Clutter can cause anxiety. It may not be the root cause of it, but it certainly doesn’t help.
I battle with anxiety, and I hate it. I hate that my worries and my emotions can dictate my mood and general well-being.
Decluttering didn’t cure my anxiety, but having a clutter-free home has greatly reduced my anxiety and stress.
There’s a good chance decluttering can help you too if you’re dealing with anxiety or stress.
Our first big declutter was when my two children were fairly young. I was a very busy mom, working full time outside the home, with a traveling spouse.
Life was not always easy. Home management was nothing short of impossible many days.
It was during the act of decluttering I discovered how peaceful I was making my home and how much the feel of my home contributed to my overall mental health.
Can clutter give you anxiety?
Clutter is visual chaos. It usually looks like a giant mess, even if it’s organized into piles or has some “system” assigned to it.
If you suffer from anxiety, this visual chaos will fuel it like gas poured on a fire. It’s intense.
I didn’t realize just how intense these feelings were until the clutter started to disappear.
You know that relaxed feeling you get when you enter a clean home or a hotel room on vacation? I guarantee you, at least part of that feeling is the lack of clutter.
When we surround ourselves with outer order, we feel calmer inside.
Clutter reflects how we feel inside
Often, our physical environment reflects how we are feeling internally. If you have a cluttered, stressful home, chances are you feel stress and disorganized inside as well.
This isn’t always the case, some of us are completely clutter-blind and happy. However, the relationship between clutter and mental health is very strong for most.
Have you ever recognized how clutter (and messes in general) build up when we are having bad days? There’s no real drive to take care of things, and we let the messes get out of hand.
One item left here. Another item left there. Before you know it, you have a giant pile that seems crazy overwhelming to even think about tinkering with. Then, it sits there so long, it becomes part of the landscape of your home.
The clutter build-up can happen fast. Believe it or not, decluttering can be self-care.
Related Post: 3 Secrets You Need to Know When Decluttering
Clutter creates an environment of chaos
Clutter attracts more clutter. Clutter also attracts chaos.
To oversimplify this concept, think of your “dumping ground.”
A “dumping ground” is the catch-all place where you put things when you walk in the door or when the items have no other home. They are “orphaned items.”
If this dumping ground is the home to your car keys, cell phone, purse, laptop, mail, bills, calendar, kid’s artwork, etc, it gets crowded quickly.
Before you know it, you are also leaving your coffee cup there, the magazine you just bought, and the permission slip you forgot existed.
When it’s time to run out the door in a hurry, you can’t find anything you need, and you leave late and frustrated.
This is the perfect example of how your clutter creates an environment of chaos. Clutter is frustrating. Clutter causes anxiety. Clutter causes stress.
You deserve better than this!
Related Post: How Decluttering Can Help When Overwhelmed as a Mom
Clutter wastes time
Clutter is also a huge time suck.
Nothing wastes your time like having to move piles around, search for lost items, and “pick-up” only to have no real great spot to put something.
This dreadful cycle of time wasters related to your clutter creates more unnecessary anxiety and stress.
Clutter wastes money
The most common stressor for many families is money. Clutter wastes money, which creates more anxiety and stress for people.
Think about all the unnecessary expenditures you make in a day, week or month that do nothing but add to your clutter.
If you weren’t spending money on items you don’t need, you would be saving money and preventing the pile-up of unwanted items in your home!
Related post: 12 Things I Stopped Buying Since Becoming Minimalist-ish
Decluttering to reduce anxiety and stress
What does one do to conquer clutter and reduce their anxiety and stress?
Simply saying, “I’m going to declutter” is easier said than done. It takes people a lifetime to accumulate clutter, so getting rid of it takes some time too.
Unless you hire a professional organizer (and trash/junk removal service), you will have to spend some significant time and invest some hard work to get rid of the clutter.
First, realize that decluttering can greatly help your anxiety and stress. It may not be the cure for it, but it’s one action you can control to make yourself feel better.
If you want to jump in and declutter quickly, this post is for you: Declutter Fast This Weekend.
If you prefer to dip your big toe into the decluttering pool, this is the post for you: 11 Simple Tasks to Ease into Decluttering.
Decluttering can feel therapeutic
For an entire year, decluttering was my therapy and self-care. It was actually therapeutic to go through my belongings and take back my home.
Like exercising, decluttering felt healthy. For a full year, when I did my big declutter, I committed to at least ten minutes a day to take back my home.
You may not always want to declutter. Some days, you will hate it.
However, if you commit to this form of self-care every day (or at least most days), you will get the benefit of learning how to let go of the past and embrace a calmer future with space to breathe and grow.
Decluttering can give you a sense of control over chaos
Sometimes life throws us fastballs, and we aren’t quite sure how to deal with what comes our way.
Sometimes, our homes create so much work for us that we don’t get to enjoy them as a place to relax and spend time with our family.
When you declutter, you get to reduce the anxiety and stress in your life by taking back control over some elements of chaos.
Decluttering won’t solve all your problems. However, sometimes, it gives you that sense of control that is craved whenever everything else seems so crazy.
Related Post: 5 Real Health Benefits to Owning Less
Decluttering makes managing a home easier
If nothing else, decluttering can help your stress and anxiety because it makes managing your home super easy.
When you declutter, you have less stuff to pick-up and put away. You can see your counter-tops, you have systems in place, and everything seems to have a “home”. No more orphaned items taking up space!
Without the mess from clutter, tidying up and staying on top of your home management gets way easier, ultimately saving you time and the stress of keeping up.
Does your house stress you out?
If your house is stressing you out, it may be something as simple as clutter.
Decluttering doesn’t mean you have to have a perfect home. Nope. Far from it.
If you are feeling stressed out about your clutter and don’t want to start because you feel like the end goal is impossible, take a step back.
Do you really need an Instagram-worthy home? Or could just getting your home functional do the job?
I guarantee you, if you got rid of enough clutter to make things feel functional, you’re going to feel a heck of a lot better!
What to do when your house overwhelms you
So what do you do?
Here’s an example.
Maybe you have too many plates, so you simply use them all before you actually do the dishes.
This causes your sink to back up, which makes using your kitchen frustrating.
Then, you have two loads of dishes to cram into the dishwasher before you’re “caught up”.
Meanwhile, you are still eating off of plates that went through the first run of the dishwasher.
Begin never-ending frustrating clutter cycle.
You got rid of any plates beyond a dishwasher load?
Say you hide all but 6 or 8. Put them in a box in the garage for a week or two.
Then, see what happens.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be washing the same mug over and over to use it. I love my dishwasher.
However, if our level of clutter starts to make things frustrating, then life can get even more stressful.
Declutter for your health
Declutter for your health. Reduce the chaos and you will likely reduce anxiety and stress too.
You will feel calmer in your home, and you will have a place to relax, rather than continue to be stressed by the mess around you.