Do you often feel overwhelmed and stressed out while trying to relax at home? It might be your clutter’s fault. Studies show that our mental health can be directly affected by the space around us. So if you’re looking for ways to improve your health and overall well-being, it’s time to tackle your Spring Cleaning.
Of course, it’s not just Spring Cleaning that will help you release tension — any cleaning will have the same effects. In fact, some people clean as a de-stressor itself! (We envy them.) But for those people who haven’t mastered the art of keeping tidy, here are some interesting facts that will help motivate you to tackle your “to do” piles.
Clean House = Better Health
A study done at Indiana University found that people with clean houses are healthier than those with messy houses.* In a study of 998 people, participants who kept their homes clean were healthier and more active. They found that house cleanliness is more of a health predictor than neighborhood walkability.
In another study in 2010, it was discovered that women who described their homes as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued and have higher levels of the stress-hormone cortisol.*
A Princeton study found that it is more difficult to focus on tasks when surrounded by clutter because your brain is seeing objects not associated with the task at hand.*
Finally, the National Sleep Foundation found that people who make their beds in the morning were 19% more likely to have regular good sleep, and 75% of people say they get a better night’s rest with clean sheets.*
Why is it so hard to stay organized?
Staying tidy can be a lifelong struggle for many of us. As we grow older, we accumulate more. We buy a house and fill it with stuff. We make more memories and it becomes harder to let go of things of sentimental value. And once we hit a certain point, it feels too daunting to get started.
It’s also easy to think of organizing as a one-time task, instead of an ongoing one. We tackle a closet, then close the door. Six months later, we open the door to find it cluttered again. Unfortunately, it’s just as hard to stay organized as it is to get organized in the first place.
We also struggle to manage our time as we make more commitments in our lives. Jobs, families, friends, hobbies, health — everything demands our attention. It’s easy to let your space slip to the bottom of your priorities. But keeping clean should never be at odds with the rest of your priorities. In fact, it’s the opposite! Keeping clean can release tension and motivate you. Kickstart your life goals by starting with an orderly home.
Tips for a clean and tidy home
While many of us feel anguished that we’re not Marie Kondo, that doesn’t mean we can’t experience the benefits of tidying up. Even small steps in the right direction can help you feel more accomplished and release tension. Here are some ideas to help you start small.
Think of cleaning as exercise
It requires movement to dust, vacuum, wash the dishes, fold the laundry, and wipe down countertops. If you’re always setting intentions to be more active, consider cleaning as a low-impact exercise regimen. You can kill two birds with one stone and improve your physical and mental health at the same time.
Practice mindful cleaning
You don’t have to do yoga or start meditating to practice mindfulness. You can actually do it by cleaning! A Florida State University study found that students who washed dishes mindfully — by focusing on the smell of the soap, the water temperature, and the feeling of the dishes in their hands — felt a 27% decrease in nervousness and a 25% increase in inspiration!** Next time you do a task, take time to really focus on the act of cleaning itself and count that as your mindful minutes for the day.
Take it 30 minutes at a time
Organizing is daunting. Especially when you’re considering your whole home. Instead, set aside 30 minutes to tackle one shelf. Decide what to keep, what to get rid of, and what to move to a different location. Repeat this every day, or a few times a week. Soon, you’ll have a whole cabinet organized! Then 2! Then 3! And so on.
Analyze your ROI
Think of physical space as a commodity. What is that bag of potting mix giving you in return? Avid gardeners will get a lot out of it, but if you’re just keeping it because you might plant something, then you’re not getting much in return on investment (ROI). Get rid of the bag and use that space for something that will give you a higher ROI. And think of ways to maximize your storage to increase your ROI even more.
Increase your charitable donations
In other words, donate your clutter! Clutter is likely the result of simply having too much stuff and not enough space. Go through your belongings and ask yourself, “Is there someone who needs this more than I do?” You’ll not only clean your mess, but you’ll also donate needed items to a good cause.
Remember the feeling of cleanliness
Even with the know-how, it can still be hard to overcome mental barriers to cleaning. It’s completely normal to still feel stuck, and it’s easy to forget how good it feels to be in a tidy place. Kickstart your feel-good memory by watching an organization show like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo or The Home Edit. Read an online organization blog. These things will help you find creative ways to maximize your space within your budget. Get inspired!