An Uncluttered Home Supports Wellness and Reduces Chaos
When your home is in chaos, your mind is in chaos.
When your mind is in chaos, your home will follow.
We spend our lives trying to find balance and reduce stress. We look at food, exercise, meditation, yoga, walks, vacations, and everything in between. Each of those things is a component of a person’s mental well-being, of course. But if you do all of that, and yet come home every day to a home that drains your energy, all of your hard work becomes undermined.
Our homes are the space that supports all of those other things.
It is impossible to maintain a healthy mental state in a cluttered home.
Depression and anxiety are increasing in prevalence throughout The United States. GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. GAD often co-occurs with Major Depressive Disorders.
With so few affected adults actively treating their anxiety and depression, it’s important to identify other ways to reduce their vulnerability to those often-debilitating concerns.
Whether you live in a tiny efficiency (mine in college could have fit in my current bedroom), or a 5,000 square foot home, the space you live in affects your emotional state.
54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, but 78% have no idea what to do with it.
When you feel overwhelmed by your home, you may experience any or all of the following.
- Become less productive.
- Are more distractable.
- Have increased emotional vulnerability.
- Have reduced resources to cope with life.
- Struggle with decision-making.
- Feel shame over the state of your home.
- Judge yourself and fear the judgements of others.
All of these impact vital areas of life that we attach our self-perceptions to, including but not limited to the following.
So, let’s take a closer look at these areas, mental health, and clutter.
Productivity and an Uncluttered Home
People are more productive, as well as less irritable and less distracted in a clutter-free space.
We value productivity as evidence of our own value or worth. When you feel inefficient and scattered you feel “less-than”, don’t you? Less worthy, less worthwhile, even less lovable, than all of those other people you think have their act together better than you.
Americans spend an average total of 2.5 days a year looking for misplaced stuff.
When your home is in disarray, it naturally follows that you will struggle to find things. The time spent looking for something like your keys, glasses, or the remote control, let alone larger items, could be spent in something like self-care or time with loved ones.
Getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework in the average home.
I’ve experienced this myself. When I decluttered my home the first time, it took me a while to realize how much time I had given myself. I was so surprised by this outcome that it was months before I stopped remarking on it after every meal clean-up. It’s pretty logical, though, isn’t it? The less stuff there is to clean or to work around, the less time it takes to care for it.
Health and an Uncluttered Home
People who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to have sleeping problems.
We require sleep, good sleep, to be the best version of ourselves we can be. With interrupted or insufficient sleep, we’re more likely to be irritable, and to struggle in decision-making.
When you are already struggling with mental health concerns, lack of sleep will increase the struggle. Doing anything you can to assure good sleep can be vital to your health. Sleep is when your mind works to process information (during REM sleep) and when other systems slow down so that vulnerable ones can get more attention for healing.
When in cluttered spaces, people are more likely to make poor eating choices. Those with extremely cluttered homes are 77% more likely to be overweight.
It will come as no surprise that obesity is on the rise in this country, as that fact has been in the media for decades. What most people don’t consider is how the state of your home might affect your eating choices.
If your kitchen is in chaos, you aren’t likely to want to cook in it. So, it becomes easier to eat frozen meals, fast food, or whatever Door Dash will bring you.
Weight issues coincide with mental health issues, low self-esteem, and higher incidences of self-criticism.
Finances and a Cluttered vs an Uncluttered Home
When we talk about clutter and mental health we have to talk about money, too. 78% of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck. (source)
And yet… The average American spends $18,000 per year on non-essential items.
On the whole, Americans are in credit card debt above and beyond their means and income. The stress of finding ways to pay bills increases anxiety and depression. Interestingly enough, even the weight of wealth, and the social pressures that come with it, also lead to anxiety and depression. I see both scenarios in clients every day.
Americans collectively spend $2.7 billion dollars every year replacing the items they can’t find.
That’s what happens with clutter. You can’t find it, so the easiest thing to do is to go out and buy another one. That’s how I ended up finding five rolls of packing tape during my own decluttering journey, even though I rarely mail packages.
But think about the financial pressures this could cause when it isn’t something as small as packing tape?
Heck, what if you can’t even find the bills you need to pay because of clutter (paper or digital)? Financial pressures lead to stress, which leads to increased vulnerability to mental illness.
What You Can Do
According to the Mayo Clinic, those who described their homes as being restful or talked about their beautiful outdoor spaces were less stressed and reported less sad feelings as the day went on.
In short: an uncluttered home reduces stress and sadness.
In addition to decluttering and organizing you do need to take care of yourself overall to reduce your vulnerability to mental health issues. This will also increase your resiliency during those stressful situations that lead to mental health concerns.
Ideas for self-care include the following.
- Work on a healthier sleep routine.
- Work toward healthier eating habits.
- Get more exercise.
- Spend more time outdoors.
- Put your phone down more often.
- Reduce your scheduled obligations.
- Plan fun events with loved ones.
However, doing all of that will only get you so far.
You need to have a calm and peaceful home environment to allow all of your self-care to truly take root and set you on a path to healing.
A decluttered home can lead to better focus, higher self-esteem, better relationships, lower risk of asthma and allergies, and improved lifestyle and well-being.
If you’re struggling to gain control over your own home or find yourself so overwhelmed you don’t know where to start, seeking the support of a professional like a therapist or coach, can help give you direction, while addressing the emotional causes of your clutter.
Often my Decluttering Coaching clients are those who have been in therapy and feel like they’ve taken care of most of the big stuff, but have a cluttered home hanging over their head.
My Coaching clients are generally intelligent, educated women. Many of them, technically, have the skills to declutter and organize their homes. But the way they run their lives, and the chaos they live in makes it too hard to for them to make progress without coaching support.
Whether you use books, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, a coach, a therapist, or articles like this one to help you live a decluttered life, be gentle with yourself. Remember that we’re all struggling. Clutter is just a symptom, it does not define you.
Kate Evans is the owner of Soulful Space, a virtual life coaching and decluttering company. Kate helps overwhelmed women declutter their lives and homes. She has worked in the field of psychology since 2004, is an RYT-200 certified yoga teacher, and a writer currently working on a book bringing self-help and decluttering together for lasting change. To learn more about Kate, the work she does, and to read her weekly blog for your mind, body, soul, and space, go to www.soulfulspacecoaching.com. Kate can also be found on Instagram and Facebook @soulfulspace.coaching.