How Clutter is Harming Your Health

The amount of excess stuff in your house doesn’t have to reach sensational reality TV levels before it has negative effects on your well-being.Even whatmost of us consider a normal amount of clutter could be harming our health.

Last week I wrote about “Swedish Death Cleaning” being the hot new decluttering trend. Readers loved the concept, but many took issue with the example of my mother filling her house with too much stuff, to the point of me telling her to get rid of it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it when she passes away in the very-distant future.

Related: Declutter Not, So Your KidsWon’t Have To

“You are the only useless piece of clutter in your mother’s life!” one person shrieked (via written commentary). My point is, there’s a general sense that, unless clutter has reached hoarding level, the problem can’t be all that bad.

That’s where I beg to differ, along with a host of experts who believe that clutter creates a very real psychological burden on individuals. There are many reasons why one should fight clutter every step of the way, even before it gets bad.

How Clutter Harms Your Health

How Clutter Harms Your Health

1. Clutter compromises your perception of home.

Your home should be a retreat from the world, a place in which to take pride and to relax. If it’s filled with clutter, that makes your home less enjoyable and, ultimately, creates feelings of dissatisfaction with life. AsPsychology Today writes:

“Having too many of your things in too small a place will lead you to feel that your home environment is your enemy, not your friend.”

2. Clutter makes it harder to accomplish tasks.

When you don’t know where things are, you will waste time looking for them amid the mess. If there’s no free space in which to do things, such as prepare clothes or fold laundry or put away toys, then those tasks take longer or remain unfinished. Clutter is an impediment to a streamlined, efficient life.

3. Clutter leads to unhealthier eating.

Organizing guru Peter Walsh, author of “Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight,” believes that living in a state of disorganizationcreates stress, which reduces willpower and leads to overeating. One might also argue that having a disorganized kitchen and full countertops makes one disinclined to prepare healthy meals.

4. Clutter makes you feel tired.

A study from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that people living in cluttered spaces feel stressed, which drains energy and results in exhaustion.Good Housekeeping adds, “Plus, it makes it harder to focus and process information, so you have to try harder and expend more energy to do everyday tasks.”

5. Clutter costs you money.

Disorganization comes at a cost, whether it’s missing bills and having to pay late fees, replacing key items that you cannot locate, purchasing boxes and filing systems in an attempt to contain the mess, or hiring a professional organizer out of desperation.

So, no, I do not think I’m crazy for wanting my mother to deal with her surplus of belongings. She stands to benefit mentally in the process, with the added bonus of creating less for family members down the road. The decluttering journey should always be ongoing.

Written by Katherine Martinko Post originally appeared on Treehugger.

Related at Care2

42 comments

Eric Lees
Eric Lees18 days ago

Both my Grandma's past away last winter and it was a lot of work to go through and clean out their houses. It was worse at one Grandma's house whom had lived there for ~60 years and they were farmers so it's not just the house. Actually we never did clean out the barns and the garage, the house was cleaned out and one bay of the garage so it could be rented out but not the rest of it. My Dad is even worse, also a farmer and he never throws anything away or gets rid of anything he doesn't need. Plus he get's stuff from others when they de-clutter. My parents are in there 70s, still farming and still accumulating stuff.

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees18 days ago

I agree, I have too much clutter and it is defiantly gotten to the point were it is causing me stress and my house is just depressing. I'm trying to change my ways but it is not easy.

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Clare O
Clare O24 days ago

When you get rid of stuff you no longer need, you make space for something wonderful.

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Clare O
Clare O24 days ago

Some people feel they need to hold on to everything out of a sense of low self worth or a sense that nobody loves them. Or they may have trouble making decisions - usually the root cause of clutter. You will only read so many books a second time so trade in the rest or donate them.

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Danuta W
Danuta W24 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Ruth S
Ruth S25 days ago

Not my problem but I wish some in my family would read this!! Thanks.

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Mike R
Mike R25 days ago

Thanks

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Deborah ro
Deborah ro26 days ago

There comes a time in life ,the items that were relevant in our lives are not relevant anymore . I love to find people who would appreciate the stuff I want to give away .Yesterday I gave away a dinner set to a friend's daughter that is getting married ,and all the cake baking stuff to my nieces . My entertaining today is down to max four people ,so no need to cling on to all those wine glasses and dishes . Also most of my beading stuff and craft books went to a woman who is just starting in life with a new business. I have always loved tidy and can not function with clutter . It gives me a sense of calm and peace . Clothing items I do not use ,some go to charity , some to friends, some to recycle bin ,some become cleaning rags,some into new creations.

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Winn A
Winn A27 days ago

Thanks

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Mary B
Mary B27 days ago

I totally agree with you Tree Hugger. H M YOU are completely OUT OF LINE. Ms Tree was not going in and throwing things out, she was insisting her mother start the long term job of getting rid of things she no longer used or wanted. YOU are the INTRUSION making nasty assumptions about people you don't even know. And I will take the down side of clutter further. We have a part of our brain that stores info about every thing we have and when we have too much it starts insisting on calling our attention to things, asking, do we need or want this ? It will drain our energy and clutter our thoughts until we deal with it. We live in an economic system that insists we buy all kinds of stuff we don't want or need until at some point it just gets buried and shuts down and we get sick and die. Lightening the load is just common sense and a curtesy to those left to do clean up. And it frees up so much energy for our own lives.It doesn't mean waste good stuff. It means paying attention to what is really wanted and donating or selling the rest.

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