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Is Clutter Putting Your Health at Risk?

Studies show it could have detrimental effects.


Feeling under the weather? The cause might be as simple as the drawer full of junk in your kitchen and the messy cupboard beneath your stairs.

Stressed about the mess?

Recent studies have shown that women with cluttered houses have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, raging through their bodies, compared to women who have tidy houses. This excess stress can cause feelings of helplessness and defeat. 

According to Dr. Pamela Peeke, a senior medical correspondent for Discovery Health, stress impacts our bodies. “It affects almost every single tissue and organ in your body,” she explains. A study conducted by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin even found that people with cluttered homes were more likely to be depressed and fatigued.

If your mental health has taken a nosedive, try organizing your mess — you might feel less overwhelmed afterward.

Breathe deeply.

More clutter means more dust, according to the Alliance for Healthy Homes. And a dusty house is a breeding ground for dust mites, microscopic organisms that trigger serious health issues like asthma, allergies, and eczema.

But it’s not just a matter of sneezing, scratching, and wheezing. Extremely dangerous contaminants, like pesticides and lead, have also been found in dust.

To breathe easier, run a damp cloth over the surfaces in your home, vacuum your floors and furniture, and consider investing in an air filter.

Get in the mood.

The last thing you want to see when you’re trying to relax is a pile of kids’ toys at the bottom of your bed and clean laundry that hasn’t been put away yet. 

After a busy day, the bedroom should be your haven, where you and your partner can escape for intimacy and relaxation. So it should come as no surprise that clutter can cause a dwindled sex life.

Studies have shown that people won’t have sex in the house is dirty or messy. Even clutter that’s been stuffed inside a cupboard can affect romantic feelings.

And it’s not just sex that’s affected — compulsive hoarders have higher rates of divorce. Thankfully, reigniting the spark is as simple as making your bed. A neat bed will expose mess in the room, making it easier for you to identify. And according to Peter Walsh, a professional organizer, “when clutter is clear, the sparks start flying!”

It can weigh you down.

Studies have shown that a cluttered environment leads to people snacking on unhealthy foods and forgoing exercise. According to physician Dr. Eva Selhub, “Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you’re more likely to resort to coping mechanisms such as comfort foods or overeating.”

On top of overindulging, messiness deters people from exercise as well. If your treadmill is a clothes rack and your yoga mat has been shoved in the corner, then you’re unlikely to use them.

If you keep on top of your clutter, then cleaning up the mess should only take a few minutes, giving you plenty of time to exercise afterward

How to Declutter Like Marie Kondo

Japanese organization expert Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her hit TV show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and her decluttering technique, The KonMari Method. 

According to Kondo, we should sort through the clutter in categories — instead of moving room to room — starting with clothes, then books, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items. Marie adds that if an object doesn’t “spark joy,” then it should be discarded.

After the success of Marie’s show, millions of people became obsessed with the mess that was cluttering up their houses. But tidying up doesn’t just make your house look nice — it can also improve your health and wellbeing.

6 Steps to a Healthier Life

  1. Imagine your ideal lifestyle. 
  2. Commit yourself to tidy up and don’t give up. 
  3. Finish discarding before organizing what’s leftover. 
  4. Clean in categories, not room to room. 
  5. Ask yourself if each item sparks joy. 
  6. Make sure every single object you own has its own place inside your house.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.

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