How Does Housing Affect Health and Well-Being?

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Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Friday September 27, 2019

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You know that multiple factors influence your overall health and well-being. The food you eat impacts your digestion and energy levels throughout the day. Your choice to exercise or sit on the couch plays a part in determining how fit and flexible you are. Even the weather factors in — who hasn’t felt a bit sluggish on a rainy day? 

However, have you ever thought about how where you live influences your overall well-being? The wrong living environment can damage your physical and mental health, but improving it can lead to significant benefits. Examine the space you occupy and identify ways to make yourself feel better where you dwell. 

Housing Factors That Influence Health 

Do you feel under-the-weather, but you can’t pinpoint why? Your home may hold the answer. Multiple factors can combine to make you feel a bit sick or off — and some can lead to more substantial problems down the road. 

Mold and Toxins 

For months, you felt like you had a lingering cold that won’t go away. It could be time to take a look at your kitchens and bathrooms, as well as your basement and attic if you have them. Unexplained symptoms can indicate a mold infestation. One clear way to tell is if you see spores growing on walls or ceilings. However, once these develop, the problem is generally widespread. A faint musty odor may be your first indication that you have this issue, along with a history of flooding at your property. 

If you identify mold, you need to remove it right away. You also must identify the underlying water source that encourages growth. Removing the substance without fixing the leak will only lead to the need for further restoration later. You can use a bleach solution and a soft brush to remedy the situation. If you have respiratory problems that make breathing problematic, you can call in a professional service to tackle the task. 

Another issue that can cause misery may stem from the scented candles you use to relax. Paraffin wax candles release highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned. Additionally, the wicks can contain heavy metals that raise indoor levels higher than the acceptable limits. If you enjoy fragrance in your home, an aromatherapy diffuser that uses natural essential oils could be a better alternative.

Noise and Light Pollution 

Maybe you think that you have gotten used to the flashing neons outside your bedroom window if you live in an urban area. However, specific wavelengths of light can interrupt your sleep patterns and leave you feeling unrested, even if you lie quietly for several hours. For the most restful slumber, keep electronic devices, including televisions, out of your bedroom. If outside lights prove disruptive, try installing blackout curtains to cut the pollution. 

Excess noise can also take a toll on your physical and mental health. If your neighbors ask you to turn down your television all the time, consider getting an ear exam instead of labeling them busybodies. Exposure to excessive decibel levels can damage your hearing and can even hurt your heart. Prolonged exposure to noise impacts your autonomic nervous system and can lead to increased blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

Physical Safety 

Finally, you need to feel safe in your home. Children who grow up in violent neighborhoods can develop PTSD and other mental health disorders. As an adult, you can adopt positive coping mechanisms, but the stress can nevertheless lead to adverse health effects. Additionally, you must worry about how to pay the monthly rent or mortgage, which can prove problematic for those with low incomes. Many people who live in unstable home situations have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease than those who enjoy a more peaceful environment. 

Making Your Home Conducive to Your Health 

If you suspect your housing situation harms your health, what can you do to improve the situation? Consider taking the following actions: 

  • Do a thorough spring cleaning: As you go through each room of your home, pay attention to hazards. If you notice any musty-smelling areas, do a thorough inspection and cleaning for mold. Also, take note of any other risks, such as exposed wires or malfunctioning garage doors. If you don’t have the expertise to fix the problem, call in a professional. 
  • Make your home a sanctuary: As much as possible, try to rid your home of noise and light pollution. You can invest in a white noise machine if rambunctious neighbors keep you up at night. Swap out glaring fluorescent bulbs for softer track lighting. Consider using table lamps instead of overhead lights if you rent and don’t want to improve your landlord’s property. 
  • Strive for stability: This suggestion does prove tougher to implement if you have a shoestring budget. However, if you always find yourself stressing over monthly housing costs, try to identify ways to either increase your income or cut expenses. For example, swapping out one restaurant meal per week in favor of a homemade version could save you over $800 per year. Consider taking on a side hustle for extra cash or renting out a spare room on sites like Airbnb. 

Your Housing Affects Your Health and Well-Being More Than You Think 

The place where you live can significantly impact your overall health and well-being. Follow these tips to breathe more comfortably when you say, “home, sweet home.” 

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