Mums, you're not imagining it: Clutter does make you anxious

Mums, you're not imagining it: Clutter does make you anxious

If you've ever wondered if mess and stress were linked, read on.

Have you ever had that feeling like you can't relax until everything is clean and tidy? (As much as it can be in a household with kids, that is.) Or felt like a messy house is contributing to your stress levels? 

Turns out there's an actual, scientific reason behind your frustrations: clutter and mess actually cause anxiety.

“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognised as a significant source of stress in our lives,” psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote in an article for Psychology Today.

clutter causes anxiety

She then goes on to list the eight main reasons why mess and stress are linked. 

8 reasons why clutter causes anxiety and mess = stress 
  • It makes us work overtime. According to Carter, clutter bombards the mind with extra stimuli, meaning we have to work harder to process it all. 
  • It's distracting. As anyone with a messy house or workplace can attest, clutter can steal our attention away from what our focus SHOULD be on. 
  • It makes it more difficult to relax. Enough said. 
  • It makes us feel like we're not getting anywhere.  According to Carter, clutter or mess constantly send signals to the brain that our work is never done. 

clutter causes anxiety

  • It makes us anxious. This feeling of 'I'm not getting anywhere' can also lead to anxiety, as we are never sure how or when we're going to do everything that needs to be done. 
  • It makes us guilty. Ahh, good old mum guilt. Should have seen this one coming. But having a messy house can make us feel guilty and like we should be doing more. It can also cause embarrassment if you have unexpected visitors. 
  • It inhibits creativity. Open spaces have been shown to help people to think, brainstorm and problem solve, so having a messy area would actually inhibit your creative juices and productivity. 
  • It frustrates us. Oh boy, can I relate. Have you ever tried to find something important in a messy room, desk or garage? Ugh. 

clutter causes anxiety

Clutter causes anxiety: Here's how to tackle the issue

Luckily, if there's one thing we know about mess, it's that it can be tidied up. Carter even provided handy tips on how best to get it done. 

These include getting the whole family involved, getting rid of things you no longer use or need, and returning items to their designated places after use. (Ha, try getting the kids to take that one on board!) 

She also advises creating a 'pending folder' for any projects that can wait, and taking a strong approach to paper waste. 

"Random papers strewn everywhere can be Public Enemy #1 when it comes to stressful clutter," she wrote.

"We're inundated with mail, flyers, menus, memos, newspapers, and the like. The key is to be conscious of what you bring and what others bring into your spaces. Go through these papers as soon as you can, tossing what you don't need and storing what is necessary in its proper place."

This article was republished with permission from Kidspot.

Also READ:Why are mums tired all the time?

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