How clutter can impact on your health as well as your home

While there has been much written about the impact of clutter on making a home feel comfortable, many people do not appreciate the impact it can also have on a person’s mental wellbeing.
Blind supplier Blindshut wanted to find out how much of an impact clutter can have on wellbeing, and conducted a survey to find out how clutter affects people mentally – and the results were quite enlightening.  The infographic says it all:

Researchers  learned that only just over 1 in 5 Brits felt that clutter had no impact on their mental wellbeing – indicating that almost 80% of us recognise we are impacted by it in some way.  Despite this, we still kid ourselves that sheds and cupboards are for ‘storage’ rather than things we won’t use but can’t bear to part with, making it harder to find the things we need or want!

Here’s some of the other things researchers identified:

  • Over 86% of participants said they struggle to find objects around their home
  • 66.5% of people have argued over clutter with a cohabitant
  • 10% of the British public wait months before dealing with clutter
  • Nearly a quarter of Brits admitted to having worn less than 25% of the clothes in their wardrobe in the past year.
  • Britons keep £10bn worth of unused clothes in their wardrobes.

Cath Hiddle, an organiser and decluttering expert from Clear the Clutter, says:

“Clutter isn’t often recognised as a source of stress, but it can make a major impact on our health and wellbeing.  As well as overtaking our physical space, clutter can overtake our minds as it causes our senses to work overtime to try to process what needs to be done.  

Following on from this, it is then difficult to focus on tasks as clutter is distracting, it can cause frustration when items can’t be located quickly or easily.  Clutter creates anxiety when people feel that they are unable to get on top of it or get to the bottom of the pile.”

Coral Sapphire, an English Teacher from Newcastle upon Tyne with OCD experienced the effects of clutter on her mood, telling researchers:

“Clutter creates a feeling of suffocation and I am unable to sleep in cluttered rooms. It heightens any underlying feelings of worry.”

Over 47% of the public have thought twice about inviting someone to their house because of the amount of clutter. This is often because clutter is seen as a negative or embarrassing thing, but it’s easy to end up with a cluttered home if you don’t keep on top of it. Researchers at Yale School of Medicine found that people who are hesitant to throw out their junk show increased brain activity in two parts of the brain responsible for cravings, conflict and pain.

Ben Edwards, a self-confidence expert and relationship coach, explains:

“Our environment reflects our state of mind, which impacts our relationships, work life and productivity. You can tell a lot about a person from their home; if they have a minimalist, clean house, this often means that they like to keep their thoughts organised too. However, it could mean the opposite! This could mean they have a lot going on in their head, and this is a way of counterbalancing that. Meanwhile, people who may feel they haven’t got a lot going on in their lives might hoard as a distraction technique”.

According to a recent Pew Research poll, sharing the household task of clearing clutter and doing chores is the third most important factor in a successful marriage. Clutter can become a regular topic of disagreements with the people you live with. In the survey Blindshut conducted, 66.5% of people admitted to arguing over clutter with a cohabitant, with over 10% of people arguing about clutter frequently.

The main benefits of decluttering are clear. Ben Edwards adds

“There is also a correlation between clutter in the home and relationship difficulties, more specifically, arguments. It’s not surprising that statistically, most arguments occur in the kitchen, for this is where the majority of household mess accumulates. One person’s expectations of cleanliness may be vastly different to another’s and it is the discrepancies in these expectations that can give rise to arguments, so it’s important to establish a clear understanding of how the house will be kept tidy to maintain harmony!”

For some inspiration on where to start clearing, Blindshut have produced an article on  the Top 70 things that clutter homes the most – definitely recommended reading.