There’s Scientific Evidence That Clutter Causes Anxiety

CLUTTER…once thought just to be a sign of laziness is now being discovered to play a monumental part in our overall mental health.

While there are people that can function in chaotic and messy environment, others need things to be precise and meticulous in order to work with ease.

Recently a study was conducted by UCLA’s Center On Everyday Lives and Families.  The study showed that the reaction between clutter, anxiety, and stress is chemical. The study revealed woman who in live messy homes have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone than average.

Psychologists at Princeton University found that a cluttered environment affects your ability to focus.  The mess is also a great source of anxiety and your ability to process information.

“A messy home and/or work environment can lead to more stress and in some cases, the clutter itself can be ‘a significant source of stress.”  this according to psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, who writes for Psychology Today,

Sherrie tells us that there are 8 key components that contribute to clutter causing stress.

  1. Clutter causes a overload of stimuli through our 5 senses (sight, sound, touch, smell and taste).  Making our senses work overtime when it isn’t necessary or important.
  2. The chaos takes our attention and we can no longer focus on our tasks.  clutter takes away our attention because we are no longer focusing on our goals or task at hand and instead we need to take time to focus on the clutter.
  3. It makes it hard for people to relax. Whether they have to physically clean the mess themselves or whether it be a mental taxation on the mind, clutter makes it hard for people to relax.
  4.  Clutter sends our brain signals that our work isn’t done. Our brain thinks that we are never finished when we really could have been done with everything.
  5. All the clutter can also cause anxiety.  Some people become anxious when the don’t know where things are or they are unsure of the last place they laid them.
  6. Mixed emotions are caused by clutter.  For the people that need organization having a cluttered workspace or house can cause embarrassment or guilt.
  7. Sherrie also says that open spaces (free of clutter) allow people to be both creative and productive. So opposite of that a lack of open space would prevent creativity which most know is necessary for thinking and problem soloving.
  8. Clutter can lead to  feelings of frustration or even anger since we can get agitated when we can’t locate things we need in the mess and clutter.

The phycologist doesn’t’ just offer the list of everything that is terrible about clutter, she also has suggestions to declutter and de-stress your life.

  1. Make it a Family affair. Has the clutter  invaded your entire house?  You shouldn’t have to tackle the job alone. Get the entire  family involved by starting with a room everyone uses.  If each person is responsible for a certain section the job can move along quicker.
  2. If you’re single, start with one small area at a time, perhaps a cabinet or closet.  Move on from one small area to another.  This will give you some pride in finishing a job little by little.
  3. Create designated spaces for certain items and supplies you use often.  Then you will be able to find them when you need them quickly and easily.  Try to pick spaces like drawers and closets so that you can close a door.
  4. Cleaning can be fun! Pump up the jams, dance around, work in your pj’s making it more enjoyable makes it feel less like a chore.

Whether you agree with the philosophy behind clutter or not bottom line is.  That the less clutter you have in your life the better you will feel I guarantee it!


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