How Clutter Could Be Affecting Your Mental Health


Mental illness affects one in five adults in the U.S., which is approximately 43.8 million people. Guess which mental illness is at the top of the list? If you guessed anxiety, then you are right! Anxiety affects 18% of the U.S. population, which is roughly 40 million people. Depression affects 16.2 million people in the U.S. and nearly one half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. So why are so many people struggling with these mental disabilities? Believe it or not, clutter could be one of the main reasons. Clutter has been linked to several mental conditions such as depression, low self-esteem, high levels of stress, disatisfaction, and anxiety. So allowing those dishes to pile up could be one of the causes of your anxiety. Crazy right! And there is more! Read on!

Sanctuary or Harmful Home

Imagine coming home after a long work day. You come through your front door only to see a sink full of dishes, crumbs on the floor, a kitchen island full of papers, toys scattered all over, book bags on the kitchen table, sweatshirts and jackets hanging over chairs, trash spilling out of the trash can, etc. day after day. After awhile this scene will start to get old and will slowly, but surely wear you down. Your home will become a place that causes you extreme levels of anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction, instead of it being your sanctuary, a place where you can relax, be yourself, and rejuvenate each and every day.

What We See Matters More Than We Realize

Just as a picture, song or video can affect your mental state so can the spaces in your home. Just think about it. How would your mood be altered if you saw a picture of a cute puppy? Warm, fuzzy and down right joyus right?  What about a picture of a crying baby? Sad right? Same goes for a sad song on the radio or that song that makes you wish you were out dancing with the girls like The Backstreet Boys single “Bye Bye Bye”! It can totally affect your mood and therefore your mental state. The spaces in your home are no different. If we walk into our home and the floors are swept, laundry folded and put away, dishes are done, papers are put away, etc. day after day, then we are much more likely to be in a good mood after walking through the door versus a bad one. Our mental state is more likely to be stable verses depressed. Next time you walk through your door pay close attention to how your mood changes. I think you will be surprised by its impact.

Lost Items and The Frustration That Comes With Them

Have you ever got frustrated when your running late because you couldn’t find your keys, your wallet and so on. The longer it takes you to locate the items you need the more frustrated and angry you get. Studies have shown that we spend, on average, 40 minutes a day looking for lost items. 40 minutes a day! Thats crazy, just imagine what you could use that 40 minutes for… a workout, cooking a healthy meal, meditating, going to a yoga class, going to get your nails done. The possibilities are endless. Just imagine instead of being angry for 40 minutes a day because you can’t find what you’re looking for, you instead spent that time doing something you love. Imagine the impact that would have on your happiness and overall life.

Lack of a Social Life  

You might not even realize it, but your clutter could be what’s keeping you from having a social life. In fact 50% of a surveyed group said that if their home was cluttered, then they would not invite friends over. I mean really think about it. When is the last time you had someone over to your house? When’s the last time you had to plan for someone to come over because you knew you’d have to do some serious cleaning first? When’s the last time someone showed up unexpected and you didn’t panic because you had to hide as much clutter in the closet and in your bedroom as you could before they walked through the door? If its been awhile, then your clutter could be impacting your ability to have a social life. And by isolating yourself you could be negatively affecting your mental health.

Focus On What You Can Change

There are things in life that you can control and others that you can not. It’s important that you focus on those things that you can control. Decluttering our home and getting organized so that we can lessen our anxiety or stress is something we can control! Research has found that women who have described their homes as being cluttered or unorganized have been more likely to have higher levels of stress. That’s a good enough reason for me to sweep that floor or put those toys away before I go to bed. Think about it! How are you setting yourself up each night in order to have a better tomorrow?

See If You Miss It

When going through the decluttering process it can be hard at times to let go of items that have sentimental value or that you paid a lot of money for! And of course going through this process doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything, but you want to choose items that you love or need. If you aren’t sure whether you love an item or need it ( I get it, it can be hard!) then try storing it away for a week, a month or a year and see if you miss it. If you don’t miss it, then there’s a good chance that it’s not something you love or need. And by just allowing these items to remain in your home and create clutter, you are actually allowing them to negatively affecting your mental health and your overall ability to be happy.

I hope that I have inspired you to take a closer look at how clutter could be affecting your happiness and overall life, but more importantly I hope I have motivated you to make a change for the better!

Carly Miller

Wide Open Spaces Organization

(513) 802-0733

Want to read more on this topic? Then check out the article below:

The Link Between Clutter and Depression By Lisa Gordon