The Relationship Between Clutter and Stress

One of the first areas we need to address as we learn how to have lasting peace is our clutter. Research about the relationship between clutter and stress shows that a cluttered home is linked to procrastination, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and overeating. Seeing piles of clothes, unopened junk mail, loads of laundry, a messy desk or kitchen table, and other disarray really causes most people to feel anxious and overwhelmed, sometimes even depressed. It’s hard to achieve a sense of calm when there’s chaos all around, in the form of physical eyesores or the insidious kind that attacks your mind.

That’s why it’s important to corral the clutter in your life and get your family involved! I know in my house, the kids cause more clutter than I do, and the battle is real. But, taking steps to get control of the disorder is the start of creating calm. Read on, and I’ll tell you more about that.

piles of disorganized books, papers, and toys causing clutter and stress

Clutter and Stress

Each person’s definition of clutter is different. We all have our comfort level when it comes to the amount of stuff we want to have around us and to enter our lives. However, it’s when you begin to have a negative reaction to all of this input that you see the relationship between clutter and stress. At this individualized and personal point, you’re dealing with clutter. Usually, you arrive at this breaking point because the disarray you’re facing finally affects you. Whether you’re feeling closed in and agitated or you’re physically constrained by the mess, it’s time to address the problem.

Benefits of Clutter Control

There are loads of good things that come from controlling the clutter in your world. Cleaning duties lessen because there’s less to clean, less to move, less to maintain. You’ll likely feel an increased sense of energy because you’ll spend less time looking for things you’ve misplaced and will no longer feel as overwhelmed emotionally by your stuff. Reduce clutter and stress goes down. This can lead to greater productivity and getting more done.

Studies even show that folks begin to make improvements in other areas of their lives such as diet and exercise once they lift the “weight” of excess clutter. If you tend toward emotional eating, reducing clutter may be the key that you’re missing. Taking action in this one aspect of your life can have tremendous impact on other areas. Finally, you’ll be much closer to achieving the calm you seek once you start to pare things down.

Start Eliminating Clutter and Stress

The hardest part of ridding your life of clutter is getting started. This is especially true if you’ve lived in chaos for a long time. The good news is that this problem is relatively easy to tackle once you overcome your initial resistance. The best place to start is the one that is causing you the most stress. For example,if entering your messy living room at the end of the day makes the idea of relaxing impossible; begin to clear things out in that room. Having a place to unwind at the end of the day might just be the catalyst you need to motivate you toward clearing out other cluttered places.

Enlist helpers!

It’s also a good idea to enlist help in order to make the process more manageable and less overwhelming. Ask your family or spouse to pitch in. One way to do this is to have bins: to keep, to sell/give away, to throw away. Finally, make sure you actually get rid of anything you don’t use and that you have a a specified “home” for what you decide to keep. When you cut down on the amount of stuff and put things in their place, you’ll find life becomes a whole lot less hectic.

These are just a handful of suggestions for minimizing the clutter. We’ll discover more throughout this challenge. Now that you understand the impact clutter can have on your stress levels, you can start to make some changes of your own.


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