In recent years, numerous studies have shown a link between anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed with having a lot of clutter in the home. A chaotic working and living environment can contribute to poor health. If it is as simple as decluttering the home to reap such important rewards, why isn’t everyone doing it? Tidying up, rearranging the space and if necessary putting up a few shelves or other storage units to create a better sense of order can all have real impact on a person’s quality of life.
In terms of mental and emotional health, there can be significant consequences of living or working in a messy space. At its extreme, hoarders are known to be distant, paranoid and evasive – not qualities of a well-rounded healthy individual. Clutter has a serious impact on the potential for change: it restricts people’s motivation and performance, and in some cases can also impact on social interaction. People do not want to invite friends to a home which is messy and cluttered for fear of judgement. In the working environment, a tendency towards clutter at home usually begins to extend to the office – which can damage a person’s perception by colleagues and bosses, and ultimately harm their career prospects. Moreover, not being totally stable at work can cause its own health issues, through stress. There have been numerous studies into the effects of stress on a person’s wellbeing.
Some studies have also suggested a link between physical health conditions and cluttered lifestyle. So what can be done? Firstly, choose a room to start the decluttering process. Whether it’s the bedroom, living space or kitchen area, pick a place that needs attention and work methodically. If there is not time to spend a whole day on tidying, commit to using one hour per week or even an hour per month in which some attention will be given to cleaning out unnecessary clutter. There should be two criteria for keeping items: will this item be a benefit to my everyday life, or have I used it in the last 6 months? Items which do not meet these criteria should be donated to charity or sold.
Once things have been cleared away, start looking at storage options for the things which are left. Holiday decorations need to be kept safely for eleven months of the year – perhaps building a cupboard in the eaves or under the stairs would be a useful project. Other small items might be displayed on a bookcase or shelving, rather than sitting on windowsills in a cluster. Find the way to make the things you own directly benefit everyday life and clutter will no longer be an issue.
Once your room is clear of clutter and debris, start thinking about some home improvements, simple tasks such as having new flooring fitted or painting the walls can make a vast difference to a room and make it feel brand new. By spending a little time and working on a room by room basis before you know it the whole house will look vastly different and your quality of life will have been greatly improved.