Can clutter affect your mental health? {spoiler alert: yes!}

clutter and mental health

Clutter and your Mental Health

Did you know that clutter can affect your mental health? Today’s households don’t do as much entertaining and guests as generations before us. As a kid, we often had drop-in guests, and neighbors who would just stop by to chat. That doesn’t happen anymore. So we may not think about clutter as much as our parents did, because “company isn’t coming.”

But those piles of mail at the front door or clutter on your desk can bother you more than you realize. Whether it’s a loss of focus or being overwhelmed, clutter shouldn’t be ignored. Clutter is excess information. So if you or your child struggle to process excess information, either verbally or visually, it makes sense that clutter would affect your well-being.

But, a lack of organization skills shouldn’t keep you from trying to make your home a more peaceful place.

Negative Effects of Clutter

Distraction and Loss of Focus-How often do you have trouble focusing on a task at hand because your mind keeps drifting back to the clutter around you? Do you often have thoughts about how you need to do something about it? Do these thoughts interrupt your work? A cluttered work area makes it almost impossible to focus on the task at hand. It is harder to complete a task if you spend excess time finding the supplies that you need.

How Clutter can cause Stress.

Stress-Do you find yourself feeling stressed out when you look at the pile of mail in the entryway or paperwork covering the dining room table? If the clutter is eating you up inside, it needs to be dealt with. Clutter and disorganization can lead to late payments on bills, which can create even more stress.

Perhaps you’re just not a big cleaner. I get it. We all have our priorities. However, it still weighs on you. An unkempt household serves as a visual reminder of an ongoing to-do list. And unfinished projects or tasks weigh on you and prevent you from relaxing.

Do you feel overwhelmed?

Being Overwhelmed-Clutter can make you feel overwhelmed to the point that you feel helpless. You may think, “There’s no way I’ll ever tackle this mess.” Those feelings can eventually make you physically sick. The key to not being overwhelmed. Don’t focus on the entire mess.

Choose one small area to tackle. Pretty soon the job will be finished. When a part of my home gets out of control, I remind myself that it didn’t get that way in a day so it won’t be fixed in a day. (Basement, I’m looking at you!)

Clutter can create anxiety.

Anxiety-Do you find yourself having trouble falling asleep because you’re thinking about all the clutter you need to take care of or misplaced items you need to find? Do the thoughts of dealing with it send you into a panic?

Believe it or not, clutter can cause anxiety. Not only do you worry about how it’s affecting your life, but you also worry about how others perceive your home or work space.

Difficulty with Visual Processing

Do you stare at the clutter surrounding you and find it impossible to process what you’re seeing? Do you sit down to work or read and can’t process what you’re trying to accomplish? Not only does clutter take away focus, but you may even find yourself unable to function when it comes to the simplest of tasks, such as writing out a grocery list or reading a novel.

Does your child’s IEP have accommodations for visual clutter? For example, are they supposed to have only one or two test questions per page, so that they can focus? If they struggle with visual clutter with school work, it’s only natural that it would affect them at home as well. Take a look at your home environment from their point of view.

Poorer Thinking and Mental Health

All of these things can cause strain on your mental health. Just like your body needs good hygiene, so does your brain. Allowing things like clutter to overrun your home can lead to mental health problems.

Clutter may seem like a small problem, but it’s worse than you imagined. Clutter can cause stress, anxiety, loss of focus, and even mental health problems. Don’t let this scare you. Instead, let this motivate you to tackle the problem once and for all.

Getting rid of clutter.

Sometimes it can be as simple as cleaning up your mudroom. For many households, this is your entry point to your home, and can set the tone. If things are tidy when you walk in, you’ll want that feeling to continue throughout the house.

Many moons ago, I was a store manager for some major retailers. Periodically, my team and I would walk around the entire store and create a giant to-do list of tasks. Yes, sometimes the lists were so huge it felt like we’d never be done. But, it also is very satisfying to cross items off a clutter list. I still use that technique in my own home today when I am feeling overwhelmed. And, I almost always try to turn my clutter into cash.

Clutter and over eating: There’s a connection!

Dr. Krauss-Whitborne of Psychology Today points out that clutter in your home can actually lead you to eat more junk food! Any time of year is a great time of year to commit to ridding your home of the excess. Here are 4 tips to get started on conquering clutter in your home.

Good luck and remember, Dr. Phil says that “Home should be your safe place to land.” Before you know it, your whole family will be more at ease and relaxed in your home.

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clutter and mental health

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