A full 70% of Americans say tidying their home offers them a feeling of accomplishment, 61% say it makes them feel "de-stressed," 54% say they experience "relaxation,” 47% say they feel more “productive” and 31% say they feel more “confident”. According to a survey of 2,000 adults released by OfferUp (a marketplace for local buyers and sellers in the U.S.).
In my home the general approach is disorganized home=disorganized mind. When your mind is occupied and overrun with thoughts, tasks, deadlines and every day minutiae and you come home to an office space or environment that is overflowing with stuff and dust you quickly feel overwhelmed. My mind craves breathing room, space and orderliness—an environment that is soothing and conducive to focus and concentration. After all, if we can’t control anything else in this world we can control the state of our bedroom. The bedroom is the top choice for de-cluttering, with the living room and garage second and third respectively.
On a subconscious level, clutter is likely to be linked with negative emotions (confusion, tension, irritability, worry) whereas a clean space is more likely to be linked with positive emotions (happiness, calm, a sense of well being), explains Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., psychologist and author of High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout.
"In our minds, we view clutter as unfinished business, and this lack of completeness is unsettling and stressful to most people," Dr. Carter states. Furthermore, she adds that this is the main reason why real estate agents suggest home sellers tidy up their residence. "Prospective buyers try to visualize themselves living in a home, and the negativity associated with clutter makes it feel like a place where they wouldn't feel comfortable or wouldn't be happy."
There’s some science behind the connection between cleaning and decreased anxiety, as well. A small study published in the journal Mindfulness found that participants who engaged in mindfully washing the dishes—meaning they took a moment to inhale the scent of the soap and to allow their skin to absorb the warmth of the water — reported a 27% reduction in nervousness, along with a 25% improvement in "mental inspiration."
Lastly, Dr. Carter emphasizes that devoting any amount of time to cleaning and de-cluttering — even 10 minutes per day — can help minimize anxiety.
"You’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish. I bet you can unload your dishwasher, reload it, and clean off your counter in 10 minutes,” Dr. Clark says. "There is no shame in outsourcing chores, but right under our nose are these opportunities to get rid of everyday stressors. It’s really empowering."
If you're at wits end (70% of all Americans reported arguing with a partner about clutter) we have a pretty healthy list of vendors that can help you with clean outs if you prefer to pay someone to do it for you. Contact us and we can supply you with contact information. If not, have at it! And if you are a Florida resident, be prepared because, according to the OfferUp report, you are 10% more likely to argue about clutter that the national average.