Sunday 16 May 2021
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Does a clean house equal a healthy mind?

Everyone does their best to keep up on household chores and cleaning, but clutter always finds a way to seep back in. It’s as if the pops up out of nowhere, no matter how often you clean. If you are staring down another Saturday’s with cleaning house and laundry featuring significant on your schedule, then there is some news you might find surprising.

Leading psychological research has attributed clutter to stress and anxiety, but recent studies discovered that cleaning up around you actually has a positive benefit on your mental health.

That’s right. If you want to de-stress, then pick up a cleaning cloth and a feather duster.

A messy home has a negative impact on your health. It only makes sense that decreasing the clutter would alleviate your build-up of cortisol, therefore being a healthy habit. However, there’s more to it than just that. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone because of its role in the body’s stress response.

A recent study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine proved that a mere twenty minutes of physical activity was enough to decrease stress levels.

While cleaning isn’t a cure all, it can work wonders on your daily level of stress.

“If you can clean for just twenty minutes a day, you can reduce the impact that stress has on your life. It gets even better, though. Vigorous cleaning (like washing the floors) is an outlet for negative emotions thanks to the energy your burn while scrubbing away,” says Psychologist, Rheece MacKenzie.

“People with the cleanest homes are the most active. While the correlation is unclear, there’s something about clutter that causes people to lose motivation, choosing to sit down in front of the TV instead of go for a walk or hit the gym,” he says.

Keeping up with such a rigorous cleaning schedule isn’t exactly easy, though. However, there are steps you can take to make the chore less taxing.

“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 donated,” says Janet, who was suffering from a mild case of depression.

“Now when I look at my closet I actually smile. Sometimes I even leave the closet door open on purpose. That is 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 out of my comfy PJ’s a whole lot more often, which in turn has led to me feeling lighter and less depressed, somehow,” she shares.

“It turns out, there’s scientific evidence to support the negative feelings we get when surrounded by clutter and the positive feelings achieved when de-cluttering. Psychology says I’m not so weird after all,” Janet says jokingly.

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 de-cluttering very painful for many people. While our belongings may not all be cherished friends of old, they do tend to say a lot about us.

“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 like your best days are behind you,” says MacKenzie.

He continues, “if you’re holding onto unused items, you likely have a fear or distrust for the future or wish you were something you’re not.” You’re going to need your full lifetime to develop into the best version of yourself; there’s no time to pretend to be someone you aren’t.

Tidy homes are an indication of “having it together”, especially for women. So, cluttered environments can result in feelings of low self-worth. In fact, disorganised homes are linked to depression.

Sterile environments make us feel uptight but cluttered environments make us feel defeated.

If you’re wanting to create something or move yourself to another level in some area of your life, the very first step should be to get your environment in check. Make sure that your surroundings are supporting the energy and the change that you’re wanting to experience.

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