How Physical Clutter Is Impacting Your Mental Health

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How Physical Clutter Is Impacting Your Mental Health and What You Can Do About It

If you’ve ever heard the term “clutter” used to describe an excessive amount of possessions, you’ll know that minimalism has taken the hotspot of home décor trends in recent years. These days, so-called experts claim that by buying less and de-cluttering more, we could enjoy better mental health and get more done; but is there any truth to these claims?

According to Psychology Today, physical clutter can affect mental flow, causing an inability to practice healthy habits and even think coherently. A collection of recent studies showed that the so-called “clutter-effect” can have genuine implications for our mental welling, and that streamlining our possessions could lead to less stress and improved life satisfaction, as well as improved cognitive functioning and better physical health.

So, what do you do if clutter has become a way of life? Can you break the habit? Here’s how to shift the physical clutter taking up your valuable headspace.

How Does Clutter Happen?

It’s no good de-cluttering your home or office if a few weeks down the line you find yourself in the same pile of mess as before. To cut physical clutter out of your life for good, you need to figure out how it got there in the first place. Do you have too much in your schedule? Are you disorganized by nature? Are you simply too short on time to put things back in their correct places or tidy up after yourself?

If any of the above is true, you’ll want to look at changing your habits or altering your lifestyle to make your daily activities less stressful. Sit down and write down everything you need to get done on an average work or weekend day. Work day activities may include, getting up, taking a shower, packing the kids’ lunchboxes, making breakfast, driving the kids to school, commuting to work, and so on. If your weekends are jut as busy, it’s not hard to see why you’re so short on time.

How Can You Fix It?

You don’t need a complete life overhaul to make you a tidier, more organized person. While in some cases hiring a professional cleaner or a nanny might be an appropriate solution, it’s not feasible for many of us. Instead, look at small changes you can make to your work and home life that will help you feel more on top of your day.

Eliminating Clutter at Home

Obviously, you will need to start by de-cluttering your home and getting rid of items you don’t use, need, or enjoy. You could set aside one day on the weekend to work through each room with a bag for trash, one for donations, and another for items you want to sell or pass on. Alternatively, if you don’t have an entire day spare, you can just work on small areas for ten minutes each day. You’d be surprised how your efforts add up over time.

Once you’ve cleared your home of any unnecessary items, you’re bound to feel more in control of your surroundings. Next, you need to look at how that clutter made its way into your home in the first place. Do you have a habit of buying things you don’t need? Do you need to clean out your wardrobe or your kid’s toy box more regularly? Are you simply a hoarder, or do you have an emotional attachment to your belongings that makes it hard to throw them away?

Although advertising companies would have us believe otherwise, material possessions rarely make us happy, yet many people turn to “retail therapy” to cure their woes. If this resonates with you, think about how and why you have cultivated these habits, and then start implementing small changes to help you shift your mindset. List all your purchases for a couple of weeks and see if there are any you can cut down. Each time you feel an impulse to buy something new, replace it with another rewarding activity like exercising, listening to music, or reading a favorite book.

Be more mindful about what you bring into your home. The best way to do this is to resist buying an item you want. Instead, wait at least 48 hours, then if you still want to buy it, you can. Chances are, you’ll have forgotten all about the “essential” purchase, proving you never needed it in the first place.

Eliminating Clutter at Work

If chaos and clutter invades your headspace at home, you’ll find it impacts your work, too. Constantly having to sift through piles of paperwork or trawl through digital files to find what you need is mentally exhausting; it’s hard to find the space in your brain for creativity or even productivity if your physical space is overflowing with junk.

When it comes to clearing the clutter in your office, you’ll do well to repeat the steps above: clean and de-clutter your physical and virtual space, examine your habits, and try to delegate wherever possible. Hiring a cleaner to come in once or twice a week will take the strain off you and free up time for you to run your business. You can find a professional cleaning service for your business online by clicking here!

When the Clutter Isn’t Yours

If you work or live in a shared space and you suspect other people are responsible for the clutter that’s upsetting you, you will need to speak to them about their habits. Explain that you’re having trouble living or working in a messy environment, and ask them politely to clear up after themselves more often. If you want to avoid embarrassing them, you can suggest that you are also part of the problem, and you should all make a team effort to keep the space tidy.

If you work in a disorganized office and asking your colleagues to make less mess doesn’t work, consider bringing in baskets for each desk. At the end of the day, if items are left on another worker’s desk, put all of his or her belongings into the designated basket so the surface space is clear. If you don’t want to admit that your colleagues’ habits are bothering you, you can tell them that clearing away clutter makes the desks easier to clean, which is true!

Change Your Habits

Unnecessary clutter can impact our mental health and make us feel stressed, both at home and at work. However, labeling yourself or others as “untidy” or “disorganized” doesn’t help. Anyone can change a habit, so don’t resign yourself to a life of chaos and clutter forever. Instead, take small, positive steps toward changing your habits, and you’ll enjoy a calmer, more productive, less stressful life.

Thanks to Lauren Greger

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