How A Clean, Tidy Living Space Can Help Boost Your Mental Health | Guest Post by Jane Sandwood

Woman drinking coffee

“On the macro level, there is an attachment to our place, but on the micro level, it’s our possessions that we identify with,” says Joseph Ferrari, Professor of Psychology at DePaul University in Chicago. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Ferrari and associates found that clutter has a big impact on mental health, especially when it is such a big distraction that home dwellers find it difficult to focus. Equally dangerous is the case in which piles of possessions and dirt make it physically difficult to move through a space and use it optimally. As found by Ferrari and his team, clutter can get in the way of your relationships, but it can also affect your peace of mind, and even trigger anxiety and stress.

Clutter Is About Emotional Connection

Researchers at Yale found that the more clutter you have at home, the more burdened you feel by the anticipated loss of these possessions. In one 2002 study, they found that while women sorted out excess possessions, their stress hormones levels rose. They have also discovered that living in a disorganized, messy environment leads to more distraction and less productivity.

The Connection Between Clutter and Dirt

Clutter has powerful psychological consequences, but it can also lead to to the build-up of dirt, mold, and even food hidden beneath piles of books and furniture. Pet dander and dust mites are known allergens, which can interfere with your respiratory health as well as your mental well-being. It is well known, for instance, that allergy is linked to both depression and suicidal behavior. Mold needs to be regularly addressed via cleaning, and even simple homemade solutions of vinegar and water can be highly effective. Mold tends to appear in humid, dark areas such as the bathroom and basement – and the latter can be a particularly popular area to hoard and keep excess items. In essence, keeping a home clean is much easier in spaces leaning towards minimalism rather than over-abundance.

Clearing Out The Air

If a big clean is underway, know that you and others can benefit in many ways. For instance, you can donate unwanted items in good condition, thus paying it forward and making someone else happy. Doing so can give you a big boost, and you don’t have to give away all your treasured possessions. Once your home is free of clutter, a good clean-up will then help you feel that you are taking care of yourself. When ridding yourself of clutter and embarking on a deep clean, take each possession and ask yourself if it truly gives you joy, or if you really need it in order to carry out your daily tasks. If the answer is no, it may be an ideal candidate to go to charity or to be sold. Living in well-ordered, clean spaces that do not harm your physical health has a powerful effect on your mental health as well, freeing you of attachment to possessions, and reducing the stress and depression associated with dirt and allergens.