Our home brings with it an undeniable feeling of familiarity and comfort. We can be out all night having the time of our lives when, all of a sudden, have a yearning to “just go home.” But is our home actually a covert catalyst of anxiety?

Let us begin by exploring the Biophilia Hypothesis for a moment. It was proposed by naturalist, biologist, and author Edward O. Wilson in 1984 in the book Biophilia.  The Biophilia hypothesis, or “BET,” is the notion that human beings possess an inherent, intimate connection with nature. Modern society’s current ways of living – heavy industry (and pollution), obsession with money, addiction to technology – has effectively separated us from our former abode, causing a conflict in the subconscious.

Wilson’s theory makes sense when viewed from an evolutionary perspective. Not long ago, man lived out amongst the elements, save for rudimentary shelters like caves and tree branches. When not resting, you would find the men, women, and children outdoors, hunting and gathering for food, water, and other necessities of daily life.

What does the Biophilia Hypothesis have to do with home-induced anxiety?

Well, if Mr. Wilson is indeed correct, our home is separating us from our original habitat – and no species is okay with exile!  Another idea is that nature signifies life and vitality. Indeed, plants and trees – two of the most commonly-found things in nature – permit life; a fact that may help explain why we find flowers and plants adorning most homes and workspaces. The hypothesis may help explain why many people feature nature at the centerpiece (if you will) of their homes – a concept known as biophilic design.

In other words, as Mammalia, we human beings – despite our advanced intelligence and, for some, vehement insistence to the contrary – inherently desire to return to our original home out in the elements. As a side note, Wilson’s hypothesis gathers steam when you consider that humans are the only species who do not actively reside in the natural world.

At the very least, the Biophilia Hypothesis makes us think about our relationship with nature. Whether it explains away the deep-rooted anxiety that some (all?) experience in the home is up to the psychoanalytical among us.

The Biophilia Hypothesis aside, we do know that one’s environment can influence their state of mind. Given that the home is indeed an environment, it is reasonable to assume that it can spur anxious feelings, but why? Here are 9 possible ways that your home can give you anxiety:

  1. Your place is cluttered and disorganized

Okay, so check these numbers out. Per a survey of more than a thousand Americans over 18 years old, 47 percent constantly worry about the orderliness of their home. Also, scientists know that too much clutter raises cortisol levels. Per Psychology Today, the stress hormone cortisol “is public enemy number one,” with high levels of the hormones causing disturbances in learning and memory, immune system, metabolism, and more.

What to do: Start small by organizing your bedroom closet or kitchen drawers. Eventually, begin thinking bigger and take on more time-consuming projects. The enemy of anxiety is action. Take it.

Read more on the next page…