how a cluttered home affects your overall well-being

Cluttered Can Make You Sick

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 have 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 your and your family’s well-being. What do I mean specifically by 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 family’s well-being? Everyone I talk to is. Most folks that I visit want an extremely important level of well-being in all these four areas.

how a cluttered home affects your overall well-being
Good Old-fashioned Planner

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, co-workers, and community. This first post in a series of four will focus on your 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 declutter and re-organize 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 correlation for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.

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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 WebMD 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, 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 to fully support you and your family’s well-being? Feel free to start a journal or notebook just for this purpose so that you can refer to it and modify it as necessary. Happy journaling!

See you next time!

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