If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering, consider this: the average American home has 300,000 items. Society tells you to buy the newest products to make your teeth whiter, your laundry fresher and your phone faster, but all these things have to be stored somewhere.
Those piles of clutter aren’t only in your way; they’re weighing on your mind. They represent chores to do, goals to meet and decisions to make. They take up space in your home and in your day, without moving you towards your most productive, happy self.
A change of seasons is a great time to evaluate your clutter and learn how to declutter effectively. Find out why your stuff might be impacting your stress and your health.
The benefits of decluttering go way beyond making your home look like a Pinterest board. Achieving an organized, home, office, or car greatly reduces stress in your life — imagine always knowing where to find your keys. A study published in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who considered their homes more cluttered or unfinished felt more depressed and had higher levels of cortisol than women who described their homes as more restful.
Stress is kryptonite to a bulletproof lifestyle, but it’s not the only way clutter connects to your well-being. Researchers from Indiana University compared the tidiness of participants’ homes to their physical activity and overall health. More than any other factor they compared, the healthiest and most active participants were those who kept their living spaces clean. Keeping on top of clutter also means there are fewer places for dust and mold spores to hide in your home.
In another study on clutter, people working in a clean environment were more likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar at snack time. This is likely because clutter activates stress, which can lead you to reach for that sugar fix. In 2011, a study at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that having clutter in sight can make it more difficult to focus on a task without feeling distracted. Basically, the more visual stimuli your brain has to take in, the more you stress your brain and limit your processing power.
Everyone has a different clutter battle: those books you haven’t opened since college, that leaning tower of papers by the computer or the maze of abandoned holiday decorations taking over the garage. Over time, the objects you bring into your life can start to overwhelm you but they don't have to.
Next week, follow us into Part 2 when we discuss the different types of clutter, how to eliminate them and stay organized throughout the year.