For some people, cleaning is an absolute nightmare. They’d much rather do anything else than spend a single moment of their time tidying, scrubbing, or sweeping. For others, however, it evokes quite the opposite reaction. To them, nothing relieves them of stress and anxiety more than cleaning.
To those of us who don’t enjoy this chore, the people who do can seem like they’re out of their minds. Despite that, there is a scientific reason behind it. Here’s why some people find cleaning relaxing.
The Science Behind It
A recent study was carried out by Darby Saxbe, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. In it, Saxbe investigated whether some people’s time spent at home felt restorative. As well as that, she also looked into why some people find that cleaning relieves stress. In it, she found that people who find their homes to be stressful have more depressed moods during the day. In contrast, those who find their homes to be peaceful have fewer depressed moods.
According to her “[Cleaning] gives people a sense of mastery and control over their environment.” In her opinion, it then makes sense why that would help people deal with anxiety. As she put it, “Life is full of uncertainty and many situations are out of our hands, but at least we can assert our will on our living space.” She also went on to state that “Clutter can be visually distracting, too, and serve as a nagging reminder of tasks and chores undone.”
Why This Doesn’t Work for Everyone
As we know all too well, most people find cleaning to be exhausting and stressful. Why is it that they don’t experience it in the same way that some others do? According to Saxbe, it may have to do with personality. She says that “Generally speaking, people who like to clean may be more conscientious and detail-oriented, while people who dislike it may be more spontaneous and less organized.”
Martin Lang, an evolutionary anthropologist at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, believes that it may have to do with evolution. His area of expertise is ritualistic behavior in humans and its relationship to evolution. He explained that “The human mind likes to predict things. When we lack control—or perceive that things are chaotic and unpredictable—we may experience anxiety.”
He then went on to explain how this can show itself in ways such as finding relaxation from cleaning. According to him, “[This anxiety] pushes us to take precautions and try to control our environment so there is nothing surprising that could potentially harm us.” Lang then added that “If there is order to the house or environment, we may feel safe and like we can move in the space.”
In some cases, feeling a need to clean can be a symptom of an underlying issue such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, in most cases, it’s simply a way that people relax. We can’t say for sure whether it’s an evolutionary impulse or because of personality. All we do know all is that it’s a form of meditation for many people.
Do you love or hate cleaning? Share this article with your friends and family to see what they think too.