The Link Between Clutter & Your Mental Health

Clutter is linked to chronic stress, anxiety and depression: women who live in cluttered homes were found to have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their bodies, a study by UCLA reveals.

While a messy home can simply be down to a lack of time or care, it can at other times be a sign of underlying mental health issues. Fatigue, hopelessness, and a difficulty concentrating — all symptoms of depression — can often be to blame for messy homes. 

A Sign of Depression

When you’re under stress, overwhelmed, or unhappy in certain areas in your life, your living space may naturally reflect this — even if you don’t meet the criteria for a depression diagnosis. You may feel you don’t deserve a clean and tidy space or have time to keep your home in order. In turn, clutter can begin to chip away at your mental health, and studies show that it may inhibit your ability to bond with others. Moreover, since a lack of energy and difficulty concentrating are also symptoms of depression, this can further make it difficult to tidy up. 

Health Dangers of Clutter

Clutter impacts your mindset and leads to chaotic eating habits. In one study, women in messy kitchens consumed twice as many calories from cookies than women in tidy kitchens. In turn, this can lead to weight gain, lack of energy, and depression. Moreover, living and working in a messy environment increases your risk of physical injury. Hoarded items are a fire risk, which can block your escape route in case of a fire, as well as can increase the speed the fire spreads at. It’s also easy to injure yourself simply by tripping or falling over clutter. 

Decluttering Your Life & Your Mind

If you're concerned that the clutter in your home is a sign of underlying mental health issues, it’s important to consult a qualified therapist or counselor, who can help you sort out what's going on. As for decluttering your home, it can be an overwhelming task, so know you don’t have to tackle it all at once. Start by setting small, manageable goals. Aim to complete one small task everyday (for example, cleaning the kitchen sink or making your bed), and over time your home will improve. 

Clutter can be harmful to mental and physical health, and it is often a sign of underlying issues that need addressing. It’s important to seek professional help and start slowly decluttering your home to improve your quality of life. 

This article was kindly written and contributed by Cassie Steele.

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