How to Conquer Home Clutter, Dirt and Stress
Dirty, unorganized homes increase stress levels. Piles of mess are unpleasant, things get buried and hard to find when you need them and then you live in fear that someone will stop by to visit and be mortified by your lack of organization and cleanliness.
It doesn’t have to be this way.Although cleaning requires an investment of time and a little hard work, it pays off exponentially in a spotless, organized home and stress-free life.
How dirt creates stress
When our homes are dirty and cluttered, we feel less in control of our environment. This creates mini-stress events that multiply over time. Little areas of uncleanliness, like dust bunnies along a baseboard and dirty cabinets are not visually appealing so they upset us. Even if we have a calm and relaxing day, dishes in the sink or dirty laundry piles remind us that we cannot fully enjoy our relaxation. Guilt fills us up because we know there is work to do. Every day we push a little more on to this plate of cleaning work to do later until it creates a task that is too big to approach.
In addition to stress, messes trigger “anxiety” (https://blogs.psychcentral.com/dysfunction/2016/06/the-link-between-disorganization-depression-and-anxiety/) and depression. Disorganization overwhelms us, makes us fear the future and sad about the state of affairs. The key to battling this stress, anxiety and depression is simple: Do not let messes get out of control. It may seem easier to say that do, but staying on top of daily cleaning prevents a clean house from tumbling into a disaster of dust and piles of stuff. Battling this negativity means learning how to clean efficiently.
Easy ways to clean
The biggest mistake people make when cleaning their homes is putting off cleaning for one day on the weekend when they try to accomplish a week’s worth of missed daily cleaning in just a couple of hours. You walk throughout your home every day many times. Grab a duster, broom, vacuum or cleaning cloth and wipe things down as you go about your day. Put dishes away as soon as you’re done with them — there never will be an easier time than the present, before you move on to another task. Vacuum during television commercial breaks. While cleaning up after prepping for dinner, wipe cabinets and appliances down. These little steps add up to a persistent clean state, so when you do need to deep clean, there is much less mess to deal with.
The next big mistake in home cleaning is focusing on one area for too long. Instead of cleaning in zones – dial back your perspective and clean the “entire house”(https://www.womansday.com/home/organizing-cleaning/tips/a4055/a-quicker-way-to-clean-house-83178/) as one large unit. This strategy will help you avoid getting stuck in one area for too long. When you clean, avoid actions that make more messes for yourself. For example, always clean “top to bottom”(https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/how-to/g1238/15-secrets-to-cleaning-your-home-in-half-the-time/). If you clean your kitchen floors, then start wiping down countertops, you will have to go back and clean the floor again.
Once clean, declutter
While efficient and frequent cleaning of the whole home creates a positive “healthy environment”(https://www.redfin.com/blog/2016/10/a-healthy-home-is-a-happy-home-how-to-optimize-your-home-for-healthy-stress-free-living.html), it’s not just dirt and dust that triggers negative emotions. Clutter taken to the extreme results in hoarding, which has been clinically linked to “depression”(https://www.webpsychology.com/news/2016/01/11/link-between-clutter-and-depression-251731). Clutter and depression have a collective effect on each other. As one increases, so does the other, and so on until the result is impassable. Avoid clutter through organization. Embrace purging your personal possessions to a manageable amount. Make fewer purchases. If you enjoy shopping, adopt a system of donating an item of clothing for every new purchase you make. Or, buy things that contribute to your serenity.
Add some nature indoors with plants and essential oils
A clean and decluttered house does not have to be sterile and cold. Natural elements, such as houseplants and natural scents found in essential oils introduce calmness into your life. Plants, in particular, help balance the outside with your interior. They clean the air we breathe and “studies”(https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/indoor-plants-can-instantly-boost-your-health-happiness-ncna781806) show they can boost mood.
We can reduce much of our stress, anxiety and risk of depression by controlling our environment. Cleaning our homes is a crucial way to reach balance and peace with our surroundings.
Alice Robertson began her career in the home organization industry as a professional house cleaner. After cleaning and organizing her clients’ homes for years, she decided to open her own home organization business. Over the years, she has built an impressive client list, helping to make spaces in homes and businesses more functional. She recently created tidyhome.info as a place to share the great cleaning and organizing advice she has developed over the years.