every day, something needs to change. These are huge sources of stress that require serious consideration.

What’s important to remember is if your home is stressing you out, you have options. You are not forced to stay there forever in the same situation. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t face some tough decisions.

But it’s up to you to start making the necessary changes, even if you do a little at a time. Once you take the first step toward fixing the problem, no matter which direction it takes you, you’ll be a step closer to a better life.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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