How Clutter Creates Stress

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How Clutter Creates Stress

The organization of our homes impacts our stress and anxiety. Over the past twelve months, Marie Kondo has revolutionized the idea of how to create a harmonious space by eliminating objects that don’t “bring joy.” The popularity of this concept isn’t because of its unique stance, but its ability to strike a chord that too many belongings can make us have negative emotions. But why does this happen?

How Clutter Happens

Professor of psychology at DePaul University, Joseph Ferrari, said, “clutter is an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces.” But why and how does it happen? A New York Times article once investigate the reason why clutter occurs in the home. It researched a few studies that lead them to believe the primary cause of clutter is a result of procrastination. One research team interviewed adults about their tendency to procrastinate. They wanted the participants to respond to how much they agreed with statements such as “I pay my bills on time” to get a clearer picture of how often the participants would put off responsibilities.

What they found is that most of the adults who erred on the side of procrastination for mundane or unpleasant tasks also agreed that they lived in a home that was cluttered. The researchers concluded that procrastination is associated with a cluttered household because it requires homeowners to keep papers filed, items put away, or sort through junk mail. None of which are “exciting.”

The study further researched the well-being of those who claimed that they lived in a cluttered house. Asking the participants to identify how the clutter made them feel, most agreed they were dissatisfied and that it “negatively impact mental well-being.”

Why Messes Lead to Stress

Sometimes it’s not just the home, but the workspace that becomes buried. Those who have cluttered homes may feel anxious and overwhelmed. So, why does it lead to extra stress in our lives?

  • The additional stimuli send our senses into overdrive. The stimulation over things that aren’t important adds emotional weight to our days.
  • Clutter is distracting. When you need to move things around to complete work in the kitchen, home office, or bedroom causes us to lose focus, making us irritable.
  • Knowing there is a pile of bills to file, laundry to sort, or receipts to go through reduces our ability to relax.
  • The sight of clutter sends signals to our mind telling us to work. When it’s spread out around the house, it makes it challenging to turn off our brains.
  • It’s hard to tell just how long sorting through a pile will take and that uncertainty causes some anxiety.
  • The presence of clutter often causes feelings of guilt or embarrassment.
  • Creativity and productivity sometimes suffer when there is too much stuff invading our space, making it harder to problem solve.
  • When it’s hard to find what we need, feelings of frustration escalate quickly, especially when it’s swallowed in a disorderly house.

Decluttering Tips for the House

  1. Declutter as a group. Don’t let the responsibility fall on your shoulders. Get everyone involved to help make decisions about organization and to move the job along.
  2. Give items that are frequently used better real estate. That means, make it convenient to access tools, cooking equipment, or other belongings that you need on a regular basis.
  3. Anything that you don’t use that is broken, or you don’t want anymore can be tossed or donated. Belongings that haven’t been used in the last year should probably go.
  4. In your workspace, you can buy folders or trays to access files when you need them.
  5. Random papers are probably the biggest culprit. Train yourself to toss anything that is not important.
  6. Before you leave your kitchen, living room, or office — clean your area. It will remove the stress of having to clean it later.
  7. Practice putting things back in their place after immediate use. As simple as this step sounds, it can be a hard skill to learn.

Get Organized with Custom Storage

One reason homeowners struggle with clutter is they don’t know how to organize or lack the proper tools. That’s where The Closet Co. comes in. We are expert organizers that design and create spaces tailored to your needs. From closets to garages, and everything in between, we offer custom organization solutions that make it simple to have a beautiful, clean home.

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