How Clutter Affects Your Health
November 02, 2021
They say, when you have a tidy house, you will lead a happy life. A disorganized environment messes with our brain, and more so, with our perceived feelings. Clutter increases our anxiety levels, makes us lose our ability to focus, and affects our sleep. Thus, it makes us less productive and negatively triggers our emotions, behaviors, and relationships with others. The distraction that clutter brings can reduce our working memory. Imagine working on an important project or workshop in your garage, but you cannot entirely focus on the activity at hand because your eyes get distracted by the mess in your working space. No matter how much you want to finish a task, but if there is clutter that you see, your brain naturally focuses on the mess instead. Our brains work best when there is order. In fact, a study conducted in 2011 by neuroscience researchers shows that decluttering the home and work environment makes us focus better and process information easier, resulting in increased productivity. Another research first published in 2009, “No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol,” whose main subjects were mothers, showed that the women who have more cluttered homes had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They had an increased depressed mood over the course of the day. When you have higher stress levels, it can affect your physical and psychological conditions. We become more prone to illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and mental instability. Moreover, it can significantly affect our relationships because we are unable to interpret emotions and expressions correctly. Sleeping at night can become troublesome as we cannot let go of the disturbances and stresses incurred over time. Obesity or overweight problems are also linked to a cluttered environment. In the study, “Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food Environments,” 101 female undergraduate students participated under standard kitchen conditions or in chaotic kitchen conditions. The subjects exposed to the latter condition consumed more cookies than those in the in-control mindset condition. The study also adds that “although a chaotic environment can create a vulnerability to making unhealthy food choices, one’s mindset in that environment can either trigger or buffer against that vulnerability.” And in a 2014 research that studies the link between hoarding and various psychiatric conditions, including obesity, “Hoarding and Eating Pathology: The Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation,” it revealed that “hoarding severity was associated with increased body mass index and symptoms of binge eating.” It also talks about how we find it difficult to regulate emotions due to the association between hoarding and eating concerns. An outstanding 77% of people with highly cluttered homes are more likely to be overweight. An Indiana University study links having tidier homes to having fitter bodies. “If you spend your day dusting, cleaning, doing laundry, you’re active,” said Nicole Keith, associate professor in the Department of Physical Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “This will form interventions. They won’t take 30 minutes to go for a walk, but they’ll take 30 minutes to clean.” With all the studies and research involving the relationship between cluttered spaces and overall well-being, they solidify the need to get organized and declutter your homes and work environment. Indeed, decluttering changes lives for the better.