Oftentimes, at the end of the day, I find myself standing in my living room which is covered in my boyfriend’s dirty clothes, half-filled cups, bowls, and plates filled with crumbs on the coffee table – I literally go crazy and start panicking.
I am not sure if I am visually overwhelmed, fatigued, or enraged, or all of that – but, my reaction to mess goes way beyond an eye-roll. I feel desperate, desperate, and doomed. Yes, I know this may sound too extreme, but that’s how I feel. That is my reaction to clutter.
So, I decided to dig a little deeper and find out about my condition. And I discovered that my reaction to clutter is, in fact, an anxiety attack. In fact, there is a scientific evidence that clutter triggers anxiety.
“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,” explains Sherrie Bourg Carter, a psychologist.
She says that even though many people don’t understand it, clutter can indeed stress people out. Because “clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important,” adds Bourg Carter.
Moreover, clutter also makes us unfocused because it makes us think that we will never get our work done. It kills our productivity and creativity and makes us nervous and anxious. In fact, I am feeling anxious and I start panicking just by seeing the clutter and thinking about it.
And I guess I am not the only one. Dr. Sherman, a psychologist, writes: “Emotional baggage has a way of building up, and then expressing itself in an outward display of turmoil — as if a tornado had let loose in your brain and your surroundings.”
And according to one study conducted by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families, cluttered homes make women more stressed because clutter releases more cortisol (the stress hormone).
On the other hand, men don’t suffer from this condition. The reason might be that women are associating their perfect home with one that is tidy and neat, while men do not have these expectations (lucky for them).
So, what can we do about it?
I think that the most important thing is to involve other people. Because, as for me, the thing that stresses me out the most is the feeling that nobody cares about the mess. I want my boyfriend to be conscious of this and to take this situation seriously and clean up his mess.
So, the best way is to openly speak with them about this. Express your feelings on the subject and tell them how clutter makes you feel. I am sure that they will understand if they care about you and they will help you.