The Bigger the Mess, the Greater the Stress: Declutter Your Home in Three Easy Ways

“Clutter is in the eye of the beholder. The people who talked about it were the ones who had the cortisol response,” Darby Saxbe, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Southern California, told The New York Times.

Saxbe is the lead author of a 2010 study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concerning coregulation of couples’ cortisol levels and mood states. According to Saxbe, “women in the study who described their home as being cluttered or needing work began their day stressed and remained stressed.”

Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America

That means these women with cluttered homes had increased levels of cortisol — the primary stress hormone — throughout the day. Husbands who also did a lot of housework in the evening showed the same heightened level of cortisol. However, it’s always been the women who devote more time to household chores and experience a lot of stress.

Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, likewise remarked, “Clutter is an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces.”

Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America

In a study he did with Catherine Roster that was published in Current Psychology in 2017, they found a strong connection between procrastination and clutter. Further, as a person ages, frustration with clutter also increases. Interestingly, the study also showed that problems with clutter are linked to life dissatisfaction among older people.

Meanwhile, Verywellmind listed lower quality of life, difficulty in restraining impulses, and difficulty in relationships to be among the negative impacts of clutter on mental health.

So how do you get rid of clutter?

Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America

Well, there are three easy ways to do it, according to Michele Vig, founder and chief organizer at Neat Little Nest, as published on FamilyHandyman:

  1. Separate clutter by category. Instead of decluttering room by room, Vig recommended gathering and grouping items like “clothes,” “books.” “toys,” etc. That way, it becomes easier to decide where each category must be placed.
  2. Decide which to keep and which you must let go. Now, in decluttering, this is the most difficult part, because of the sentiments we’ve attached to our possessions. But Vig suggested that it could be easier if we use these two filters: Joy and Service. We’d be asking ourselves how much joy an item brings us, or how much service it provides.

    Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America

    “When you put items through those two filters, you will be left with things that provide you both great joy and important service and will be able to let the remaining items go,” explained Vig
  3. .

  4. Organize. Vig advised to put like with like. Also, you should begin with the big items, then subdivide them as necessary. You can use bins, baskets, and other storage containers for those items that fall under sub-categories in case of limited space. You may also want to create new storage systems for other spaces, like the garage.

Yes, it’s hard to let go of things we own. But we should love our health more.

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