Research Reveals That Clutter Is a Trigger For Stress And Anxiety

Picture this scenario for a little bit: after a long and hard day at work, you are excited to go home and rest. But the moment you open the front door and set foot in your house, it looks as if a hurricane has just wreaked havoc on your home alone.

You have kids with their toys and clothes scattered all over the floor. The kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes and utensils. There’s an empty beer bottle resting on the coffee table in front of the television that is still turned on even though no one is watching. And there might even be a few smelly surprises around the house courtesy of your dog.

Well, if you’re like most people, you would immediately go into full panic mode and you might be even feeling like you’re going notes. Don’t worry. That’s a perfectly normal response to that kind of situation. Research says that cluttered and disorderly spaces can trigger stress and anxiety in people.

This is what expert psychologist, Sherrie Bourg Carter, has to say about the matter: “Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”

But it begs to ask the question: why are messy places triggers for anxiety and stress? Well, Carter has some light to shed about that issue as well.

  1. Clutter has a way of making people feel overwhelmed because it exposes them to a lot of unnecessary and insignificant stimuli. It’s almost like a sensory overload for things that don’t really matter in the first place.
  2. It takes a person’s attention away from things that they should be focusing on in the first place.
  3. It makes it more difficult for people to relax and recover both on mental and physical capacity.
  4. It makes one feel as if the work is never going to be finished.
  5. It forces one to ponder on how to go about tidying everything up.
  6. It makes people feel more guilty and embarrassed about not being more organized and orderly.
  7. Messes can also hinder productivity and creativity in people.
  8. It gets more frustrating when one is trying to find a particular item or tool amidst all of the mess and disorderliness.

But here’s the thing about messes: they can be ironed out. It’s so easy to fix clutter in a person’s life. It’s all just a matter of effectively employing a few simple methods as laid out by Carter:

  1. Utilize the family to make sure that the household is neat and organized. Remember that your family should always be there to help you out in maintaining a clean and orderly household. Assign each person of the household a specific task that they can be held accountable for. People often rise up to their roles and responsibilities when they are delineated clearly.
  2. Prevent clutter from infesting your space by actually making sure that every single item you own has a designated spot for it. That way, you would always be able to find exactly what you’re looking for without much hassle. Also, avoid using open storage instruments such as shelves because you would still see the clutter. Make use of closed off spaces such as drawers and cabinets.
  3. Get rid of the things that you no longer use, need, or want in your life. If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing for over a year, then maybe it’s time for you to maybe donate it to somewhere else. The stuff that is taking up space in your life is baggage. And it’s best to just get rid of the stuff that you no longer need.
  4. When you have finished using something, make sure that you actually return it to its proper place. You want to make sure that you don’t allow any of it to just lay around. That’s the quickest way to have things get lost or to add more clutter to your living space.
  5. Don’t allow your papers to turn into files. If you’ve signed some contracts, then put them into an envelope. When you’re done using newspapers and magazines, recycle them. When you have a loose flyer lying around, then throw it away.
  6. Clean up your workspace once you have accomplished all of your tasks at a time. It’s going to make you feel more satisfied with having achieved everything that you set out to do. Also, when you return to your desk, it’s going to make you feel so much better about getting to work on a desk that is already neat and tidy.
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