We just loved this article by Kylie Browne so much we had to post it! Thank you Kylie for this, it is just so true!
Everyone has some degree of clutter in their lives, but when clutter becomes unwieldy, it can actually start taking a toll on both your physical and mental health. Decluttering isn’t just a way to take control of your physical space; it’s also a way to achieve happiness.
Here are a few reasons why decluttering your home can actually improve your emotional outlook.
1. Your Brain Is Not Made for Clutter
Do you know what’s lurking around in your clutter? In your home, it’s probably nothing more than some unclean socks at worst, but in the wild, it could be all sorts of dangers. The human brain is simply not a fan of clutter. In terms of your brain, simpler is better: there’s less to focus on and, inherently, fewer dangers around.
Clutter has a negative impact on psychology. It can make us feel stressed out, depressed, and anxious. And it isn’t just about immediate dangers (are there snakes hiding in those boxes?). Clutter hides dirt and decay; it can be an unhealthy environment. Your mind and body both know this and it will remain uncomfortable until you resolve the situation.
When you’re in a room that is heavily cluttered, you are going to be constantly distracted with a variety of things. Your brain won’t have one thing to focus on: instead it’ll be focusing on dozens of things, even subconsciously. Something as simple as a stack of books on the other end of the room could actually be weighing heavily on your mind.
2. Decluttering Is a Form of Physical Release
Why do we collect things? When we’re depressed, why do we go on spending sprees? Why do we feel the need to collect large amounts of items? Why are we sentimental? The truth is that we usually aren’t collecting “things.” Our clutter is usually an assortment of emotions and memories; these are things that we truly care about, even if the thing that we really care about is largely intangible.
And because of this it can actually make decluttering physically painful. To get rid of things – even things that we don’t need and things that are distracting us – will hurt. This makes us very reluctant to get rid of items, regardless of how useless they are. Of course, when let out of control, this type of behavior can quickly spiral.
Clutter can even become a psychological crutch. You may start worrying that you need an item “just in case,” and you may become paralyzed at the idea of not having it. In this way your clutter will be feeding into your anxiety, and you will become anxious as you contemplate removing it. At this point you’ll have invited a trigger for anxiety into your own home!
But it’s this very same issue that can actually make decluttering feel physically relieving. Once you get through the initial hurdle of pain, you’ll recognize that you didn’t need that item at all; that your emotions, memories, and feelings are still there. Most people will then feel more in control of their own physical space, which will further empower them to continue organizing and decluttering.
3. Clutter Has a Direct Impact on Your Focus
Clutter doesn’t just represent emotions. Clutter can also represent unfinished tasks. Look around at the clutter in your room. How many of them are unfinished projects? Piles of bills? Stack of work that has to be done? How many of them relate to household chores or tasks, such as a cleaning that was left half completed?
When unfinished tasks lead to clutter, your brain will continue to linger upon those unfinished tasks. We may find ourselves easily distracted because we start picking these tasks up again (only to soon abandon them for something else). Or we might simply have a constant, nagging feeling that we are forgetting something.
The truth is that clutter is usually a sign that something has gone wrong. If it isn’t emotional pain, discussed above, it’s because we’ve become distracted and started procrastinating on things that we should complete. Clearing out this clutter isn’t just going to remove these worries, it’s also going to be the first step to ensuring that these chores and activities are actually completed. The less clutter is around you, the less likely it is that you’re “forgetting” something or leaving tasks abandoned.
4. Your Clutter Can Actually Be Unhealthy
Clutter attracts dust, dirt, and even mold. Over time, clutter can impact the air quality in a room, and make it both stuffy and warm. Decluttering can make you happy not only by improving your mental health, but also by improving your overall physical health. This is especially true if you have kids or pets, or live in high traffic areas such as the city.
A decluttered room will be brighter, sunnier, and have superior air flow. Replacing some clutter with plants and opening your rooms to some natural sunlight can have an even better impact. If you’re questioning why you’re feeling slow and sluggish in your own home, this could be the answer why.
It isn’t just that decluttering can make you happy. Keep in mind that having clutter around could actually be the symptom rather than the cause. If you’ve noticed clutter piling up around you, then it could actually be a sign that maybe something isn’t quite right in your life. And that’s not a bad thing. Either way, the answer is to take control!
By taking control of your clutter, you also take control of your state of mind. Slowly but surely, you can improve all areas of your life, starting with this as a foundation.
Are you ready to get started? Follow the steps in our declutter clinic and start releasing unloved, unused things from your home and your life.