Life gets messy. And I mean that literally. The average American house has over 300000 items in it. That is a lot of stuff. And all of that stuff leads to clutter.
I’m sure each and every one of us has a tale to tell about clutter. With the rise of mass consumerism; the amount we purchase, consume, and ultimately store (often out of sight) has increased drastically. We just have too much stuff!
It seems that we have developed an obsession with material possessions or “things”, which, on the whole, don’t serve us at all. Perhaps at the time of purchase, we experienced that instant gratification. But very rarely, if at all, is that gratification sustaining.
The downside of this is that we find ourselves cluttering up our environment and our homes. Tied to this is a host of other problems.
“Anyone with an overflowing closet or totally stuffed basement can attest to the stress brought on by piles of junk. That’s because not only is it annoying to look at, but it can bring up so many different emotions” – Bustle
How Does Clutter Make You Feel?
That article goes on to say that when you look at your messy closet you feel stressed about the lack of organization, guilty about the fact that you don’t wear half of what you own, and are confused as to what style you are even going for.
According to Jennifer Baumgartner Psy.D., in Psychology Today, clutter can also have an immense psychological effect.
“Clutter is not only a container for our memories but can be a distractor for tackling deeper issues.”
All the junk we have is inextricably linked to other problems; it can hold us back from getting stuff done. Recognizing the fact that it’s time to declutter is easy, but actually getting it done is a whole other feat. It can be an absolute chore. What follows, however, is a host of benefits. Here are four, according to science:
Declutter for a brighter future
An item can be classified as clutter, not in terms of how it looks, but how it makes you feel. All the things we own are invariably attached to memories we have. When we look at them we often get a sense of nostalgia. Sometimes these memories are good memories, and this is okay.
But often our possessions are associated with bad memories. Holding on to such possessions only serve as a negative reminder of the past. It does not serve us at all; only holds us back from moving forward with our lives and creating a new, brighter future. Declutter actually helps you let go of the past.
Declutter for lower stress and a peaceful mind
A recent study from UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) found that clutter has a deep-seated effect on our mood and self-esteem.
Notably, anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found “A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female homeowners and a high density of household objects.” Men didn’t seem to be bothered by this at all. Women were found to become more anxious as the dishes piled up in the sink.
The research suggests that through decluttering we can reduce stress, become less anxious, and ultimately be more at peace.
Related– 18 Five Minute Decluttering Tips
Declutter for increased productivity
Clutter has a profound impact on our brains. In a study conducted by Neuroscientists at Princeton University, researchers explain that the reasoning for this is that physical clutter in our environment competes for our attention, which negatively affects performance and induces stress.
Through decluttering then there is less vying for our attention, our information processing is improved and we can focus better. Naturally, what follows is improved productivity.
Declutter for improved sleep
A recent study conducted by Pamela Thacher of St. Lawrence University suggests that clutter and sleep loss are linked. More specifically, a link was found between hoarding objects and bad sleep quality. The study asked participants about their hoarding, sleeping, and clutter and rated them on a “Clutter and Hoarding Rating Scale”. Of the 198 participants, 83 who were at risk of hoarding disorder suffered from sleep latency.
Hoarding disorder is a disorder where people accumulate items, that they struggle to get rid of, which have little or no value to them. Sleep latency is the length of time it takes from lying down to sleep until sleep onset.
Pamela Thacher mentions that hoarders already have problems with decision making and cognitive control (set of cognitive processes such as reasoning, problem-solving, etc). Lack of sleep is known to compromise cognition. It then follows that any existing risk for cognitive dysfunction, depression, and stress may increase with lack of sleep.
And it isn’t just about trying to organize all the stuff that you have. You actually need to “de-own” stuff. I cannot stress enough how powerful living a more minimalist lifestyle is to your overall well being.
There is a host of problems associated with clutter, from increased stress levels to other psychological effects. Decluttering can feel like a chore, particularly as we often ascribe value to things based on associated memories.
However, when we declutter what follows is a host of benefits, from greater well-being, improved productivity, reduced stress, and a peaceful mind. Ultimately, we improve our lives.
Recommended– The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Do you have a lot of clutter to deal with in your life?
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“Change The Code. Change Your Life”