Clutter and wellbeing

How does clutter increase stress levels?

Clutter isn’t often recognised as a source of stress but it can make a major impact on our health and wellbeing:

  • As well as overtaking our physical space, clutter can overtake our minds as it causes our senses to work overtime to try to process what needs to be done
  • Following on from this, it is then difficult to focus on tasks as clutter is distracting
  • It can cause frustration when items can’t be located quickly or easily
  • It can make us feel guilty or embarrassed that we are not able to “get organised” or invite friends round because of the mess. This can make us self critical and potentially unsociable.
  • Clutter creates anxiety when people feel that they are unable to get on top of it or get to the bottom of the pile

How does clutter affect concentration and sleep?

Interestingly, several studies have shown that seeing clutter sends a signal to our brains that our work or tasks are unfinished which in turn makes it difficult to relax or fall asleep. A cluttered space makes you feel restless. People with a cluttered bedside table are likely to have more interrupted sleep, go to sleep later and wake up earlier.

Clutter’s impact on our senses makes it difficult for us to focus on important or difficult tasks and can invade both our physical and mental space which stops us thinking creatively and productively.

What are the main benefits of decluttering?

There’s a fantastic quote by the American philosopher and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer:

“As I unclutter my life, I free myself to answer the callings of my soul.”

I think this best sums up the benefits of decluttering. Many people think that it’s about getting rid of or throwing things away but I encourage people to focus on what it adds to your life:

  • Time – being able to find things quickly and easily.
  • Space – the majority of people have enough storage space. Decluttering creates additional space in your home.
  • Clarity and focus – decluttering removes a cause of stress and worry
  • Happiness – I ask clients to think about how they feel once they’ve organised and sorted their wardrobe. Apply that to bigger areas / spaces and you can see how decluttering improves your mood.

Where would you suggest people start with decluttering and when is it a good idea to seek a professional organiser and decluttering expert?

As with most projects, it’s probably a good idea to start off small. Pick a drawer or cupboard and start with that to ascertain how easy you find it to sort through your belongings and decide what is important and whether you can sort and organise them in a logical way that works for you.

One of the main reasons that Clear the Clutter’s clients get in touch is when they feel that a decluttering project is too big to be faced alone or there is a strong emotional attachment to objects and belongings that people feel controlled by. Having an independent opinion or somebody to support decision making often gives clients the legitimacy to let go of things that have been weighing them down or holding them back.