Clothes spilling out of the closet, papers littered across the desk, and old dishes moldering in the sink all add up to one thing: stress. Yes, feeling helpless in the midst of your own disarray may be weighing on you more than you realize. In fact, a Huffington Post survey found worries about home organization to be among the most common stress triggers for adults.
Fortunately, unlike other regularly recognized sources of stress (e.g. unplanned expenses, illness, rocky relationships), getting organized is an easy fix and it actually can improve your state of mind. And, for an added shot of happiness, consider donating or recycling used clothing and other items you no longer need.
Here are six benefits to look forward to after finally tackling that closet clean out:
- Feel less anxious
If it’s hard to find a clear path to the bed, how are you supposed to clear your mind? Though cleaning isn’t a cure-all for stress, it can help make a room feel more relaxing. By addressing the mess, you can turn a suffocating stressor into an oasis.
- Make room for the new
Often we keep mementos to remind us of events we want to remember or things we meant to do. But filling your space, both mental and physical, with aspirational or sentimental objects can make it hard to live in the moment. Getting rid of sentimental clutter can help release the past to make mental room for the future.
- Put an end to distractions
When your brain is over stimulated, it’s hard to focus on any one task for a long period of time. Research has shown that people who think they are multitasking are actually merely dividing their attention, to the detriment of whatever tasks they’re trying to complete. Clutter is the visual equivalent of multitasking, in which a multitude of visual stimuli compete for our attention. The pile of clothes in the corner, the picture you’ve been meaning to hang, and the closet door you can’t quite close are probably taking up more mental real estate than you realize. Get rid of them, and the only distraction you’ll have is the Internet, TV, pets, friends, family…
- Become more efficient
Speaking of distractions, research has shown that employees waste nearly 38 hours a year searching for lost materials. For those who work from (a messy) home, the number might be even greater. Other studies have shown that the average American spends 55 minutes a day – roughly 12 weeks a year – looking for things they know they own but can’t find. Decluttering might just give you that time back.
- Turn off and unwind
No matter how much you accomplished at the office, when there’s clutter around, it can still feel as if there is more work to be done. Shut down the pesky voice in your head chiding you to clean your room by actually cleaning your room. Once the mess is gone, home can go back to being a sanctuary, rather than a to-do list entry.
- Start a series of healthy decisions
Researchers have found a surprising correlation between clean homes and healthy, active lifestyles. The findings suggest that encouraging people to keep their houses clean was an important factor in overall health.
Taking on a deep clean can be daunting, so here’s a pro tip: Commit to spending 15 minutes each day organizing and cleaning. That’s less time than it takes to watch an episode of Hoarders – hint, hint.
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