- 15 Interesting Ways Clutter and Mental Health are Connected
- 15 Ways Clutter and Mental Health are Connected
- 1. Clutter Negatively Affects Your Mood
- 2. Clutter Causes Higher Stress Levels
- 3. Clutter Depletes Your Energy
- 4. Clutter Makes You Feel Control
- 5. Clutter Can Lead to Negative Feelings
- 6. Clutter Can Produce Cluttered Thoughts
- 7. Clutter Makes Decision-Making and Recall Difficult
- 8. Clutter Causes Distraction
- 9. Clutter Makes it Difficult to Focus
- 10. Clutter Affects Your Ability to Process
- 11. Clutter Can Lead to Anxiety
- 12. Clutter Can Breed a Lack of Self-Control
- 13. Clutter Encourages Unhealthy Eating
- 14. Clutter Can Bring About Lower Self-Worth
- 15. Clutter Can Lead to Depression
- The Psychological Benefits of Decluttering
- Start Decluttering Your Home Today
- 12 Surprising Ways Clutter Is Ruining Your Life [Infographic]
- Clutter Harms Your Health
- 1. Clutter increases your stress
- 2. Clutter wrecks your diet
- 3. Clutter triggers respiratory issues
- 4. Clutter threatens your safety
- Clutter Hurts Your Relationships
- 5. Clutter jeopardizes your love life
- 6. Clutter upsets your kids
- 7. Clutter isolates you
- Clutter Derails Your Career
- 8. Clutter prevents you from getting promoted
- 9. Clutter makes you miss work
- 10. Clutter decreases productivity
- Clutter Drains Your Wallet
- 11. Clutter encourages bad spending habits
- 12. Clutter keeps you in debt
- Ready to live an uncluttered life?
- Choose a city to learn more about MakeSpace in your area:
- Massive Psychological Effects of Clutter, According To Science
- Here’s why we have clutter, to begin with
- That makes the process of decluttering very painful for many people
- Our belongings have big mouths
15 Interesting Ways Clutter and Mental Health are Connected
Did you know that there’s a huge connection between clutter and mental health? Often times, clutter affects us more than we realize. Clutter can affect our mood, our thoughts, and even our behaviors.
For me, the effects of clutter on the mind were pretty clear. Even though I struggled with depression for as long as I can remember, I knew that the clutter in my home was making it worse.
I began to declutter my life, from decluttering my mind, to my schedule, and finally to decluttering my home. Decluttering my life positively affected my mental health in so many ways!
I quickly saw why decluttering is important. Decluttering my home helped ease my constant feelings of frustration, overwhelm and defeat. And, eliminating clutter from my home allowed me focus, regain some energy, and be more productive.
15 Ways Clutter and Mental Health are Connected
The more I read about the effects of clutter on mental health, the more I realize I am not alone. I didn’t have a special issue with clutter; clutter is an issue for everyone.
It’s time that we all learn the negative effects of clutter and simply owning too much stuff. When we know how clutter really affects us, it works as a great motivation to begin decluttering.
Here are 15 ways clutter and mental health are connected:
1. Clutter Negatively Affects Your Mood
We all know this already, don’t we?!
Clutter around us absolutely has the ability to make us cranky. Seeing all of the things that are constantly in our way or consistently requiring our attention can leave us feeling frustration.
When we are frustrated by all of the clutter around us, we become irritable. And, when momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
2. Clutter Causes Higher Stress Levels
Clutter is literally known to increase stress levels. Seeing clutter around us causes us to constantly see an insane amount of stuff that must be dealt with, and soon.
Our stress levels are important to monitor, because stress can have a huge toll on our body, thoughts, feelings, and even behavior. The effects of stress can lead to larger problems such as anxiety, depression, or high blood pressure.
3. Clutter Depletes Your Energy
Clutter depletes your energy in more ways than one. Having excess stuff in your home can drain your energy both mentally and physically!
Clutter saps your energy mentally and physically by requiring much of you. Anything that is taking up unnecessary space and isn’t providing enough value is clutter.
When you have a cluttered home, it requires that you spend a lot of time and energy working around these items or caring for them. Clutter also requires that you spend a great deal of time thinking about or even worrying about stuff that doesn’t deserve that much mental capacity!
4. Clutter Makes You Feel Control
When clutter elevates your level of stress, it tends to make you feel completely control. There is simply too much stuff in your home, and there are only so many hours of the day.
Letting your home get cluttered, even if slowly over time, shows you that you haven’t been intentional about what comes into your home. Feeling control can leave you discouraged and unsure of how to reverse what has already been done.
5. Clutter Can Lead to Negative Feelings
All of these effects of clutter already mentioned can leave you feeling negative about yourself and your home.
You may feeling defeated when you look around and see the amount of stuff you’ve accumulated. Feeling negative about your ability to do anything about the clutter or to change your habits can leave you feeling utterly hopeless.
Or, maybe you feel overwhelmed by all that has to get done. Negative feelings about your home won’t allow you to enjoy your home. Your home should be a sanctuary for you and your family, but it can quickly become a place that you avoid.
6. Clutter Can Produce Cluttered Thoughts
All of these negative feelings can begin to clutter your mind. You may dwell on the negative, or even begin having untrue thoughts about yourself.
In addition, just the amount of mental capacity that you give to your clutter can get control. Clutter doesn’t deserve a place in your home, so it doesn’t deserve a place in your mind either.
7. Clutter Makes Decision-Making and Recall Difficult
Have you ever experienced decision fatigue? I know I have, and it isn’t fun.
Clutter can make decision fatigue happen so much more frequently. The excess amount of stuff around us makes us overwhelmed, making it difficult for us to make decisions or even to know where to start.
Even more alarming is that mental clutter is a primary suspect in the cause of memory loss related to age. A disorganized mind makes it extremely difficult to remember important information when we need it.
8. Clutter Causes Distraction
Clutter also makes it easy to get distracted, because it’s visually disruptive.
We may be working on something else that’s more important, or simply trying to spend quality time with our family. But, we keep getting distracted by the clutter and the mess.
Clutter keeps mentally pulling us away from what is most important to us!
9. Clutter Makes it Difficult to Focus
Not only that, but clutter makes it really hard to focus. We keep getting pulled this way and that way until nothing gets done well.
A lack of focus makes it nearly impossible to be productive and get things done around the house. Even more, a lack of focus keeps us from fully investing in what (and who) is important to us!
10. Clutter Affects Your Ability to Process
Did you know that clutter actually makes you inefficient at processing visual information? Seeing the clutter all around us literally causes visual overload.
According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. in her article on Psychology Today, “it’s actually harder to read people’s feelings when your visual surroundings are filled with random stimuli.”
How quickly and accurately we process visual information decreases when we are surrounded by clutter. It makes sense. Too much around us distracts us and keeps us from focusing as much as we need to in order to mentally process well.
11. Clutter Can Lead to Anxiety
It’s no surprise, then, that clutter can actually lead to anxiety. Clutter can leave us overwhelmed, nervous, and anxious. Left unchecked, it can actually increase our heart rate and leave us breathing heavily (both signs of anxiety).
Many of the negative effects of clutter that I’ve mentioned already are actually symptoms of anxiety! A lack of energy, trouble concentrating, excessive worrying, and avoiding places that trigger anxiety, are all symptoms of anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you’re thinking, my house gives me anxiety!, it’s time to make some changes so that your home becomes the sanctuary it was meant to be for you.
12. Clutter Can Breed a Lack of Self-Control
Beyond the negative effects of clutter on our feelings and thoughts, it can can ultimately affect our behaviors. Much of the time it’s actually our unhealthy thoughts and feelings that lead to unhealthy behaviors.
Because of this, consistently feeling inadequate or control is the perfect breeding ground for a lack of self-control. We may feel that nothing will every change so why even try, leading to more self-destructive behaviors.
13. Clutter Encourages Unhealthy Eating
One behavior that clutter has been known to negatively affect is our eating habits. In fact, clutter is tied to both overeating and undereating. It just depends on our personal response to stress and overwhelm.
Feeling control in terms of clutter encourages unhealthy eating. An Australia-US study found that people will eat more in an environment that’s stressful, chaotic, disorganized, or messy.
14. Clutter Can Bring About Lower Self-Worth
Having a cluttered home can leave you feeling embarrassed or even ashamed. You may not want to invite even the people who are close to you over to your house. Or if you do, you find yourself constantly apologizing for the state of it.
Additionally, the feelings of defeat and hopelessness that I mentioned earlier can leave you with a lower sense of self-worth. It can feel you really messed up and you can never change. Although that ABSOLUTELY isn’t true, it is a common sentiment.
15. Clutter Can Lead to Depression
Because of all of the negative effects of clutter on mood, thoughts and behavior, an excessive amount of stuff in your home can eventually lead to depression.
You won’t necessarily end up here, but as I mentioned with anxiety, many of the symptoms of depression are similar to how clutter affects you.
Difficulty concentrating, recalling information and making decisions are effects of clutter but are also potential symptoms of depression. Additionally, feeling helpless or hopeless, unhealthy eating habits, and even constant headaches can be signs of depression.
So, does clutter lead to depression or does depression lead to clutter?
I’m not positive, but what I do know is this: eliminating clutter from my home resulted a healthier mental state for me and my family.
The Psychological Benefits of Decluttering
After learning about all of the negative effects of clutter, remember that the opposite is true when you declutter your home and life.
Eliminate clutter from your home to reap these incredible decluttering benefits:
- Feeling more freedom and joy in your home and life
- A greater sense of calm and control
- The removal of unnecessary stress
- More energy for whatever is important to you
- Increased ability to focus and process information
- A clearer mind so you can make better decisions easily
- Feeling empowered and hopeful
Isn’t the psychology of decluttering so interesting?
Start Decluttering Your Home Today
Now that you know the key ways clutter and mental health are connected, it’s time to make a decision. Will you begin decluttering your life?
If you’re ready to declutter your home and begin reaping these amazing benefits, make sure you grab your decluttering checklist by becoming one of my email insiders!
Decluttering your home has many positive effects on your life beyond just the mental ones. Decluttering (and keeping it that way) also positively affects your space, time, and even money.
Use my decluttering checklist to keep track of your progress as you move from room to room. When we track our progress, it helps us stay motivated by seeing how far we’ve come!
Decluttering my home helped me stop feeling constantly frustrated, overwhelmed and defeated. And, I was better able to focus, have more energy, and be more productive.
If you’re me and clutter is affecting you more than you realized, use what you know about the connection between clutter and mental health to motivate yourself to start (or finish!) decluttering.
Don’t forget to stick around to check out the next posts in the “Mental Health Awareness Month” series:
5 Mindsets to Declutter (PLUS How to Change Your Mindset!)
Coping Strategies for the Highly Sensitive Person
Which negative effects of clutter could you resonate with? Share with us in the comments!
Talk soon, Sheila
12 Surprising Ways Clutter Is Ruining Your Life [Infographic]
Last updated December 15, 2017
Clutter is bad for your health. Clutter increases creativity. Clutter ruins productivity. Clutter damages your relationship.
You’ve heard a lot about clutter. It can get confusing. Now it’s time to get the hard facts on how clutter affects your life.
But first, what is clutter?
According to Dictionary.com, the noun “clutter” means “a disorderly heap or assemblage; litter.” As in “It’s impossible to find my keys in all this clutter.”
Now back to getting the hard facts:
We analyzed various studies on clutter and hoarding. We spoke to psychotherapists, physicians, and professional organizers to learn more about the psychological reasons for clutter and its negative effects.
We then created a clutter infographic. All so you can finally decide if you have a healthy or unhealthy amount of stuff in your home.
Here’s how clutter affects your physical and mental health, relationships, career, and finances:
Copy the code below to embed our clutter infographic on your site:
Click any of the links below to jump to a specific section:
Clutter Harms Your Health
Clutter Hurts Your Relationships
Clutter Derails Your Career
Clutter Drains Your Wallet
Clutter Harms Your Health
Your apartment isn’t the only thing affected by over-accumulation of stuff. Clutter also has proven, tangible effects on your mental and physical well-being.
1. Clutter increases your stress
According to a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people with cluttered homes full of unfinished projects were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.”
The study also mentions that cortisol’s failure to decline normally over the course of the day has “been associated with greater chronic stress, disease progression, and even mortality risk.”
2. Clutter wrecks your diet
A study in Psychological Science found that participants in an orderly environment chose healthier snacks than those in a cluttered environment.
“Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you’re more ly to resort to coping mechanisms such as choosing comfort foods or overeating than if you spend time in neater surroundings,” explains Dr. Eva Shalhoub.
3. Clutter triggers respiratory issues
According to the Alliance for Healthy Homes, cluttered homes often contain more dust, which can cause or amplify breathing problems.
As more things pile up, more dust is generated. This creates the ideal living environment for pests dust mites.
The harder it gets to access different areas of the home to clean, the more serious these respiratory issues become.
4. Clutter threatens your safety
The Mental Health Association of San Francisco warns that excessive amounts of clutter — especially cardboard boxes, paper, and clothing — can block doorways and windows, creating a serious fire hazard.
Clutter Hurts Your Relationships
If you share your home with others, excessive clutter is no longer just a “you” problem. Clutter in your home can also negatively impact the lives of your significant other and kid(s).
5. Clutter jeopardizes your love life
People with hoarding disorder persistently have difficulty getting rid of things because of a perceived need to save them. They also feel distressed at the thought of parting with their belongings. This can take a toll on one’s marriage, as studies have shown that compulsive hoarders have higher rates of divorce.
Clutter’s negative impact on marriage is not limited to hoarders. “Spouses of a cluttered person who are bothered by the condition of the environment express their discomfort in judgment, negative comments, name calling, anger and irritability,” writes Debbie Bowie, a Certified Professional Organizer based in Richmond, Virginia.
6. Clutter upsets your kids
If you have kids, they too can feel the negative effects of a cluttered home. The National Institute of Mental Health found that kids living in a severely cluttered environment often have elevated levels of distress, experiencing less happiness and more difficulty making friends.
7. Clutter isolates you
The cleanliness of your home can affect your desire to invite anyone into it. In a Rubbermaid survey conducted by Russell Research, nearly half of surveyed homeowners said they won’t invite friends over if their home is cluttered.
Try not to go too far in the opposite direction, though.
Living in an overly tidy and controlled environment can also cause stress, which harms your musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, and gastrointestinal system. According to Kellie Rice, Psy.
D., CGP, that level of anxiety makes it hard for someone to leave the house because he/she is so preoccupied with whether or not it’s neat enough.
Clutter Derails Your Career
“If a person doesn’t have control over their home environment, they use work as an escape,” says Connor McClenahan, Psy.D. People with messy tendencies rarely confine their disorganization to just their homes. Meaning that chaos can seep into your professional life, too.
8. Clutter prevents you from getting promoted
A chaotic desk, an untidy briefcase or purse, and an undefined filing system (or no filing system at all) can all have a major impact on your job performance. A CareerBuilder study found that 28% of employers are less ly to promote someone with a messy workspace.
9. Clutter makes you miss work
Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health discovered compulsive hoarding was associated with an average of seven work impairment days per month — more than those reported by participants with other anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders.
10. Clutter decreases productivity
When your environment is cluttered, the chaos inhibits your ability to focus. A study by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute observed that “multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation.”
In other words, a desk strewn with papers, snacks, photos, and pens will probably beat out any kind of productivity you had planned for the day. The research also shows that a clean work environment will help you be more productive, less moody, and better able to process information.
Clutter Drains Your Wallet
A messy home can negatively affect how you manage your finances, leading to poor money management and severe debt. While there are solutions to these issues, being able to find your electric bill is a good place to start.
11. Clutter encourages bad spending habits
When your home is cluttered, it’s easy to misplace things. If you can’t find an item, your yoga mat or your dog’s favorite toy, you might buy a duplicate. This habit, combined with spending a lot of money to hoard items, can get you into debt.
Beat debt with a money management service YNAB.
12. Clutter keeps you in debt
A cluttered home can also make it difficult to locate credit card bills and bank statements. Another lost bill leads to another late payment. Suddenly, you’re dealing with additional fees, higher interest rates, or even collection agencies.
Set up automatic bill pay or create calendar reminders in your phone to ensure you pay your bills on time.
Ready to live an uncluttered life?
Say goodbye to disastrous clutter, and hello to delightful space: Schedule a MakeSpace pickup, pack your stuff, and leave the rest to us.
We’ll pick up your stuff (including large items furniture, skis, and snowboards) and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always know what you have in storage.
When you need something back, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the photos of the items, and we’ll deliver them to you. No headache necessary.
Choose a city to learn more about MakeSpace in your area:
Los Angeles, California
New York City
Massive Psychological Effects of Clutter, According To Science
Nobody has to sell you on the psychological effects of clutter, right? It’s that classic family movie scene where the kids have destroyed the house and the mom’s standing, open-mouthed in horror. There’s a reason those scenes exist. We can all empathize with the idea of feeling defeated by mounds of clutter.
Movie drama aside, there’s a certain peace that comes from letting go of things. When you release painful or stressful belongings from your environment you give yourself a unique opportunity at a fresh start.
Author Tisha Morris refers to clutter as “stagnant energy”. She says, “where there’s clutter in your home, there will be clutter in [you] — either physically, mentally or emotionally.”
I recently went through my closet and removed all of the items that I legit was not wearing. No matter how potentially useful it could have been or how cute it may have looked hanging pristinely on its hanger, if it wasn’t making its way on to my body, it was relocated to a local donation center.
Now when I look at my closet I actually smile. Sometimes I even leave the closet door open on purpose. Weird, I know. But what I’ve found is that having fewer options in this area actually allows me to focus more easily on what to wear and, as a result, I have been making my way my comfy PJ’s a whole lot more often.
It turns out, there’s scientific evidence to support the negative feelings we get when surrounded by clutter and the positive feelings achieved when decluttering. Psychology says I’m not so weird after all!
Here’s why we have clutter, to begin with
There’s a garden variety of reasons we have clutter. Uncontrolled consumer impulses, emotional sentiment, memories of the past, fear of a future need, guilt or obligation, and hope for a future change- are some of the most common.
As emotional beings, we have the tendency to infuse our belongings with emotion. In many ways, we perceive these items as being a part of us or an extension of ourselves.
That makes the process of decluttering very painful for many people
My partner has kept the same pillow since childhood. I’m not going to go into great detail about how gross this twenty-something-year-old pillow is to me or how the required red flannel pillowcase does not match our bedding.
We’ve had many a discussion about said pillow but at the end of the day, aside from being hidden beneath other pillows, it’s not going anywhere.
It’s so important to him that this pillow remains the same that about 10 years ago when the previous pillowcase gave out, he had his grandma sew another the exact same material. Oh yeah.
For him, this pillow is a part of him. It smells him, it looks and feels familiar, and is a part of years of memories. No other pillow will ever feel exactly the same under his head.
Our belongings have big mouths
While our belongings may not all be cherished friends of old, they do tend to say a lot about us. Jessie Sholl, a writer for the health website ExperienceLife.com, proposes that “different kinds of clutter signify different emotional messages.”
For example, if your clutter consists of other people’s stuff then you probably have issues with boundaries. If your clutter is largely memorabilia from your past then you may have trouble letting things go, forgiving, or feel your best days are behind you.
If you’re holding onto unused items you ly have a fear or distrust for the future or wish you were something you’re not. All of those brand new art products you’ve used maybe once? The idea of peacefully passing your time as an artist may have sounded better than the act itself.
You’re going to need your full lifetime to develop into the most badass version of yourself- there’s no time to pretend to be someone you aren’t.
And finally, unfinished projects. Morris says “a lot of times, that stems from perfectionism — it will never be good enough, not perfect enough, so they just won’t finish it.” Unfinished projects are reminders that we have failed at something we set out to do. It’s a downer and an eyesore.
At the end of the day, our homes are a reflection of our minds which is something I dive into (and show you how to totally optimize) in my free masterclass. You can click below to watch it now!