There are times when I find myself standing in my living room and when I look at the dirty cups of coffee, dishes and bowls just laying there on my coffee table, the floor covered with my niece’s toys, and my clothes hanging on the chair and on literally every nook there is… I start having a panic attack.
I can exactly pinpoint whether it is sensory overwhelm, fatigue, or nervousness, but the way I react to clutter is more than mere frustration and anger. I immediately feel depressed and desperate. Of course, not every day, but there are days when I just feel like the room will close in on me. When I shared this with my friends, I was glad to find that many of them also have the same urge as me to eliminate the clutter because it was driving them crazy.
Luckily, psychologists found the reason for our “madness.” They found that mess and clutter are triggers for anxiety.
“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 explained in an article for Psychology Today.
She also added that even though the majority of people can’t notice it, clutter does play a significant role in stressing out everyone. Stress then overwhelms us with sensory input that is too hard to deal with. It bombards our minds and causes our senses to work harder on unnecessary stimuli.
Moreover, Bourg Carter believes that clutter makes us unable to focus on things that are important to us, it signals to our brain that our work is never done, it impedes our creativity and productivity, it makes it hard to relax physically or mentally, we can never find anything we are looking for and it makes us anxious because all we think is how we are going to clean up the mess.
A research conducted by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families found that anxiety and clutter have a female dominant component in common (Why am I not surprised?). Anyhow, researchers found that women whose homes are cluttered have higher levels of the hormone cortisol which is known as the stress hormone. In comparison, men do not get stressed out because of clutter.
The researchers say that they don’t know the exact reason why it is like that, but they suppose that it has something to do with the fact that women tend to associate a clean an organized home to be a happy place, whereas men don’t have those expectations. Or in other words, only women feel pressured to keep the house clean and tidy and freak out whenever things go out of hand.
And all this imposes the question of what we women can do to deal with the clutter effectively and lessen its effect on us. Well, there is no need to burn the house down because there is a silver lining:
– Get your family involved in cleaning. If you are alone, then start by cleaning one space at a time before you move on to another so that you don’t get tired and overwhelmed.
– Toss all the things you no longer use and need. If you haven’t used a thing for a year – throw it away!
– Design a special place for your items and put them in there. It is best if it can be closed so that you won’t have to look at it.
– Whenever you make a mess – clean it. It will immediately give you a sense of accomplishment, plus, your home will always be free of clutter.
Finally, everyone deserves to live in a nice and clutter-free home, but the burden should not fall only on the women’s shoulders.