People say that the way your home looks inside can be a reflection on what you feel inside. When we are feeling overwhelmed in our minds, it can overflow into our everyday lives. Mental health is something we have been taking more seriously in the last few years and its finally getting the attention it deserves. 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in their life. The connection with cleaning and mental health is something very intriguing. Who would think that cleaning can actually help manipulate your perceived anxiety.
First we need to understand what mess and clutter does to your brain and mental state.
Clutter can lead to depression and anxiety. When we visually see clutter, we can start to feel overwhelmed. A study in the "personality and social psychology bulletin" states that women who described their living spaces as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more likely to be fatigued and depressed. Women's homes that were clean and tidy described their homes as restful and restorative.
When your home is cluttered, it can raise your levels of cortisol. What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone naturally released from your adrenal glands with many essential functions for your health. One of the many roles that cortisol has is regulating your stress levels. When your cortisol levels are high, it actually starts shutting down other systems, and only using those that are essential in a high stress situation. Think of clutter as small micro doses of stress. When we walk into our homes we do not want to have any extra stressors.
Clutter is "visual noise." Visual noise is any random visual stimulant. Just like your ears send electrical signals to your brain when sound is present, your eyes constantly send electrical signals to your brain when visual stimuli is present. The more physical clutter that surrounds us, the more visual noise we experience. When visual noise is present it can be more difficult to make decisions. You have an increased likelihood of procrastination and prevents your brain from focusing properly. Clutter can feel like unfinished business and lack of completeness. Since clutter is overwhelming, what can we do to begin so called "clearing the clutter."?
Cleaning can act as a meditation. When we start moving it can be calming, soothing and very peaceful. Becoming more mindful when you clean can also help you relax. "Mindfulness" is about conscious awareness. When you are doing the dishes, really focus on doing the dishes. Feel the warm water on your skin, the sound of the scrubbing of the sponge, visually see the grease and grime disappear before your eyes. Being completely present in the moment can make the experience of cleaning much more enjoyable.
An article in www.goodhousekeeping.com states that 70% of Americans say tidying their homes gives them a sense of accomplishment. 61% say they feel distressed, 54% say they experience relaxation. After cleaning you may feel that everything is once again exiting and NEW. You will have a feeling of peace wash over you. When you declutter your physical space, you declutter your mind. A recent article on recovery.org states that ,"those with cleaner houses reported greater levels of health compared to those with more cluttered homes." So not only will you feel better mentally, you will also be protecting your health physically and hygienically.
Cleaning promotes a sense of control and a calming effect by the engagement of cognitive capacity in a repetitive activity. We can manipulate our anxiety by cleaning. If you have high anxiety, it can be helpful to use cleaning as a coping mechanism. Studies have shown that having habits that are repetitive and redundant can help ease anxiety.
Cleaning your bedroom can also promote better sleep. When your room is cluttered, once again this will bring extra stress. When we wake up in the morning and the first thing we see is clutter, how do you think it will be affecting your day and mood?
Finally if we start to develop healthy cleaning habits we will see an increase in:
-better sleep quality
If we are stressed and feeling a lot of anxiety inside of our minds, a good place to start the healing process, is to start cleaning up our environment around us.
Make a list of every room and closet that needs to be taken care of. Make a plan for the week, or months ahead. Look back to our blog on a cleaning schedule. benefits-of-a-weekly-cleaning-schedule.html
Take your time.
You may look at your list and become overwhelmed. Focus on one spot and get moving. Do not move from this spot until you are complete. Make it a goal to complete a task start to finish.
Stay completely present when you are cleaning. Any sensations that may come up when you see or smell something, let them surface and be completely aware of how you feel. No feeling or emotion is bad, just temporary.