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Therapists share 6 things in your kitchen that could be causing you stress - and how to handle them

Therapists share 6 things in your kitchen that could be causing you stress  - and how to handle them
  • If the pandemic is stressing you out, some changes in your kitchen could help combat that.
  • Therapists shared six common things that may add to stress in a kitchen, like dishes in the sink.
  • Therapist Cecille Ahrens tells Insider our home environment is related to our overall mental health.

From dishes in the sink to spills on the counter, any kind of clutter or mess in your kitchen can cause stress, therapist Ariel Sank told Insider.

That's because there's a relationship between your environment and your overall health, according to Cecille Ahrens, a therapist who hosts a podcast about mental health called "Get Mental."

Ahrens, Sank, and therapist Weena Cullins highlighted six standout common stress inducers in the kitchen, adding that what's stressful to some may not be to others.

A gloomy kitchen can make us feel gloomy, too.

A gloomy kitchen can make us feel gloomy, too.
A kitchen that appears gloomy. Fertnig/Getty Images

Cullins said that rooms with insufficient lighting could make certain tasks hard to accomplish.

Environments perceived as dull or uninspiring can negatively impact our mental health, according to The National Counselling Society.

"A gloomy kitchen may not be as inviting and energizing to our system, which can affect our creative juices in the kitchen," Ahrens told Insider. "If we are not feeling as inspired, then cooking or food preparation may feel like a drag instead of satisfying or an activity that we look forward to."

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Crowded countertops cause stress by reducing a kitchen's functionality.

Crowded countertops cause stress by reducing a kitchen's functionality.
A kettle is plugged into the wall but not in use. Joey Hadden/Insider

Disorganization and clutter, which you often find in kitchens, typically induce stress, according to Ahrens.

Cullins said lots of appliances and gadgets on the counter and congested wall outlets are big offenders in the kitchen. "This can be visually disturbing for some people," she told Insider.

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.

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Dirty dishes tend to stress people out.

Dirty dishes tend to stress people out.
Dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Joey Hadden/Insider

Ahrens told Insider that dirty dishes, another type of visual clutter often found in the kitchen, are often a stressor for many.

"Stress causes our cortisol levels to spike, which then creates a chain reaction in the body," she added.

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Visible garbage can make people uncomfortable.

Visible garbage can make people uncomfortable.
Garbage cans exposed in the kitchen. Joey Hadden/Insider

Trash is a common sight in the kitchen, but Ahrens says it's best kept hidden.

"Garbage, especially if it is out in the open where people can see it, and unpleasant odors often immediately create the feeling of discomfort and sometimes disgust," Ahrens said.

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Working in the kitchen, which is also where households tend to gather, can cause you to feel stressed out.

Working in the kitchen, which is also where households tend to gather, can cause you to feel stressed out.
Family members wearing masks gather for a meal. 2K Studio/Getty

"During this past year, when many people were working from home, it became very difficult for people to separate work from their personal life," Sank said. "By creating a separate area where you work versus relax, you are not only creating a physical separation but a mental separation from the two."

Sank added that separating your work and chill environments could be tough when living in a small space.

"Even changing up the chair or table you sit in to work versus relax can make a big difference," she said.

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Anywhere in the home, unfinished projects can create stress, Ahrens said.

Anywhere in the home, unfinished projects can create stress, Ahrens said.
An unfinished kitchen project. Bill Uhrich - MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

An unfinished kitchen 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.

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