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The Mental Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning: How Clutter Affects Your Wellbeing

Errolie Sermaine - 5th May 2023
Mental Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning

I recently donated a bag of books to a local charity shop and after twenty minutes of browsing ended up leaving with another bag of new ones. This has become a regular occurrence – the urge to declutter, the stuffing of unused or unwanted items into a bag for life and the ‘charity shop crawl’ handing over whatever they’ll take. The sense of relief at having got rid of ‘stuff’ combined with the joy of knowing that I have helped a charity leaves me somewhat calm and pleased with myself. Why then, do I instantly undo it by buying more stuff that I’m almost certain I don’t need?

 

We all know what it’s like to live with clutter. It can be overwhelming, stressful, and even make it difficult to concentrate. But did you know that clutter can also have a negative impact on your mental health? In fact, clutter has been found to have several negative effects on mental health. One of the most significant impacts is on our stress levels. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who lived in cluttered homes had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who lived in tidy homes. Elevated cortisol levels have been linked to a range of health problems, including depression, anxiety, and even heart disease.

 

Clutter can also have a negative impact on your mood. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that cluttered homes were associated with lower levels of life satisfaction and higher levels of feeling overwhelmed. Clutter can also make it more difficult to relax and unwind at the end of the day, making it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Being surrounded by clutter has also been found to lead to procrastination. When we’re surrounded by clutter, it’s easy to become distracted and put off tasks that need to be done. This can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety, which can further impact our mental wellbeing.

 

Spring cleaning is an opportunity to declutter your home and your mind. When you clear out the clutter, you create space for new possibilities and opportunities. Here are some of the ways that spring cleaning can benefit your mental health:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety: When you clear out clutter, you create a more organized and tidy space. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, as you feel more in control of your environment.
  • Increased productivity: Clutter can make it difficult to focus and get things done. By clearing out the clutter, you create a more productive space that allows you to get things done more efficiently.
  • Improved mood: When your environment is clean and tidy, it can improve your mood and make you feel more positive about life. This can be especially true if you’re living with depression or other mood disorders.
  • Better sleep: When your environment is clutter-free, it can be easier to relax and unwind at the end of the day. This can lead to a better night’s sleep and improved mental health.

 

So, if you’re ready to start spring cleaning, here are some tips to help you get started:

Set realistic goals: Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Start with one room or one area of your home, and work your way up.

Get rid of what you don’t need: Be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of clutter. If you haven’t used it in the past year, it’s probably time to let it go.

Donate or recycle: Many items can be recycled or donated to charity, which can make you feel good about decluttering and help others at the same time.

Create a system: When you’re decluttering, it’s important to have a system in place. Create three piles: keep, donate/recycle, and throw away. This will help you stay organized and on track.

Enlist help: Spring cleaning can be a big job, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get your family or friends involved, or hire a professional cleaning service if you need extra assistance.

Take breaks: Decluttering can be physically and mentally exhausting, so make sure to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge.

Maintain your space: Once you’ve completed your spring cleaning, try to maintain your new clutter-free environment. Make a habit of regularly decluttering and organizing your space to prevent clutter from building up again.

 

Spring cleaning isn’t just about making your home look nicer; it’s about improving your mental health and wellbeing. Clutter can have a negative impact on stress levels, mood, and productivity, but by decluttering your home, you create space for a more organized and positive environment. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter, consider taking some time to spring clean and reap the mental health benefits.

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Author Biography:

Errolie Sermaine is a BACP and NCS Accredited Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor. Since qualifying she has run a successful private practice and worked for a variety of organisations. She is also a fully qualified teacher and trainer with a wealth of experience of designing and delivering a huge a range of courses. Passionate about training counsellors, she has been the Clinical Supervisor for several Professional Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling courses, as well as the Designated Safeguarding Lead and Curriculum Manager for an Outstanding adult education provider.
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Please note that all beliefs, views and opinions expressed within guest writer articles are solely those of the guest writer and do not reflect the beliefs, views and opinions of London School of Counselling, this website or its affiliates.
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