Have you heard the phrase messy home, messy life? It’s much too easy to allow our homes and workspaces to become an untidy and disorganized mess. This mess can lead to feelings of anxiety and make you overwhelmed.
It becomes easy to feel helpless and somewhat trapped in our mess. Often, you don’t even realize that your disorganization and clutter habits are wreaking havoc on your mental health. Clutter creates unnecessary stress in lives already filled to the brim with stress triggers.
Clutter and Stress
When you work and live in a cluttered environment, your brain is constantly overstimulated. Tactile, visual, and olfactory stimuli surround you, forcing you to focus your mind on all the stimuli, instead of focusing on the things that are necessary. It is hard to allow yourself to let go and unwind. Your mind and your body constantly stay “on.”
You might feel that things never seem to be “done,” and sometimes you may even feel shame or embarrassment over the mess and lack of organization. This can be especially true when you have company come by unexpectedly and they witness it.
This type of environmental stress is extremely unhealthy, killing creativity and motivation. Researchers today are also finding that people under constant stress also tend to present high levels of inflammation in the body. This is because chronic, daily stressors make it difficult for your body to regulate its inflammatory response, which causes it to become out of control and contributes to a variety of related health problems.
Benefits Of Decluttering
The great thing about the minimalist lifestyle is that it’s environmentally friendly. When you make the choice to declutter, you shed the consumer mindset. You become mindful that when you do buy stuff, it’s something you really need or want instead of just another thing to collect or store.
Focus, Motivation, And Productivity Gains
There’s not much that’s more effective at drawing your attention away from things that matter than clutter. It is truly amazing how focused and clear your mind can feel when your home and work space is clean and organized.
When a workspace is cluttered and disorganized, you waste valuable time, energy, and emotion searching for things that you need to perform your job. At the top of that clutter list is paperwork. Paperwork is the bane of every business and can be a significant source of stress as well as a loss to income, if not handled properly.
There is research that shows the benefits of reducing clutter to improve business and profits. The bottom line is that businesses are more productive when things are organized and everything has a place.
Interestingly, an uncluttered environment can also help to keep you not just mentally fit but physically fit. Indiana University did a study that found a link between physical fitness and a clean home. The folks with clean homes exercised more often than the folks with a cluttered home. Researchers aren’t sure why this is, but there’s no denying the correlation.
Avoiding Anxiety And Depression
Did you know that a cluttered home can make you feel tired and even depressed? When you feel like your home is full of “stuff,” it is hard to feel rejuvenated or restored. You may always feel something is nagging at you to get done and feel like a failure when it doesn’t. Another thing that appears to be prevalent in women who feel their homes are cluttered is high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to all kinds of potential health issues.
Keeping Yourself And Relationships From Suffering
Self-esteem can deflate in a cluttered environment, especially when it’s long-term clutter that you are overwhelmed by, and helpless to change. You can become hypercritical and beat yourself up over your inability to get and stay organized, and use your gifts and talents productively.
Your relationship with your spouse can suffer too, especially if your spouse tends to veer on the other side of the spectrum and prefers neatness and organization. Hurtful words and negative comments could become normative, and the entire home environment can become mentally and emotionally unhealthy. In some cases, even divorce can result.
This dynamic also holds true with your children. As parents, it’s important to focus on your children by being attentive and calm, the rock in their storm. Unfortunately, a cluttered environment makes that kind of peace and calm difficult. Think of clutter like it’s white noise running constantly in the background of your life. The more stuff you have, the more noise you will have.
Additionally, other family relationships can suffer because of the negative energy associated with clutter. The mess is distracting and may keep your focus on negative things rather than positive ones. This negative mentality affects your relationships with other people.
Sometimes clutter can affect your outside relationships as well. Often this is because you may be too embarrassed by your lack of organization to have people in your home. However, eventually this type of behavior can lead to loneliness and isolation.
Tips for Decluttering Your Lair
Make it a Family Affair
Most likely, your home didn’t get cluttered in a vacuum. You cannot declutter it alone, nor should you. Make it a family affair, and delegate areas or sections of your home to each person.
Clear the clutter in that area, and then move on to the next. If you do have to go it alone, break the work up in sections, and focus on one task at a time. Don’t move on to the next section until you’ve completed the first one.
Follow the Rule of Three
You must love it, want it, or need it. If an item doesn’t meet any of those three criteria, ditch it. Also, consider the one-year rule. If you haven’t used something in a year or more, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s unnecessary and you can get rid of it. Don’t be a packrat.
Use Closed Storage Spaces
When you store items where you can see them, it’s a visual stressor. Instead, try using cabinets and drawers so that the items you’re storing are truly “out of sight and out of mind.”
Put Everything in its Place
Part of decluttering is also organizing and making sure that everything has a place and everything is in its place. After you use something, put it back where you found it. This is a habit you will need to work to develop, but it will pay dividends in the long run.
Consider a Pending-Action Folder
Sometimes it just helps to clear everything out of your way, yet still have it remain easily accessible. To do this, you can use a folder as a sort of catch-all so that you can quickly and easily hunt down current projects and find what you need.
Reject the Paper Pile Up
Paper clutter is one of the most significant and annoying sources of angst in a home and work environment. It can quickly pile up to epic proportions, so it’s important to go through papers immediately upon arrival and file or toss them as appropriate. The more you can toss, the better.
Clear Your Work Desk
If you have a desk, clear it off and make it tidy before the end of your work day. This is just a good habit to practice, plus it feels great to start the next day with a clean working space.
Have a Little Fun!
Put on some music, grab an iced latte, and get to work. Not only will you make your environment look better, but you will feel better once it’s done. Think of it like a weight lifted, and enjoy your now clutter-free zone.