How Clutter Impacts Your Mental Health

We are all acutely aware of clutter. Over time, clutter invades our home, our work, and even our cars. The unintentional build-up of stuff can, over time, impact more than the cleanliness of our home. Recent studies have shown that clutter can also impact the quality of your overall mental health as well.

Did you know that your home or workspace clutter can have a variety of unappealing side effects?

Physical Health

Clutter releases a brain chemical called cortisol. This is the same chemical that is released when a person is under stress or feeling anxiety or depression. This triggers our ‘lizard brain’, the area responsible for our fight or flight response. This lowers an individual’s ability to make sound decisions and to achieve a positive, focused mental state. These sorts of physical triggers can impact other areas of our physical health, related to how we handle stress. This could mean an increase in coping behaviors such as over-eating or substance abuse. In addition, people with clutter are more likely to have sleep behavior issues as well.

Mental & Brain Health

While one pile of papers is unlikely to send you into a mental health crisis, there is evidence that the visuals of a disorganized space can, over time, drain a person’s cognitive resources. Area clutter is more than simply a visual distraction, it also causes cognitive overload and has an impact on memory. 

Another study focusing on the impact of clutter on a person’s productivity found that an organized work environment resulted in an individual’s ability to focus and stay on task. 

Emotional Health

Stress, anxiety, and depression can all be enhanced by the clutter that surrounds us. Clutter has a direct impact on the peace of your environment. Over time, the release of cortisol can cause other physical side effects including anxiety, depression, decreased sex drive, mood swings, and high blood pressure. Your home should be your sanctuary and this simply isn’t likely if your space is messy. This is especially true if the clutter surrounding you is bothersome and stressful.

None of these side effects cover the productivity and time loss associated with working in a cluttered and disorganized environment. 

If these are all great reasons to get organized, we aren’t sure what would be! The good news is that there are qualified professionals that can help you tackle your clutter and get organized in no time. If you want to find out more, you can check out the National Association of Productivity & Organizing (NAPO) to find a qualified professional near you.


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