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Here’s Why Clutter Causes Stress and Anxiety

If feeling stressed and anxious is your norm most days, your home environment could be playing a major role in how you're feeling. This is at least partly because your home can quickly lose its status as a place of comfort when clutter takes over.

The amount of clutter you can tolerate is based on the individual, but when you reach your tipping point, it can be hugely detrimental for your physical and mental wellbeing. Instead of feeling like a calming environment, your home can become a source of stress in itself.

There’s a super strong link between clutter and stress and anxiety, and some experts have suggested that physical clutter can often be the result of a cluttered mind.

Reducing clutter is a must for minimizing stress and anxiety.

According to research, having a ton of clutter can be strongly linked to high cortisol levels, especially for moms. The opposite can also be true, according to research: a tidy home is more likely to bring happiness.

So, what is it about clutter that causes so much stress?

Here are some super common reasons why clutter can cause serious stress:

It’s Highly Stimulating

Seeing a ton of clutter can stimulate your senses in a big way. It’s not always just visual either — clutter can also have effects on your sense of smell and touch.

The end result? Your senses are on overdrive and it’s super draining. Your focus isn’t where it needs to be since you’re overwhelmed by the stimuli that your clutter is providing. Unsurprisingly, this makes it hugely difficult to relax since you’re surrounded by the stimuli on a daily basis. For those who are familiar with Feng Shui principles, Clutter is a big no-no, largely because it’s a massive energy drainer.

That's not to say you need to empty your home of anything resembling clutter. You can still follow Feng Shui principles by keeping things that strongly resonate with who you are while being a bit more ruthless with items that don't.

It Costs You Time and Money

When you can’t find what you need, it’s super stressful. Decluttering makes it a whole lot easier to know where everything is and to be able to get your hands on it quickly. It’s a huge time suck when you have to spend a ton of time looking for items you can’t find. And that can cause a huge amount of stress in itself.

Sometimes, having too much clutter can actually cost you money too. Mislaid paperwork (especially the financial kind) can fall into this category, along with the need to replace the things you’ve lost in the clutter. If this happens on a regular basis, it’s yet another form of stress that’s directly linked to how much clutter you have.

It Makes You Feel Guilty

A ton of clutter can also cause a lot of guilt. Deep down, you know you ought to be clearing it and getting organized. This stress can be paralyzing and often makes it less likely you actually tackle the situation. You might also be super embarrassed if people stop by your home unexpectedly and encounter your clutter.

It Hinders Your Creativity and Productivity

This is a big one with so many working from home now as a result of the pandemic. Clutter tends to build up in areas that would otherwise be perfect for logical thinking and creative brainstorming. If you work from home some or all of the time, decluttering could seriously boost your output.

According to a study from Princeton University, too much clutter makes it super hard to focus well and be productive. This study used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology to look at the impact of clutter. The results were pretty conclusive: getting rid of clutter was a game-changer for boosting all these areas.

It Reduces Your Sleep Quality

Another big one. If your bedroom is super cluttered, there’s a good chance it’ll affect your quality of sleep. According to research from St. Lawrence University, sleeping in a messy and cluttered bedroom can be a factor in struggling to fall asleep quickly or waking up in the night. Decluttering could help you get a better night's sleep, especially if you have a super disorganized bedroom that may be secretly hindering your sleep patterns.

It Encourages Overeating

You might not assume that clutter has anything to do with what you eat, but research suggests otherwise. According to one study, a chaotic kitchen environment can result in overeating. People ate twice as many cookies compared to those living in an organized and uncluttered kitchen. If you're struggling with snacking and you have a ton of clutter, tackling this could be your secret weapon in avoiding overeating.

You're Less Happy with Life

According to research, a cluttered home helps you see your home in a more negative light, which can also affect how satisfied you are with your life. When you're trying to find more of your happy, ditching unnecessary clutter is a super smart move.

We declutter and reorganize various areas in our home a few times a year. It always results in feeling less stressed, less anxious, and more positive all the way around. Give it a try if it’s not already part of your seasonal routines!


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