Twenty million Brits feel out of control in their home life- in response to these figures, we spoke to Psychologist Jo Hemmings about how a perceived lack of control can impact on your health. 

Health on Female First

Health on Female First

What does feeling in control in general do for our mental health?

One of the positive ‘Big 5’ personality traits, is ‘conscientiousness’, which shows an individual’s tendency to be organised, and motivated – which is what feeling in control is all about. Feeling in control can make us feel more secure, more reassured and generally happier overall. Being a “Control Freak” has lost its negative connotations and people often view this as a positive personality trait.

Why does feeling in control of your home contribute to happiness, relaxation and less stress?

In today’s busy lifestyle and against a backdrop of constant change and uncertainty, it is fitting that we are now craving more control in the home as it is one of the areas that we can have control over. Our homes are so often sanctuaries away from the hectic pace of work, commuting – even socialising, especially at this time of year – knowing that it is a place where can escape all that, reduces our cortisol levels – which contributes to stress – and raises our serotonin levels, that make us feel happier.

How can digital devices help us to do this when often they are seen as having the opposite effect?

Many of us lead busy and chaotic lives, so when we are at home, we want it to be as stress free and relaxing as possible. The technology is out there to help us create order in our homes, even when we are not physically there to do it ourselves, so if this is going to positively impacting your home life, why not use it?  

In a recent survey from the smart home specialists Hive, two fifths of Brits said they enjoy using technology to control their home. Simple things like being able to control the heating from your phone can have a real impact on your overall well-being. When the temperature is warm, our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) drop, meaning it is much easier to unwind and relax. Installing smart technology such as Hive Active Heating, allows you to control the heating from your smart phone – so after a busy day at work, you can head home to a warm and comforting welcome – and can even save you money.  

Why do you think so many people feel out of control in their own homes?

Modern day life can be hectic and we can often feel overwhelmed by life admin and the house to do list, which can in turn lead to us feeling a bit of control. However, there are simple tactics to restore that sense of order in your home, from implementing rotas, to turning to technology to help remind you or to make those everyday tasks simpler. Even if you don’t full ‘declutter’, untidiness also contributes to our stress levels as does not being able to find things when we need them, so organising – whether that’s being in control of your heating and hot water or making sure everything is where it should be for the next time, really helps us  hold onto our sense of control.  

What are some small wins to getting more control in our daily lives?

There are many ways that you can get more control in your daily lives – top tips include:

  • If your life admin feels as though it is getting out of control – take a step back to work out your priorities. Look at what needs to be tackled first and break this down into a set of short-term, realistic goals. Be sure to recognise and acknowledge when you have completed a task. Making use of the to-do section on your phone is a great place to start, sometimes simply being able to tick something off your to-do list, no matter how small, can really help to put your mind at ease.
  • Another way to feel more in control is to declutter. As the saying goes, a tidy home leads to a tidy mind – and this can actually leave you feeling more motivated and ready to tackle what life throws at you.
  • The environment we create in our home can really impact our mood, leaving us feeling sluggish and out of control if we don’t get it right. Creating a relaxing space, can help you feel calm away from the general hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Adjust the lighting in your home to create a cosy atmosphere – either by letting in natural light or decorating a room with carefully placed lamps. With Hive Lights, you can easily adjust the brightness of the lights with your phone – ideal if you are in need of a bit of zen time.
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate and ask for help from those you live with. There is lot to consider when looking after a home from putting out the rubbish, to making sure the cleaning gets done and all the bills are paid on time. Don’t be afraid to spread the load with those that you live with and allow you to spend less time worrying about the small stuff, and more time enjoying the big stuff

Does a feeling of control work positively in other areas of life too?

Absolutely, often when you feel in control of your home life, you find it easier to be in control of other areas of your life as you feel more motivated. Feeling like you’re in control is as much a state of mind, as it is practical issues, so once you have a handle on control in your own home, that feeling of achievement is quite infectious and will very often drive you towards having more control over other aspects of your life too.

For those looking for more order in their home, the smart home specialists Hive has teamed up with rugby legend  and self-confessed ‘control freak’ off the pitch Chris Robshaw to help Brits get their house in order. For one evening, one winner will take it easy while Chris comes over, tackles the chores and passes on his winning tactics for restoring order in your home (and probably a few rugby stories).  To enter, click here:  

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