Thanks to Marie Kondo and her well-documented mission to spread her love of tidying up to the world, we’re well aware of the power of decluttering and the many benefits it can have for your home. But there is also research that suggests that decluttering can have a real impact on your health and mood.
A study published in 2009 in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that clutter can lead to a homeowner feeling more depressed, especially if visitors comment on the mess.
Often, it’s not the clutter itself that’s so damaging; it’s how you react to it, according to Dennis Greenberger, PhD and director of the Anxiety and Depression Center in California
“Someone who walks into a cluttered, messy office and thinks: ‘I pretty much know where everything is and I’m excited to do meaningful work I enjoy’ doesn’t really have a problem,” he said.
“Someone who steps into the same room and starts to fret about finding what they need or obsess over what others might think about the mess likely needs some help.”
Below are some of the health benefits that decluttering your home can lead to.
When things feel out of order, it can make us feel scattered and anxious. Cluttered space is chaos for the mind. Getting rid of unnecessary clutter can instantly calm down the nervous system and reduce anxiety. The key is to take things slowly, to avoid becoming overwhelmed and causing anxiety levels to rise.
There is research to suggest that clutter in our homes can prevent our body’s cortisol levels from naturally declining throughout the day, disrupting our sleep cycle. Our brain interprets visual stimuli as tasks that need to be completed, so when we see clutter – whether consciously or unconsciously – it causes cortisol levels to rise. Removing the clutter changes the brains response and helps you get an unbroken sleep.
There’s an old saying that a clear space means a clear mind. ‘Bare desk, bright work’ is another one that has resonated with many an office worker throughout their careers. When we declutter, we open up space to get more done, to feel more focused and feel lighter and more creative.
While having a clean home certainly makes you feel more comfortable inviting guests over, it can also give you sense of achievement. Because you’re using decision-making skills, by choosing what to get rid of and what to keep, you’re reminding yourself of your ability to get things done and complete tasks – something you might not do a lot of now that you’re retired.
With less stuff weighing you down, you’ll have a renewed sense of energy. Once you get started, you’ll find that you’re more motivated to tackle jobs you’ve been putting off or start sticking other things off your to-do list. It’s the domino effect!