Updated: May 10, 2021
In 2019, 51.1 million Americans suffered with some form of mental illness. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common forms of mental illness.
While there are often internal reasons for mental health, there are often outside factors that can contribute as well. Drug and alcohol abuse, too much stress, and not enough fun can all contribute to feelings of depression and/or anxiety.
But did you know that clutter is also a contributing factor? And that it can cause other problems in your life? Keep reading to learn three reasons why decluttering can help improve your mental health.
1. Clutter Causes Anxiety and Depression
What's weird about clutter is that it makes us feel safe and secure while at the same time it stresses us out. In fact, studies show there's a direct correlation between clutter and both anxiety and depression.
In women, clutter elevates their cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. Oddly, that same study shows that men aren't as emotionally bothered by clutter and mess.
But men being less bothered and women being more bothered by clutter also causes stress within the household and the relationship.
What You Can Do
Tackle smaller pockets of clutter
Designate a spot for everything (and always return it there when not in use)
Aim to focus on getting yourself decluttered. Often, when you focus on improving only your personal belongings, other members of your household notice the positive change and actively want to participate without you having to ask.
2. Clutter Affects Your Ability to Make Smarter Decisions
The average American has 300,000 items in their home. Most people own over 100 pieces of clothing.
Yet, most women only wear 20-30% of their wardrobe and at least half of them dislike every piece of clothing they own. Men only wear 10-13% of their wardrobe.
Here are a few reasons why:
Shopping is confusing
We don't know how to combine clothing properly
We buy things that don't fit
We buy things for a life we're not living
We don't know how to shop for our body
What this means is that we don't know how to make smart decisions for ourselves. That's because we have too much "mental clutter" and can't properly filter out irrelevant information.
What You Can Do
Mental clutter is also a primary suspect in age-related memory loss. Decluttering forces you to make decisions which helps you build up a very necessary skill to help your brain function better.
Start by sorting everything you own into similar categories. Then go through each item and decide whether you like, need, or currently use the item. If you don't, get rid of it.
3. Clutter Negatively Affects Your Homelife
Your home is reflection of you. It tells visitors how you feel about yourself because of what items you choose to bring into your home.
And your home should be the place where you can rest, relax, and truly be yourself. It should be a source of pride, even if it's a small space.
Too much clutter can make you feel as though your home is at war with your real self, rather than an expression of the best of yourself. Clutter can also lead to poor eating decisions.
What You Can Do
One way to tackle mental clutter is by perfecting the skills you learn by physically decluttering and organizing such as:
Setting boundaries to help you reach those goals
Becoming aware of what/who you're surrounding yourself with and how that impacts your life
Making smarter, better, more empowered decisions
Trusting your instincts
Physical clutter is often an outside expression of what's going on inside your mind. And you deserve to have a quiet mind that loves and respects you.
Getting rid of clutter isn't always an easy task. Often, items remind you of events and circumstances that brings up emotions you don't feel ready to handle.
Feelings of guilt, fear, shame, and exhaustion are not uncommon. And that's okay because decluttering and getting rid of those items will help you rid yourself of some of those emotions.
But it's not always easy to do that without a little help. Start by supporting yourself. You're worth having an organized home! And if you need more help, ask friends, family, and a decluttering expert (me!) for help.