The Real Effect Clutter Has On Your Mental Health

You're probably aware that having poor mental health can make it more difficult for people to keep their homes free of clutter, but did you know that it can also work the other way around?

According to PR Newswire, more than half of Americans are overwhelmed by all of the clutter in their homes. In fact, clutter is ranked as even more irritating than dirt, crumbs, spills, and stains (per Apartment Guide). With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that clutter often influences mental health in a negative way.

Clutter can be a tremendous source of stress, for several reasons (per Verywell Mind). An untidy home may be a source of shame, leading many people to spend hours cleaning before guests arrive and making socialization seem like a chore. A mess is a visual reminder of the cleaning still to be done, yet another task on the to-do list. And when it clogs up too much space, clutter can also get in the way of other activities in the home, like using the floor for yoga or a table for scrapbooking.

This is how clutter influences your mental health

According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, clutter can make your residence feel like less of a home, which may reduce well-being. While your home is supposed to be a refuge from the stresses of the world, clutter turns this haven into its own stressor. In turn, this makes it more difficult to relax at home. A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles discovered that people who described their homes as cluttered generally had higher levels of cortisol, which is correlated with higher stress levels. This was especially the case for mothers.

In addition, being in a cluttered environment can make you feel like you have less self-control, which may cause you to consume more calories (per Environment and Behavior). A messy house can also pose problems for people who work remotely, as being around clutter can reduce productivity (via Harvard Business Review).

With all of this in mind, ridding your home of clutter is an effective way to boost your productivity and mental health. Verywell Mind suggests cleaning in 15-minute increments, possibly with music in the background to boost your morale. Once your home appears socially acceptable, you can invite friends over regularly, which will motivate you to maintain the progress you've made.