Being clean doesn’t just benefit you in obvious ways, like not breaking your neck when to trip over piles of trash on the floor. Can living in a clean environment help your health and psychological state as well? Some studies indicate this might be the case.
Clutter Affects Your Focus
Clutter can affect your ability to focus according to a study done by some neuroscientists at Princeton University. (1) It seems as though the scattered piles of paper in your office can affect your brain like a dripping faucet, or a hungry two year old. The mess can provide an itch you can’t scratch so when you do need to focus on something your laser concentration isn’t as sure as it could be. The piles of junk can wear you down over time and that lack of concentration can lead to frustration, which is why it is no surprise that clutter can also contribute to stress. (2)
Clutter Can Stress You Out
While enough clutter could stress out anyone, women are especially victims of the stress caused by it.(3) A study done by anthropologists at UCLA found that stress hormones rose within women when they were confronted by the messes in their homes. (4) Interestingly, the men and the older children as well didn’t seem afflicted with this outlook. The researchers suggested maybe the clutter was comprised of objects they viewed fondly so they didn’t illicit the same effect. Women may still feel more responsible for making sure things are neat and tidy, even though their roles in the family are more varied than they used to be. (5) We all know that stress over time can lead to health issues, one of which often starts with a trip to the freezer.
Clutter can make you gain weight
Yes, you guessed it, clutter can affect your eating habits and your weight. (6) For example, Peter Walsh, author of “Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat,” noticed the connection between added pounds and mess as he was helping clients who were plagued by overconsumption. (7) This spawned a number of books where he tries to deal with both simultaneously. He feels they are not very dissimilar. There was even a study done in Australia where subjects were offered cookies either in a cluttered area, or in one that was pristine, and guess what happened. Apparently the people surrounded by stuff fell into a “low self-control” mindset, and ate about double the cookies of those in the calm clean environment. (5)
There are more ways I could guilt you into cleaning. Like the time being disorganized costs you while you are looking for last years tax statement, or the money it costs you when you can’t find a freaking pair of scissors in this place, so you go buy more. You are also missing the money you would gain from selling items you don’t need. (8) Then there is the idea that clutter leads to procrastination, or that the dust you are not collecting in your modern dust trapping device is contributing to allergies in your household. Shall I go on? There is more to that insidious pile of dishes in the sink than just the funky odor. Those dishes could spell your doom. Better get washing before your life falls apart. Just imagine how blissful that empty sink will feel as you to relax a bit more, eat a little less, and live a little longer while you are watching your favorite murder mystery.
- McMains, S, and S Kastner. “Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex.” ncbi.nim.nih.gov, 12 Jan. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.
- Doland, Erin. “Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process information.” unclutterer.com, 29 Mar. 2011, unclutterer.com/2011/03/29/scientists-find-physical-clutter-negatively-affects-your-ability-to-focus-process-information/. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.
- Gambelin, Anne-Marie. “It’s science: Clutter can actually give you anxiety.” mother.ly, www.mother.ly/life/its-science-clutter-can-actually-give-you-anxiety. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.
- Feuer, Jack. ” The Clutter Culture.” magazine.ucla.edu, 1 July 2012, magazine.ucla.edu/features/the-clutter-culture/index.html. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.
- Whitbourne, Susan K. “5 Reasons to Clear the Clutter out of Your Life.” Psychology Today, 13 May 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201705/5-reasons-clear-the-clutter-out-your-life. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.
- Doheny, Kathleen. “Clutter Control: Is Too Much ‘Stuff’ Draining You?.” webmd, www.webmd.com/balance/features/clutter-control#1. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.
- Vozza, Stephanie. “7 Ways Clutter Is Ruining Your Life.” Fast Company, 9 Nov. 2015, www.fastcompany.com/3052894/7-ways-clutter-is-ruining-your-life. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018
- Alton, Larry. “Why Clutter Is Killing Your Focus (and How to Fix It).” nbc news, 22 June 2017, www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-clutter-killing-your-focus-how-fix-it-ncna775531. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.