5 Reasons Why a Clean Space Can Positively Impact Your Mental Health
Health Benefits Of Cleaning
Cleaning might seem like a basic chore, but with numerous benefits to mental and physical health, cleaning is much more than that. Cleaning and having a clean, clutter-free living space has been linked to many positive health benefits including physical fitness, improved focus, sleep quality, and a reduction in stress and anxiety. According to one study from the mobile marketplace OfferUp, 61% of American citizens feel “de-stressed” after tidying up their living spaces. The benefits of cleaning and organizing your space go far beyond bragging rights. Learn more about how cleaning can greatly improve your health!
The Impact of Clutter
There are many reasons why cleaning can benefit your health, but one reason is that having a messy space can actually cause anxiety and stress. Numerous studies, including those from Princeton University and the Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin, have connected disorganization and clutter to confusion, a general sense of feeling overwhelmed, and difficulties focusing on specific tasks.
When your space is disorderly, it impacts you in several ways. The obvious effect of clutter is that it makes it problematic to find what you are looking for. We can lose time and focus on searching for one singular object, and this takes away from time spent working on more productive tasks. Another way clutter affects us is by creating a visual distraction. Even when we aren’t looking for anything, having piles of paper or other things around us can be distracting. For the most part, our brains like order and tend to thrive in an orderly environment. A clean and organized space helps improve focus and productivity, and it can also help improve sleep quality.
Finally, research has shown that people who live in cluttered homes have higher levels of cortisol in their bodies. Cortisol is a hormone that causes anxiety and stress in our bodies. So, if clutter can cause all of these negative effects on our health, what’s the solution? Cleaning!
Cleaning To Reduce Stress And Anxiety
With more time spent at home, it’s vital to make sure that your home is a space where you can feel productive and comfortable. Removing clutter from your home is a great way to begin this journey as it can help you boost productivity and help remove physical triggers for anxiety.
Studies in the Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin and Psychology Today suggest that physical clutter makes it challenging to process information efficiently and can trigger a physical stress reaction, as clutter and messiness have often been linked to higher cortisol levels. When we see untidiness, our brain has to process all of the things we see in our field of vision, but our brain can only process so many things at once. When presented with clutter, our brains get overstimulated and have trouble processing all of the different objects we see. This leaves us completing daily tasks less efficiently and can make us feel overwhelmed and anxious.
Spending ten minutes a day putting your everyday items away and removing items you do not need from your field of vision can make it easier for your brain to process the information in front of you. This can be especially helpful while working from home. According to the Harvard Business Review, a clean workspace or desk can improve workplace productivity. The same rules apply while working at home and creating a clean, designated workspace is even more important while you spend more time at home during the pandemic.
Cleaning For Mindfulness
Reducing clutter isn’t the sole way that cleaning can help reduce stress. The act of cleaning itself is actually a stress-reducing activity. Cleaning is very hands-on, and while you are cleaning, you are forced to step away from work and screens and focus on the repetitive motion of dusting, organizing, or washing surfaces. This allows you to be fully present in the action of cleaning and step away from sources or triggers of stress.
Whether you clean for ten minutes as a break or spend an entire day dedicated to cleaning, it gives you the chance to step away and focus on manual, less arduous tasks. Taking time to clean can also be the time you take to practice mindfulness exercises. Repetitive motions like dusting, vacuuming, and wiping counters are relatively mindless tasks, so it can be a great time to try out breathing exercises and mindfulness exercises.
Cleaning As Exercise
Whether you’re cleaning for ten minutes or 8 hours, cleaning will force you to get up and move around. Experts have long recommended thirty minutes of physical activity a day for optimal health, and cleaning certainly contributes to this. Wiping the counter tops, sweeping, vacuuming the floor, or scrubbing the tub? All of those activities help in burning calories! If you really want to get a workout in, add in lunges between activities and curls with your cleaning bottles! Turn on your favorite cleaning music playlist, grab your cleaning products, and get moving and cleaning!
Cleaning To Improve Sleep
Sleep is a vital way to keep stress levels low and keep you in a good mood. There are many clean sleep trends out there that include nature sound machines, organic sheets, and specific scents to help your sleep, but a simple step can help enhance the quality of your sleep. A clean space can help improve your sleep quality and keep you feeling good! According to a St. Laurence study, the same way clutter can distract you and affect your productivity, it can distract you and impact your sleep. Having an organized space can limit the distractions at bedtime, making it easier to fall and stay asleep. Small actions like making your bed in the morning can be an easy step towards keeping your space clean and improving your sleep, as according to the National Sleep Foundation, making your bed is linked to a more restful sleep later. Better sleep can help keep spirits high and stress low!
References and Resources
The 2019 Spring Cleaning Report
You and your Hormones