Several research studies and surveys have shown that people who live in cluttered homes often suffer from anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness. While clutter in the house is not classified as a serious obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), it can eventually lead to one or worse, hoarding, according to professional organisers.
The accuracy in finding a direct correlation between mental stress and cluttered homes is something most psychologists have agreed upon. The state of one’s mental wellbeing depends on a number of factors; one of which includes the tidiness of their homes and the household possessions they choose to keep.
Many books and research theories on the mental benefits of decluttering a home explain how clutter goes beyond the number of items kept, but has much to do with the types of material things people hold on to. Unfinished projects, unused items, past belongings and things that are no longer of use are common forms of clutter found in homes. They generally start off in one room of the home, before taking over an entire household and causing its members to feel mentally stressed and unhappy. Surveys have shown that people who have lived with clutter in the past, found themselves growing more anxious and stressed in their day to day lives until they were able to declutter and organise their home.
Psychologists who have conducted studies on the mental benefits of decluttering a home highlight the importance of identifying the problem first, understanding it second, and then taking necessary action to bring about a positive change. Clutter in any form can affect the mental wellbeing of a person and therefore, experts urge homeowners to broaden their knowledge on the subject.
Professional organisers categorise clutter in the following forms:
New or Unused items
Research studies suggest that 1 in 5 homes have brand new items that have not been opened or unpacked in the last 10 years. These are generally wedding gifts or purchased items for a new home in the form of cookware, dishware, showpieces, upholstery, etc. These items can easily replace old ones, rather than saving them for many more years to come, professional organisers say. Similarly, items like gym equipment, appliances and arts and crafts material that are no longer being used take up unnecessary space in the home and create clutter. According to many psychologists, holding on to such items, though useful, triggers a sense of disappointment or dissatisfaction in people who do not have time to make use of them. Hence, the mental benefit that comes with doing away with unused items and creating a more clutter-free living space is hugely evident.
Things from the Past
Allotting too much space in the home for past belongings is also considered unhealthy. Often times, people are unaware of the fine line between holding on to valuable memories, such as old photos and tokens or trophies of achievement, and other sentimental objects that are triggering negative emotions. These may be letters from an ex-lover, clothes or belongings of a late family member, etc. Good mental health starts with surrounding oneself with things that bring about positive vibes and joy. Professional organisers suggest getting rid of items from the past that clutter the home, and more importantly, the mind.
Several books dedicated to improving one’s mental wellbeing point out that clutter in the form of unfinished projects take a huge toll on a person’s physical state of mind. As explained by the authors, this is because projects that have had enough time to sit unfinished bring about a sense of failure and disappointment in oneself. Some common incomplete projects include minor remodeling work, art pieces, handicrafts, stitching and repair jobs around the house. Many professional organisers say that this form of clutter in the home stops people from moving forward in other aspects of their life which, in turn, affect their mental wellbeing. Researchers advise donating or discarding of materials and supplies and making time for important home jobs to achieve a content state of mind when walking into a room of the house that was once cluttered.
Mental Benefits of Decluttering a Home
Findings on the subject extend to research papers, studies, surveys and several books and articles by professional organisers and psychologists. Infographics like How Decluttering Your Home Can Make You Happier help people who live in cluttered homes to better understand the effect is has on their mental wellbeing.
Those who live a clutter-free lifestyle at home tend to think clearer, feel happier and are much less stressed. Psychologists explain that organisation in the home saves time, allowing people to relax more and work less. Emotional distress is instantly triggered when walking into a cluttered home or room. Particularly with smaller homes, maintaining organisation is of utmost importance, professional organisers say. This is because smaller living spaces tend to look cluttered with just an extra piece of furniture. Hence, experts have suggested that homeowners rethink what is of actual use, and what is not, in their homes.