Order in your home is order in your mind. We asked a psychologist and decluttering coach why cleaning and decluttering is good for your mental health.
Our lives are busy and overwhelming enough. When you come home, you especially want to be able to relax. This has been proven to work best in an organized and clean home. What exactly this means varies of course from person to person. Some people are more sensitive to clutter than others, but either way, the fewer things in the house that require your attention, the better you can relax.
Laura Antonacci, clinical psychologist and professional strength and sensitivity coach: “Seeing clutter, such as a basket full of laundry that still needs to be folded, signals to our body that there is still something to do. This creates mental stress, causing the body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, among other things. This can be It has a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. It is also possible that you are shy of clutter, so you prefer not to invite people to your home. This even leads to isolation and depressive feelings.
System at home can be good for your mental health, but if you’re too fanatical about it, it can also have a negative impact. If you are too much of a perfectionist in your home, this can also lead to stress. Let’s say you’re about to leave for a dinner party, but there are still dishes waiting for you. Do you find it difficult to let go? Then ask yourself what your priorities are: spending a relaxing evening with friends or washing the dishes as quickly as possible?
The desire for control often plays a role as well. If you see a lot of objects or clutter scattered, it can make you feel like you are losing vision and control. This causes unrest and stress. Seeing an organized space or an organized closet brings peace to our minds and provides more mental space.
Our brain can only process a limited number of stimuli. The more chaos, the more distraction.
The reason we are more sensitive to other people’s messes is because we have less control over them. Additionally, it can affect you more deeply if someone doesn’t put their things away even though you’ve asked them to do so several times already. This can give you the feeling that you are not important enough or that this person does not take you into consideration.
“All we see are the triggers.” Unfortunately, our brain can only process a limited number of stimuli, so the more things around you, the more distracting you will be and the less able you will be to focus. That’s why it’s so important to keep your workspace tidy and simple, so you can focus on your work. You also prefer to keep your entrance hall tidy, because if a messy hall is the first thing you see when you return home, your stress level will rise immediately.’
Hiding does not mean tidying up
Items that are difficult to place often lie longer. Cleaning instructor Nelly Cooley: “Unconsciously, these things require your attention all the time, and this causes stress. Just because you quickly put something in the closet and put it out of your sight does not mean that it has been removed. On the contrary, because you will probably add more things later, and the clutter will increase. ‘Give everything a place and make sure that place is logical, practical and clear. This reduces the barrier of putting things away. You still have to put them somewhere, but it will be easier and require less effort.’
Give everything a practical and clear place. This reduces the barrier of putting things away.
Two minute rule
“My rule is: If I can get something in the right place in a minute or two, I should do it right away. I wonder how long it takes to punch through papers and put them in a folder. The answer: Not long. So you have no excuse for putting it off.”
Not usually feminine
“In old studies we saw mainly complaints of depression in women due to the disorder, but it is different today. In 2010, another study was conducted, and it showed that it is not so much about gender as about the person who plays the most important role in the family and therefore bears the responsibility for maintaining The house has to be tidy, so it’s possible that the man is more stressed about this.
More things, more worries
Today we have more things than ever before because everything is more easily available. This means that in our busy lives, we have to manage not only our time but all our possessions as well. “Organization is a skill that wasn’t very important in the past, but is essential today. There’s so much coming at us, which makes it more difficult to maintain focus and attention. In addition to tidying up, getting rid of clutter can help bring more peace to your home and mind. By getting rid of things, you make a lot of decisions. It is not only a tidy home that gives you peace, but also the overview you get and the heaviness that is removed from things that remain lying around and subconsciously demanding your attention. Deciding that you no longer need something or that you will do something with it gives you a lot of peace of mind and energy at the same time. Getting rid of clutter frees up time, money, space, and energy.
Getting rid of clutter frees up time, money, space, and energy.
Moreover, you will also be more aware of your possessions. Even people who don’t care much about sustainability still contribute in this way. This is also good for your mental health, because if you do something good for the planet, it makes you happier.
3 questions for the cleaning expert
How can you help someone clean and get rid of clutter?
Indigo: ‘We come in first for an introduction and walk around the house to see what works and what doesn’t. Then we will agree on a time to start working together. We review things together and ask questions, but we will never push anyone in a certain direction. We give everything that remains a constant, clear and defined place and that is why we work regularly with containers and baskets. We also work with labels so that everything is clear to everyone who lives there. Then, we basically try to make ourselves redundant, because naturally you want people to be able to work on their own and keep everything organized. This often involves some type of behavioral change, because you have to find a system that works for you, your family, and your family.
What questions should we ask ourselves when we want to get rid of things?
“These are some of my favorite questions to help make the decision a little easier:
- When was the last time this was held?
- What happens if you throw it away?
- Why would I want to keep this? Is this a valid reason?
- What will I do with it?
- When will I use it?
- Do I need it?
- Can I borrow it?’
Finally: Which room(s) should you tackle first?
“This is a very personal thing, but the kitchen is often a good place to start, because you spend a lot of time there every day. Make sure all the cabinets and refrigerator are well organized, so everyone knows where everything is and can help unpack the groceries. The wardrobe also serves as Quick win, because usually you only have to work hard for one day and you can enjoy it every day.
Don’t forget: your mailbox and (digital) management are also important to handle and provide instant satisfaction. If you work on this for one day, everything will be cleaned up and you will have more peace of mind.’
Cleaning coach Neil Cooley wrote the book Gomo! The joy of loss. “Peace in your home, balance in your life, and space in your head.” It contains a lot of tips for decluttering your home and getting more space in your head.
Text: Charlotte De Luce, with thanks to arrangement coach Neil Cooley and clinical psychologist Laura Antonacci