Sometimes the best way to calm the mind is to clean out the physical clutter in your life. Human psychology has long pointed to the fact that an untidy home or workspace can lead to anxiety, stress, frustration, depression, and more. With television shows like “Hoarders” and “Tidying Up” dominating the airwaves, it’s clear that people are curious about clutter and ways to calm the chaos that often comes with it.
“Whether it’s piles of paper, a sink full of dirty dishes, or loads of laundry left unfolded, clutter can have a psychological and physiological impact on a person,” said Kevin Lopez, MD, a District Medical Group physician at Valleywise Health. “Studies even show that clutter can actually increase the stress hormone cortisol.”
Dr. Kevin Lopez, District Medical Group Physician at Valleywise Health
The American Psychological Association cites cleaning up a cluttered environment – one’s home, vehicle, desk, etc. – as a meaningful way to help alleviate stress. A study published in Current Psychology reports a link between clutter and procrastination. Studies also indicate a correlation between a clutter-free home and overall healthier diet and exercise habits.
If you find that you have to hunt for items around the house, clean the counter before cooking, or just can’t seem to relax because you’re too distracted by your surroundings, then it may be time to tidy up.
Six Simple Tips for Tidying Up
- A place for everything and everything in its place. Have designated areas for the things in your life, preferably behind closed doors or in drawers. Confined spaces require better organization, and keeping items neatly tucked away means they aren’t a distraction.
- Dump, donate, sell, or recycle. If something is broken beyond repair, throw it away or recycle it. If it’s useable or wearable but no longer serves a purpose or appeals to you, donate or sell it.
- Share the load. From folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher, to cleaning the bathrooms or sweeping the floor, keeping a clean and clutter-free home can be a family affair. Not only does dividing and conquering chores lessen the load for everyone, it teaches life lessons about cleanliness and responsibility.
- Dedicate 15 minutes each night to picking up. Beyond putting things away after using them, taking a few minutes each night to wipe down counters, put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and pick up toys goes a long way toward keeping clutter at bay.
- Master your mail. Don’t let bills, magazines, and junk mail pile up. Sort your mail each day and toss or recycle what’s not needed or relevant. Furthermore, organize bills as they come in to help ensure you stay on top of important deadlines and financial matters.
- Store seasonal stuff. There’s no need to stare at holiday lights or have heavy coats dominate your closet in the middle of summer. Pack away items that are only used during certain times of the year. This includes everything from holiday decorations, to clothing, weather-specific sports/recreational equipment, and more.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A doctor at Valleywise Health can connect you with the right resources, such as our mental and behavioral health specialists, for your unique situation. Call 1-833-VLLYWSE (855-9973) to make an appointment today.