The changing season is a perfect time to take a look at our lives and evaluate what is and isn’t serving us. While there are worse offenses than a messy closet or junk drawer, excess household clutter can actually have negative effects on your mental and physical wellbeing.
We asked our ND, Dr. Jeremy Wolf, about the effects untidiness can have on our lives. “Clutter can become so overwhelming that it becomes a distraction,” Dr. Wolf says. “A recent study revealed that cluttered homes can affect individuals socially and in their careers (1). We can become so overwhelmed with our possessions that the rest of our lives fall by the wayside.”
Unsure if clutter is holding you back? If you’re struggling in any of these areas of life, chances are it might be time to tidy up!
Diminished Productivity and Focus
“Clutter creates chaotic environments that cause stress (2),” Dr. Wolf says. Crowded countertops, unattended piles of junk mail and even the steady stream of notifications on your phone all compete for your attention. These tiny distractions add up throughout the day and lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which can erode your ability to focus.
Solution: Start in your most cluttered room first and tackle it in pieces. For example, take 15 minutes to completely clean out and reorganize the junk drawer in your kitchen or your desk. Consider what documents can live in a digital space instead of camping out on your desk. Making sure every item has a home will make tidying up in the future that much easier. Challenge yourself to declutter for 15 minutes a day to help reclaim your focus and productivity!
Unhealthy Eating Habits
When it comes to eating healthy, Dr. Wolf says, “Research shows a messy kitchen can make you feel out of control, and what you see is ultimately what you’ll eat (3). Meaning, you’ll reach for the cookies if they’re sitting out on the counter before rummaging through the fridge for something healthy.” If your cooking supplies are a jumbled mess, the less likely you are to prepare a healthy meal.
Solution: Reorganize your pantry shelves and cabinets so healthier options are visible and easy to access. Take the time to recycle old, ineffective kitchen supplies and organize the usable ones. Keeping fruit out on the counter instead of buried in the fridge will make you more likely to eat it!
Worsening Allergies and Asthma
Did you ever consider what’s living among your clutter? Excess dust, mold and animal dander can collect in all the extra nooks and crannies—the more items lying about, the harder it is to keep them all clean. This can aggravate allergies and asthma, create a breeding ground for germs and attract disease-carrying critters into your home. (Eek!)
Solution: Aim to keep the knickknacks on your surfaces as minimal as possible—the fewer items to collect dust and germs, the better. Display only what you know you’ll get around to cleaning regularly. As a bonus, add plants to your decor to improve the air quality in your home!
Low Energy and Trouble Sleeping
Researchers have found that people with messy bedrooms had worse sleep quality than those with tidier spaces. “When there are multiple visual stimuli competing for your attention, you have a hard time narrowing your focus,” Dr. Wolf explains. “This also applies when getting a good night’s rest.” Sleep requires a Zen state of mind. A messy room can leave you feeling unsettled and anxious, painfully aware of the daunting cleaning task surrounding you.
Solution: Try to make it a part of your nighttime ritual to ensure dirty clothes are in the hamper, your desk is organized and your vanity is tidied and ready for the morning. You’ll sleep with a clearer head, and your morning routine will be a breeze.
You don’t have to be held back by clutter! Use these tips when tackling your spring cleaning to help you feel refreshed and renewed for the season ahead.