Messy home, messy mind – how taking care of your household improves mental health

We all know that bad mental health affects how we take care of our home and body. Stress, anxiety, depression – they all have this in common. They make it harder to care for yourself and your surroundings.

However it could work the other way around, too. Keeping a tidy, orderly home can have beneficial effect on your mental health. Various studies have proven that taking things off your housework to-do list helps ease the mental load.

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Cleaning and organising your home often result in decreasing stress and anxiety. Clutter is seen as “unfinished business” and this can add unnecessary stress. It also makes it difficult to focus on a particular task, especially if the clutter is in your visual field. This is mentally exhausting and leads to higher levels of tension and stress.  1

In a study from 2010, people who described their homes as cluttered were more likely to suffer from depression and chronic fatigue. In the same study people who described their home as tidy and restorative were more likely to have better mental health.

Order creates a sense of control

Having a clean and organised home helps you feel in control. And everyone who’s ever been in a bad mental health state knows how important the feeling of control is. Putting order to your household brings a level of satisfaction associated with being productive. Cleaning produces a tangible result that can easily be seen and felt. 

Clinical psychologist, Dawn Potter, PsyD shares in a podcast that “if a person with depression or with fatigue, or with some other barrier, can push themselves or can figure out ways to make it easier to clean up, to be organized, conversely, that may help with the depression, that may help with energy and focus”.

So creating the habit of keeping your home clean and organised has a beneficial effect on your mental health, your energy levels and consecutively your motivation as well.

As always – start small

  • Pick a small area, a shelf or a drawer, and put it in order. Choose something that would take you 5-10 minutes or less. Then continue with another area if you’d like. If not, pick the area you’ll do tomorrow.
  • Make sure you put everything in its place as you go. Don’t just throw the towel on the floor and create even more mess. Put it where it belongs. Creating the habit of putting things in their place will reduce the amount of cleaning and organizing you’ll have to do.
  • Clear out the things you do not need. Throw away or donate the items you don’t need. This will reduce the clutter and make room for the things you love. Less is more.

Taking care of your surroundings is taking care of you. It might be hard at first, espesially if you are already in a bad place mentally. But accomplishing even the smallest task will have you feel better.

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