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How a Cluttered Home Affects Your Overall Well-being

how a cluttered home affects your overall well-being
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Professional Home Organizer and Coach. I provide one-on-one home decluttering and organizing coaching.

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Sally Twellman is a life and wellness coach. Her programs help people truly transform their  body and lives through weight loss and wellness services. I personally have used and endorse all of Sally’s programs. They have helped me become fit and more mindful about my overall well being. You can learn more about these amazing services here: Sally Twellman, Life and Wellness Coach

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How a Cluttered Home Affects Your Overall Well-being

How a cluttered home affects your overall well-being

Wikipedia has a lofty definition of well-being as a general term for the condition of an individual or group, for example their social, economic, psychological, spiritual or medical state; a high level of well-being means in some sense the individual or group’s condition is positive, while low well-being is associated with negative happenings. But do we connect well-being with clutter and disorganization? Most would say no! Most folks tend to blow off decluttering and think that it is just a necessary evil and that their clutter does not affect them much. It does! And in profound ways. Clutter and chaos has been proven to directly undercut our emotional and physical well-being. In this post I will show you how a cluttered home affects your overall well-being.

Living in vast clutter and disorganization takes its toll, particularly on yours and your family’s well-being. What do I mean specifically about well- being? Well-being has four components: emotional, physical, spiritual and connection or connectedness. How many of us are working hard to increase our own and our families well-being? Everyone I talk to is. Most all folks that I visit with want a very high level of well-being in all of these four areas.

How a cluttered home affects your overall well-being-the physical and emotional costs

Well-being involves  your sacred space-your home. How will you treat your home if it is so important to your well-being? Meaning mood, emotions, thoughts and actions. How you relate to others, your family, coworkers and community. This first post in a series of four will focus on you emotional well-being, the clutter in your mind.

Research cited by Psychology Today  documents that “This cluttering-up process of repeatedly going over the unproductive and distressing thoughts in your mind, or rumination, was investigated in relation to measures of well-being by Manhattan College’s Kelly Marin and the University of Wisconsin’s Elena Rotondo (2017). Their study, in which college students recorded their stressful experiences over a three-day period, shows just how dysfunctional rumination can be. Having the correct mindset and focus is key to achieving the other three areas of well-being and should be worked on first. Setting your mind in the right direction and focus makes everything else fall into place easier. I wrote a post about achieving the right mindset and organization here in my blog. There are two facets to developing a decluttering mindset.   The first is to cut yourself slack and make note of how hard you have worked to make your home your castle. Changing your beliefs about decluttering and developing the mindset for successful organizing takes work. Congratulate  yourself on the work that you have done so far. Everyone does small forms of organization each day. The trick is to keep the momentum going and going and going in small increments. This is the first step in recognizing how a cluttered home affects your overall well-being and taking the initiative to decluttering and re-organizing your sacred space-your home.

Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted in the January issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that relates directly to uncluttered and organized living. From their report “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex”:

Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.

Or, to paraphrase in non-neuroscience jargon: When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.

The clutter competes for your attention in the same way a toddler might stand next to you annoyingly repeating, “candy, candy, candy, candy, I want candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy …” Even though you might be able to focus a little, you’re still aware that a screaming toddler is also vying for your attention. The annoyance also wears down your mental resources and you’re more likely to become frustrated. Refer to this link at Unclutter.com for further information.

Next Steps-A simple assignment

Now that we know how clutter affects our emotional well-being, I plan on writing three more posts on its effect on your physical, and sense of community or connectedness to others.

We will take time to reflect on what you need and want from each area of your home and what each space brings to you and what your well-being demands from them.  Your assignment is to make a list of each area/room and write down what that room does for your well-being. How does it support you and what do those spaces need to look like in order to fully support you and your families well-being? Feel free to start a journal or notebook just for this purpose so that you can refer back to it and modify as necessary. Happy journaling!

See you soon!

Rebecca

 

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  • My first response is to forward this to my mom—-she isn’t a hoarder, but definitely has a ton of clutter around. But I also know she’s not going to change unless she wants to—ugh!!
    Hopefully soon though….
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Rebecca Phillips

      Ah, yes Jodie. You are right. She has to want to do it. Say, I have a new program where I teach folks how to “Story Tell” their things. Instead of keeping everything, they sort them into must keep or maybe keep. The maybe keep they can take a pic, write a short paragraph/story about it and then donate it or dispose of it. Kind of like journaling….

      • That’s such a great idea, Rebecca!! We are getting together with my cousin next month who’s mom just passed. She’s going to tell both my mom’s about how hard it was to get rid of the things that were collected. Both my cousin and I are hoping it makes them want to start purging a little. And if so…this will be a great start!!
        XOXO

  • The “candy, candy, candy” analogy really resonates with me. It is very hard to focus when somebody is always talking to you, and in a way, this is exactly what clutter does!

    • Rebecca

      This research resonated with me too Seana. Was glad as I am just beginning to find more and more of it out there and it so supports our cause. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Julie Bestry

    I love that you use research in psychology as the underpinnings for advice. I know that when I hit a wall on any kind of project, I know that refreshing my surroundings and decluttering will give me a new perspective.

    Of course, after reading this, now I want candy. Candy. Candy.

    • Rebecca

      Just love the analogy too Julie. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Melissa Hatcher

    Simple makes life easier. Clutter messes with simple. Great post! Can’t wait for the next posts!!!

    • Yes Melissa. I agree. I plan on posting about how journaling helps organize our homes and how to organize the garage and basements. Thanks for stopping by.

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