In this digital age of limitless information at our fingertips, we’re constantly surrounded by magazine-style imagery that sparks a desire for a beautifully organized home. While we can’t all achieve Pinterest-worthy perfection, we do tend to see these dreamy spaces and think ‘I want that!’. It’s important to have realistic expectations, but did you know that your desire for a clutter-free space is rooted in science? Keep reading to discover the negative effects of clutter and what you can do to prevent it from happening.
Our lives are busier and more cluttered than ever, and it’s taking a toll. On a daily basis, we may think our extra stuff is just an annoyance, but on a larger scale, the negative effects of clutter are increasing our stress and anxiety, contributing to unhealthy habits, and ultimately limiting our potential.
When it comes to clutter and its impacts, it’s not one-size-fits-all. Some people need every single surface clear in order to think, while others may work better with a little bit of ‘stuff’ around them. Either way, studies show that if you feel cluttered, it can definitely impact your mental and physical well-being.
Types of Clutter
When we discuss clutter, we often describe the Physical Clutter around us. Too many kitchen appliances, the clothing we never wear, stepping on LEGOs in your kids’ playroom (ouch!), or overflowing garages. However, we often forget about Mental Clutter which seems to be on the rise. Information overload is a real thing, especially now during CoVid and weekly Zoom meetings and distance learning! While our trusty devices are lifesavers in some ways, we need to be conscious of the daily influx of information we’re forced to absorb. With full schedules, long to-do lists, & lackluster time management, our minds have become as full as our homes, so it’s important to recognize the impact both are having on our lives.
Effects of Clutter on the Mind
When our minds are overloaded and stressed, it impacts our physical and mental health. Let’s take a look at the negative effects of clutter and the complications it may be creating in your life and then we’ll discuss what you can do to solve those problems!
Distraction. When we’re surrounded by disorder, our minds have trouble focusing. This is especially true when we’re using the internet and find ourselves down the rabbit hole of information! But it happens in our physical space too. You might be organizing one area, pick up an item to put away elsewhere, and soon find yourself doing a completely different task.
Lowered Productivity. When we’re distracted, we lose focus. When we lose focus, our productivity inevitably decreases. Do you find yourself having multiple projects going at once? Or do you ever feel like you start so many tasks but you’re never able to cross any off your to-do list? That’s often a symptom of distraction and clutter!
Stress & Anxiety. Countless studies have shown that individuals who claim clutter as a stressor in their lives have increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that impacts your metabolism and immune response. Women who considered their home disorganized were found to have even higher levels of cortisol; thereby increased stress levels as well. In addition, higher cortisol levels are linked to weight gain, slow healing, high blood pressure, and other not-so-fun stuff.
Immune System. When the body is stressed, it has a harder time fighting off infection. And when cortisol levels remain high, the body becomes accustomed to it which increases inflammation. Bottom line: clutter causes stress and stress weakens our immune systems.
Unhealthy Eating. Clutter has been linked to an increase in excess snacking on unhealthy foods for all the reasons listed above. So instead, eliminate clutter and have those treats when you can enjoy them!
Don’t fret! I know this all sounds overwhelming, but there’s a solution if you feel like you’re living in chaos. I work with people all the time who feel so much better after learning organizational skills, and you can too!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started:
- Start Small – Maybe clean out one drawer in the kitchen or the surface of your desk. Once you see progress, you can build momentum to tackle larger projects.
- Keep it Simple – Don’t overthink things!
- Stay Focused – It’s easy to get distracted, but that will derail your progress so stay on task.
- Consistency – Like any good habit, it’s all about maintaining consistent practice so once you get going, don’t stop!
- A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place – This is a cliche for a reason! If you designate a space for something, then you have somewhere to put it when you’re done.
- Check out my tips for Small Organizing Tweaks that can make a big difference!
And if you’re still struggling, contact me to discuss your situation. I would love to help you conquer your clutter!