Environmental stress is defined as the minor irritations and frustrations of every day life.

Examples of environmental stress range from the frustrations of commuting, to badly organized workspaces, to the quality of the air we breathe, to the type of lighting we have to work in and the level of noise in our environment.  We experience a variety of these small environmental stressors every day and while these may seem relatively minor, they can all add up to become “background stress” and decrease our overall level of happiness.  When we experience major stress, environmental stress makes these bigger events more difficult to handle and rebound from.   This is why it is important to recognize environmental stress and take steps to alleviate it as it occurs.

Consider if any of the following are found in your home or work environment:


•A work-space that is messy and disorganized making it difficult to find things

•A noisy office that makes it difficult to concentrate

•An environment that is too quiet and lacks stimulation

•A work-space that has bright fluorescent lighting overhead

•A work environment that is lacking in brightness, both daylight and décor

•A work place that has poor ventilation or a system that simply circulates germs


•A home environment that is messy and disorganized making it difficult to find things

•A home that is not cleaned on a regular basis

•A home environment that has cigarette smoke in the air, on the furniture, and the walls

•A bedroom that has light coming through the windows at night

•A bedroom that has light from a television, clock, or other appliances glowing during sleep

•A home environment that is greatly lacking in brightness, both daylight and decor

•A home environment that has various unpleasant odors lingering

Some environments help us relax while others energize us, and some just contribute to our stress.  Our body produces a stress hormone when we are exposed to a stressful environment.  Our brain goes out of balance and responds by becoming either over-stimulated or under-stimulated.   How do you reduce environmental stress?   First, examine the environment in which you live and work (really, anywhere you spend a good amount of your time).

To manage stress, you need to have a balance of energizing, as well as stress reducing, environments.  In other words, we need a balance of stimulating environments as well as less stimulating – a balance of fast paced and tranquil.  To reduce stress and become resilient to it, it is very helpful to create the time and space to have tranquil experiences, through meditation, visualization, or quiet time by yourself.   Assess your work and home environments and determine if they create a sense of tranquility, or more of a state of chaos and stressfulness.

Some changes that you might want to consider are:

•Soft lighting •Windows that can be opened to the outdoors

•Soothing colors •Art work (paintings/sculptures)

•Comfortable or ergonomic furniture

•Effective soundproofing materials to reduce outside noise

•Enough natural light in rooms where you spend a great deal of your time

•A bedroom that is free of any light at night, including any dim lighting by a television or clocks

•An environment free of cigarette smoke

•Clean and free of dirt and germs

•Add Plants and flowers

•Reduce clutter and organize your space so that it easy to find things

•Replace florescent lighting with electric lighting that is as natural as possible

•Have a space somewhere within the environment where people can get away from noise

It has been shown that people who are effective at managing their stress create quiet spaces to relax.  Find your own quiet space in a room in your house, car, garden, beach, woods, or park.  Meditation and self-hypnosis are some of the best ways to relax, and you don’t have to actually physically “go” anywhere to find that tranquil space.

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