Science confirms: Clutter causes depression and anxiety

When I was a kid, my mom would totally flip out every time I left so much as a sock on the floor. And over the years, I’ve developed her Type-A tendencies. The second I see dog hair (which is like, a lot of seconds of every day), I vacuum it up. A book out of place? I can’t go to bed knowing it’s crooked. And while I may seem like an anxiety-ridden mess based on all that, I might actually be onto something here.

In fact, scientists have found that messes actually increase cortisol, which is the stress hormone. In short, your and your kids’ messes are driving you nuts.

So what gives?

“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives,” Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter explains.

Here are six reasons why psychologists are linking messes to distress:

1. Clutter makes our senses go into overdrive.

2. Messes are distracting.

3. Messy homes tell our brains subconsciously that our work is never done.

4. It keeps us endlessly writing “to-do” lists.

5. Clutter impedes creativity.

6. Digging through messes makes it really easy to lose stuff that we need.

According to researchers from UCLA, women have a more significant cortisol response to messes than men, meaning that ladies, we just can’t deal with all that clutter!

The good news is that there’s a really good way to get rid of this anxiety: Just clean! It’s as simple as that. Here are some tips via D.G. Sciortino at Shareably that you can incorporate into your routine!

  • Get your family involved in cleaning. If you’re on your own, start in one space at a time before you move on to another so that you don’t get overwhelmed and can feel accomplished as you progress.
  • Create a specific space for your items so you’re more likely to keep the item in its designated space. It’s best to keep items in closed spaces so you don’t have to look at it.
  • Throw away things that you don’t use or that you don’t need. If you haven’t opened it or used it in a year, toss it!
  • Clean up your mess after you make it. It will give you a nice sense of closure and will be clean when you return to it.

And there you have it, folks. Scientific evidence that your mom was really hitting on something big when she told you to clean your room!