Do you find it difficult to keep your living space tidy and organised? We’ve all been there - the washing basket is overflowing, your desk is hidden under a pile of paperwork, and you can’t find your keys under the mountain of mess on the kitchen table. Sound familiar? With busy work schedules and family life taking up most of our energy, it’s easy to let things slip when it comes to household maintenance. But while it might not seem like it, our environment plays an important role in our mental wellness, and keeping a clean home, whether that’s your bedroom, apartment or house, has a variety of benefits you won’t want to ignore.
Can clutter negatively impact our mental health?
Research has revealed that our physical environment directly affects our emotional well-being. Essentially, if we are constantly surrounded by an overwhelming amount of clutter, our mind will start to mimic the physical space we are living in. Have you ever noticed that when you’re trying to work in a messy environment you struggle to concentrate? This is because when the brain’s visual cortex is overwhelmed by irrelevant objects, it becomes harder to focus on the immediate task at hand.
A cluttered space can:
- Increase stress
- Increase likelihood of procrastination
- Lower self-esteem
- Make it hard to focus
So, what can we do?
Having a cluttered space can feel really overwhelming and I can hear you thinking “where do I even begin?!” - but knowing that a clean space can positively impact your mental health is the first step towards achieving that. Taking the cleaning process one step at a time will get you there, and once you know all the positive ways a clean environment will help your body and mind, you might just be more willing to get stuck in.
Here are just a few of the positives from having a declutter -
- Increased productivity - When you're not worried about messy surroundings, your mind, energy and hands are free to work on the tasks that you actually need to get done, whether that’s work, taking care of yourself, or taking care of your family.
- Heightened focus - When you're not concentrating on the mess around you, you can focus on important tasks like work instead. A clean space can even make it easier during leisure time.
- Decreased stress - When you’re not surrounded by clutter, your cortisol levels are lower. And because moving your body is good for decreasing stress, you can even amp up your cleaning by putting on some music and really having fun with it. This gets your heart pumping, which releases endorphins, the chemical in your brain that eases stress.
- Regulated emotions - The act of cleaning requires us to slow down, which can offer a calming effect during overwhelming situations and help us explore and manage our emotions.
- Better sleep - Your home should be a serene place of sanctuary which is always calming and relaxing. You will struggle to get a good night’s sleep if you are surrounded by mess and madness constantly! In the same way that physical activity eases stress, it can also help you sleep better. When you clean and get your heart pumping you've got endorphins running through your body which can also lead to better sleep at night.
Ultimately, having a clear space helps us to work and think more efficiently, which subsequently benefits other areas of our lives. So if you’re ready to improve your productivity, focus and clarity when working through different tasks, you may benefit from getting organised.
How do we get started?
Should you be someone that lacks cleaning or organisational skills then don’t worry, I’ve got some tips you can incorporate into your life to obtain mental health benefits. Eventually, these practices will become natural to you and you won’t even think about having to do them.
- First things first: have a clear out. Declutter by recycling, selling, or donating unneeded items.
- Pick a room and set a 10 minute timer on your phone. Go hard out in that room tidying and decluttering for 10 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve in a short time.
- Think of activities that make you happy and see if there's a way to turn them into cleaning activities. Love to dance? Make some moves while you’re hoovering!
- Anytime you buy a new item of clothing, donate one old piece of clothing to charity or to a friend.
- Set non-negotiable tasks. These are the daily tidying and cleaning tasks that you cannot skimp on. For example, include wiping down the kitchen counter, unloading the dishwasher and sweeping the floor. Once your non-negotiables become a habit, chores become part of your day and not an additional stress.
- Take it slow. Be realistic about your energy levels and time constraints while working toward your goal but don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone.
- Try the KonMari method, tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.
- When you’re done with something, put it back.
- Check expiry dates on foods in the fridge and pantry - date checking can be both liberating and scary and help you realise just how much waste you actually have.
- Wash up right after you eat, to avoid an insurmountable pile of dishes.
- Seek help from a professional. A wonderful friend of mine Collectively Organised offers In-home and Virtual Organising Services. Hear some of her decluttering tips in my private community group.
Remember to remind yourself about how good you will feel once your home is clean and clutter free - your mind will truly thank you for it. And if you struggle to get started, use a goal to motivate you. For example, envision yourself having friends over for the dinner party you’ve been wanting to throw, but your cluttered dining room has kept you from following through. Visualising a goal can give you something to work for while you clean.
I get it, cleaning is a chore we’d probably all gladly avoid, but a bit of tidying up each day is a small price to pay for a mental health boost. Not only does cleaning provide a time of focus and mindfulness, but at the end, we’re left with a clean area with room to think and enjoy that space. Chipping away at things in the home gradually but consistently will compound over time, allowing us to feel calmer and more in control of our day-to-day chaos.
If you want to deep dive further into decluttering your life, mind and body, I’m devoting the entire month of March to this topic over in my private community Love Your Life | Rediscovering You. Jump in and join me for some magical practices.