cleaning and mental health

I find it very fitting that October is mental health month. Autumn is well on the way, the weather is even worse than usual, and your motivation is at an all-time low.

Yet these are mundane struggles most of us grapple with from time to time. They’re nothing compared to the real problems people with mental health issues face every day.

Volunteering at a mental health centre a few years ago helped me appreciate their strength and resilience in the face of an enemy they cannot escape or hide from. 

But I don’t want this article to take a dark turn. This is not my intention. On the contrary – I want to talk about some things we can do to avoid lessen the hold of these problems on our being.

While it’s no cure for mental health issues, cleaning can often help. Some days, even cleaning your room feels like an accomplishment and has an uplifting effect. So I want to talk a bit more about the relationship between cleaning and mental health.

In this article:

  • Negative effects of clutter and mess
    • Clutter may be a contributing factor to depression
    • Clutter leads to tension and confusion
  • Mental health benefits of cleaning
    • Cleanliness improves your mood
    • Helps you gain control of your environment
    • Increases your focus and concentration
  • How to integrate cleaning into your life
    • Start by doing something small
    • Pick the right music
    • Hire outside help

Negative effects of clutter and mess

Like it or not, our environment has a huge influence on us. It can change our mood, energise us, or completely wreck our concentration.

And it goes deeper. Clutter and mess can have a profound impact on our mental health and even contribute to serious conditions like anxiety and depression.

Clutter may be a contributing factor to depression

In a 2010 study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin scientists looked at the relationship between clutter and depression. They used linguistic analysis software to divide study subjects into groups after self-guided tours of their homes.

They found women who described their homes as cluttered and full of unfinished projects were more stressed and more likely to be depressed than women who described their homes as restorative and restful. Even the cortisol (stress hormone) levels of the two groups were different.

The way you view your home has a profound effect on how you feel. And let’s be honest – coming home after a hard day at work and being met with clutter at the door does little in terms of restoration. It’s hard to have a positive outlook on life when your domestic environment is in disarray. 

Clutter leads to tension and confusion

A 2011 study at Princeton University demonstrates clutter makes it more difficult to concentrate. If you’re working in a messy room, you’re going to be less productive. Especially if the clutter is within your visual field.

In some cases, clutter and mess are linked to negative emotions like confusion, tension, and irritability. On the other hand, an organized home tends to produce more positive emotions like calmness and a sense of well-being. 

This finding suggests a clear link between clutter, productivity, and negative emotions. In this era of home offices and distance learning, it’s becoming even more crucial to declutter our homes.

Mental health benefits of cleaning

With such negative effects of clutter and mess on our well-being, it makes sense that cleaning and decluttering should offer a ton of benefits. And the good news is they do.

Cleanliness improves your mood

Who doesn’t enjoy living in a clean and tidy environment? In most cases, walking into a clean room is enough to give you a sense of order and well-being.

Furthermore, a clean home can help reduce your anxiety. You can use cleaning as a sort of a mindful, meditative practice. But merely sitting in a clean room has its benefits.

Other studies show people sleep better when they slip into clean sheets. These are small things but they have a tremendous effect on our well-being.

Helps you gain control of your environment

We live in turbulent times, but cleaning is one of the things that we do have control over. In fact, cleaning has been shown to give people a way to cope with anxiety by giving them back a sense of control. Don’t neglect it.

Increases your focus and concentration

Decluttering has been shown to improve focus and concentration. If you’re having a hard time staying on point, then maybe you should consider your environment. Is it neat and tidy? Or is it cluttered and messy?

If it’s the latter, then decluttering and organising may be the solution you’ve been looking for.

How to integrate cleaning into your life

In most cases, cleaning is easier said than done. With work, commute, and all other responsibilities in your life, it’s not that easy to stay on top of this important chore. But there are a few things you can do to improve.

Start by doing something small

You don’t climb Mount Everest in a day (it actually takes about two months) and you don’t eat an elephant in a single bite (relax, it’s a metaphor). Start small and work your way up.

If you’re having a hard time keeping your home clean, start with one room. In case that seems overwhelming, start by making your bed in the morning or cleaning your desk.

The important thing is to start doing something so you can work up the habit. When it starts getting easier, then you can add more tasks to the list.

Pick the right music

Like the environment, music has a very profound effect on us. Picking the right music can make or break a cleaning session. Create a playlist that motivates you to get things done and gets into you that accomplishment mindset. Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Side note: if you’re not a music lover, then find some interesting audiobook or a podcast. Also works like a charm.

Hire outside help

Finally, you can outsource your cleaning if it still feels too much. Modern life can get complicated so it’s completely understandable why sometimes you feel overwhelmed. Or why you have a hard time juggling all your responsibilities.

We can’t make your stress and anxiety disappear, but we can help clean your home. And that’s at least a step in the right direction.

Disclaimer: Samyx Cleaning is a cleaning company and this is a cleaning blog. None of the advice above should be interpreted as medical advice. If you have any medical or mental health problems, make an appointment with your general physician or a mental health specialist. It’s OK to ask for help.

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant - Atanas

Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.