The Surprising Connection Between Mental Health and Decluttering
How does Mental Health and Decluttering go hand in hand?
Do you ever walk into a room and feel suffocated? Or do you have rooms in your home that you try to avoid? I do. My laundry room, for example, is my nightmare room. I keep the door closed and pretend it’s not there. The room is cluttered and because of the clutter, I cannot keep it maintained and cleaned.
Being in that room gives me anxiety because I am overwhelmed with the realization of just how much needs to be done to get that room under control.
Before I got the rest of my house under control, this was how I felt all the time. In every single room. I didn’t realize how much the clutter affected my mental health until it was gone. Decluttering my home gave me peace and it gave me my life back.
The benefits of decluttering go beyond a nice looking home. Decluttering has benefits to both your physical and mental health, and is an important step to a healthier and more peaceful life.
Does Clutter Affect Your Mental Health?
You would be surprised at just how much clutter affects your mental health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that people who viewed their homes as cluttered or disorganized had increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, than those who viewed their home as a restful and peaceful place.
The same people who thought their homes were untidy and cluttered also suffered from depression and anxiety.
This really makes me think. Ever since I was a child, I have suffered with extreme anxiety and depression. I grew up in a very cluttered and disorganized home. Did all the clutter affect my mental health? I guess I will never have an actual answer, but knowing what I know today, I bet it did.
Fewer Things Leaves You With Fewer Decisions to Make
The Mayo Clinic also mentions a study done on children. Apparently, children who had four toys in front of them played twice as long as children who had 16 toys in front of them.
Why? Because they had fewer decisions to make. Jumping toy to toy didn’t mean more fun for them. Having so many options in front of them shortened their attention spans.
This is a big deal. Especially, later in life. With fewer options, they had the opportunity to develop longer attention spans which leads to better focus and attention later in life.
Decision Making and Anxiety
More things means more choices you have to make. For a lot of us, more choices means more decision making and more decision making means more anxiety.
I’m not a decision maker. I will not decide where we are going to eat. I will happily find something to eat wherever we go. I’m not going to make that decision because I fear choosing a place that the other party doesn’t like or doesn’t want to go to.
Decision making = anxiety.
The same goes for your clutter. All of the “things” that society assured you that you need is causing you have to have make more decisions.
Think about it. When you are cooking dinner and you go for a pot, you open up the cabinet and have four that you could use. But which one will do a better job?
Cast iron? I’d have to hand clean it when I’m done. Nonstick? I could throw that in the dishwasher. Magnalite? I love cooking with this one but it’s so heavy. Teflon? I meant to throw that out.
Believe it or not, your body will start to stress over the decision. Even without you realizing it.
If you’d minimize how many pots you own, you wouldn’t have to make this decision every time you go to cook. You could just grab the appropriately sized pot and move on. Saving yourself that minute of cortisol release.
Why Decluttering is Good for Your Health
There are just so many benefits to decluttering. Improved physical health, being one of them.
Sounds crazy, huh? But it’s true. Decluttering your home and having less stuff everywhere helps to reduce dust, mildew, and mold. Making the environment easier to breathe in.
Take it from me, I’ve seen what keeping an item in the same spot, untouched, for ten years can do to a wall.
But not only that, your overall well being is improved. Decluttering makes it easier to organize your home. Having an organizational system that works for you and that you can maintain is so important for productivity.
A tidy and orderly kitchen makes it easier to cook in. A clutter free living room is easier to relax in. And believe it or not, research shows that most people can sleep better in a room that is clean and tidy.
Benefits of Decluttering
So, lets take all of that in.
I know this sounds like a bunch of hippie dippie stuff. I get it. You’re probably thinking, yes, there are benefits of decluttering, but the decluttering process itself is difficult.
And it is. I won’t even lie to you. Letting go of my things was so hard.
Now, I didn’t get rid of stuff that meant a lot to me. I kept things that held memories and sentimental things. But I let go of a lot.
I let go of everything I no longer use. I downsized my craft cabinet because, lets be real, I haven’t actually “crafted” since Em was a baby.
I downsized everything, really. Yes, it was hard at first. But I am so glad I did it. You know why? Because everything has a place now. Everything that I kept has a home. A proper home. Things aren’t just shoved into drawers and cabinets anymore.
Decluttering Reduces Stress and Improves Your Well-being
When we declutter, our brains experience relief. There is a significant decrease in the cortisol levels in our bodies when clutter is removed from our space.
Having a home free of clutter improves your mood and, ultimately, gives you back control of your home. That is a huge win.
A home free of clutter is easy to keep clean and easy to organize. I can’t begin to tell you how much decluttering improved my life. Not only do I have my home under control, at all times, but I am not constantly worried about what needs to be done. It’s honestly incredible.
Take Control of Your Home and Your Life
So, what you can take from this is that the benefits of decluttering your home are HUGE. And they far out-weigh the struggles we face when it comes to decluttering.
But after we can face the initial shock, overwhelm, and stress of starting our decluttering journey, just remember- this is the last time these items will be causing you this overwhelm and stress.
Your home will be functional, clean, and will benefit you, your physical health and your mental health. YOU are what’s important. Not your things.
For free decluttering support, reach out to me, I would love to help. You don’t have to do this alone.