{DAY 2} – The Psychological Effects of Clutter

Welcome to Day 2 of the 30 day Embracing The Declutter Mindset challenge. Have you signed up yet? Being messy isn’t a disorder but there are psychological effects to living amidst chronic clutter. Overstimulation is a known cause for anxiety and other negative impacts. Overstimulation occurs when the senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch, and other senses – are maxed out. Too much stimulation can lead to anxious feelings and associated feelings like anger, depression, and more.

Living in a cluttered or disorganised environment can add to the stress levels amongst the whole family. Here’s how:

Kids thrive in structure– Disorganised homes tend to be highly unstructured. From running around looking for clean clothes to eating take-out because there is not enough food to make a meal, disorganisation causes unnecessary stress.

Order creates calm– Being at home should feel peaceful. Having a pleasant environment free of clutter and overstimulation helps families disengage from the world and re-charge for a new day. If the home is in chronic disarray, it is hard to recharge. Subconsciously your mind is assessing the dishes, laundry, unfinished projects, and other signs of clutter. The sense of things being undone can trigger anxious feelings of overwhelm.

Families are a team– If one member of the family is expected to carry the lion’s share of responsibility, it can cause resentment and fatigue. Sometimes people check out when they feel unsupported. Families are a team, and everyone should be contributing to the welfare and care of the home. Even stay-at-home parents need support with home maintenance and responsibilities.

Disorganisation wastes time– Being disorganised robs families of time. Time to recharge and connect with one another. Spending time looking for lost items makes people late getting out of the door. The scramble to clean up for unexpected company or devoting an entire day to catch up on laundry can cause undue anxiety and cause you to miss out on fun activities that bring you joy.

Disorganisation causes embarrassment– Living in chaos or overwhelm can cause embarrassment. Missing appointments due to a disorganised schedule can cost time and money. A co-worker asking for a ride might result in an uncomfortable situation when your car is piled with food containers and tossed-aside clothing and sports equipment. Having company in your home when it doesn’t truly reflect who you are can make you feel uncomfortable and avoid hosting guests.

Being disorganised costs money– Families who are not organised tend to eat out more often, spend more on clothing and other items, and fail to stay within their means. This stress can affect marriages and the tension can run over onto the children. Being organised makes it possible to manage a budget and keep track of important items. It prolongs the life of clothing and other frequently used items.

Overstimulation is cause for anxiety. Sitting on your sofa after a long day, staring at yesterday’s dishes doesn’t promote relaxation. Scrambling to find your kids shoe when you are already late for work won’t get your day off to a fresh start. There are real psychological consequences to clutter and chaos. You can improve your mental health by becoming clutter free and organised.

Todays written task: Using the workbook that you received when you joined the challenge, fill out the page that begins “Decluttering reduces anxiety”.

Todays physical challenge: Look around your house and pick the one main area of clutter that causes you the most anxiety. The sort of place where the things gather and pile up on a daily basis. Ignore the rest. Just look at that one small area and clear it. See what a great difference that makes to see that clear space and then envision it happening within other areas of the house. Is there a system you can put into place to avoid it? For example:

  • Post/mail
    • sort it the second it arrives or have a concertina folder labelled “inbox”/”outbox”/”actionable”.
  • Keys/phones
    • Have a bowl for keys and a small box to place phones in
  • Bottom of the stairs
    • Great place for gathering things to go up. I have a basket at the bottom to gather the things in and then whenever I go upstairs I take it with me and empty it. I have one for the top of the stairs too. 

I will be addressing areas like the hall and paperwork in depth on one day of the challenge so don’t panic if the above feels a bit vague for now.

Personal challenge: The area that causes me the most anxiety in our house is the kitchen table. It seats 6 people but as we work from it, we are lucky if the two children can sit at it to eat! We end up eating after they’ve gone to bed! I tend to pile up the contents at mealtimes and the pile gets bigger! Today I plan to tackle that and at least make it so the four of us can eat at the same time.

Where are your clutter hotspots? Comment below or in the facebook group and I’ll see if I can give you some ideas.

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