The Effects of Clutter on Mental Health | World Mental Health Day 2021

October 4, 2021
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” — Fred Rogers

Have your unmentionables become unmanageable? 

As children, many of us were taught, sometimes through example, that hiding traditionally undesirable things about ourselves, our lives, or our feelings would make life easier. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.) 

Hide your sadness and just put on a happy face.

Hide your loneliness and just buy more stuff.

Hide your cluttered home and just shove everything into unseen spaces before company arrives.

Some of us became so good at hiding that we even began hiding things from ourselves. But something we weren't taught is that hiding behind a pretense of perfection is mentally exhausting at best and often debilitating. 

Mental health is a topic that affects all of us at some point in our lives. But it is also a topic that some consider taboo to discuss. So it’s one of those subjects that many of us tiptoe around or just avoid altogether. 

This Sunday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day, “an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma“. Since 1992, The World Federation for Mental Health has observed this day to raise international awareness about mental illness and its effect on people all over the world. 

For 2021 the World Mental Health Day theme is “Mental Health in an Unequal World”. WDFH has stated that they chose this topic because “it will highlight that access to mental health services remains unequal, with between 75% to 95% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries unable to access mental health services at all, and access in high-income countries is not much better. Lack of investment in mental health disproportionate to the overall health budget contributes to the mental health treatment gap.”

So, this seems like the perfect time to address the stigmas and embarrassment that comes with having clutter, particularly excessive amounts of clutter, and discuss how all this stuff affects our mental health.

First of all, you are not imagining it. When you live with any amount of clutter that is beyond your daily control, your mental health suffers. 

Maybe you feel a frequent sense of guilt about not being able to keep a tidy home. Or the thought of someone dropping by your house unannounced brings on feelings of anxiety and embarrassment.

The pile of paperwork on your desk may trigger feelings of panic. The thought of dealing with all the stuff in your attic, garage, or basement may cause an instant wave of nausea.

The human brain thrives in an ordered environment. When we are constantly living in a disorganized space, our cognitive abilities will start to decline.

Have you noticed that you can not focus as well on tasks in the cluttered parts of your home or office? 

In 2011, a neuroscientist research study concluded that being surrounded by an excessive amount of stuff reduced cognitive function. Clearing the clutter out of these spaces improved the participants' ability to focus on tasks and increased their productivity.

Clutter affects everyone negatively, but some women could be more mentally affected by mess than most men.

A research study done by U.C.L.A’.s Center on Everyday Lives & Families found a direct correlation between the cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in women homeowners and the amount of stuff in their homes while their male partners were not as bothered by the clutter or mess. The study also concluded that the women equated how organized and clean their homes were to the success and happiness levels of their families.

The personal relationships that we have with the loved ones in our lives play a huge role in our mental health, and clutter can cause wear and tear on emotional bonds with our friends and families in more ways than one. 

A messy and stressful environment can put an emotional strain on even the strongest of marriages. In 2016, a study at Cornell University found that background clutter can impair our ability to interpret emotional facial expressions. Misunderstanding emotional expression can leave loved ones feeling like they are not valued or heard. 

And clutter does not just haunt us during the hours when we are awake. It can also affect how well we sleep. A recent study on insomnia published in Sleep found that decluttering your environment before bed increases sleep quality and decreases sleep-related issues.

The Bottom Line

Mr. Rogers was right. 

When we stop hiding from the things that we feel are unmentionable, they become more manageable. 

Good mental health is a vital part of our overall well-being. If you do not feel well mentally, it is impossible for you to feel well physically. 

If you have read this far, take the next step and take control of the clutter plaguing your life. You don’t need to suffer for another minute, and we are here to support you and show you exactly how you can set yourself free from clutter for good.  

Together, we can address every single one of your clutter challenges along with the mindset you need to STAY organized in our 10-week series of LIVE, online classes. You’ll get the step-by-step instructions you need to make decisions with confidence and clarity. 

And you’ll also get the accountability that is so essential to actually doing the work. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all of us have already made too many promises to change our lives only to bail when it became time to start. 

That’s why you’ll get answers to all of your decluttering questions … and have some fun, too! Because, after all, it’s just stuff. Unless it’s literally a bear trap, it can’t really hurt you! And there is absolutely no risk to you because the program and your success comes with a money-back guarantee. Enroll in The Unstuff Your Life System® now.

Click Here To Learn More!
Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!