The Connection Between Mental Health and An Organized Home

Australian author Melina Marchetta believed that a clean home could even result in peace in the Middle East. Such is the impact an organized home can have.

For many, the home is the first symbol of security: a roof to protect us from the rain, four walls to protect us from the wind, and a stove where we can cook.

However, the energy in the place that shelters us is much stronger than its ability to protect us from external agents.

Even before Marie Kondo set us to evaluate the energy of all the objects we accumulate at home, traditional Chinese culture claimed that using energetic forces could harmonize people with the environment around them.

What Chinese metaphysics called feng shui (“wind-water” in English) analyzed architecture in terms of “invisible forces” that unite the universe, the earth, and humanity.

But without going down the rabbit hole in philosophical debates, it is enough to realize how the accumulation of unwashed dishes and cups in the kitchen and the lack of coherence in the layout of our home makes us feel fatigued, even before we start the day.

Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, where we have had to adjust to the small spaces in the home that, before the remote-work life, were just places of transit.

Habits and an Organized Home

We don’t all have the same rhythms. Some can do things in a different order every day, and there are others who, if we make a mistake in the order of our routine, we have to start from scratch.

The ideal? A middle ground.

The order of our thoughts can only begin to have a coherent rhythm if our space does too.

The experts speak

A study led by associate professor Nicole R. Keith, Ph.D., Ph.D., a research scientist and professor at Indiana University, found that people with clean homes are healthier than those with cluttered homes. 

Keith and her colleagues tracked the physical health of 998 African Americans between the ages of 49 and 65, a demographic known for their increased risk of heart disease. 

Participants who kept their homes clean and organized were healthier and more active than those who did not. In fact, house cleanliness was an even greater predictor of physical health than walkability in the neighborhood.

Similarly, a 2010 study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin used linguistic analysis software to measure how 60 individuals talked about their homes. Women who described their living spaces as “messy” or full of “unfinished projects” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.” 

The researchers also found that women with cluttered homes expressed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

More recently, in 2011, researchers at Princeton University found that clutter can make it difficult to concentrate on a particular task. Specifically, they found that the visual cortex can become overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects, making it more difficult to efficiently allocate attention and complete tasks.

Anxiety, depression, and unfinished projects

In addition to the constant instability that maintains a disorganized home, the feeling of having things to clean and tidy contributes to increased stress and, ultimately, the onset of depression.

However, if we look at it from the other extreme, from the benefits, maybe that’s the time to start changing the health of your space.

An organized home helps you do the following things:

  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your interpersonal relationships
  • Focus more on yourself, on your personal growth, rather than on appearances outside the home
  • Improve your nutrition
  • Be more productive

Where to start?

Before even buying cleaning products, it’s best to stop and take a look at what each place represents, what my habits have been up to now, how I want to live, and how I want to improve.

Next, it’s always good to divide the house into zones — both for the products we need and the organizers we can buy.

Get rid of what is unnecessary, deep clean, and relax with a glass of wine, incense, and a good book.

Finally, remember that the key is to be constant. This way, you will avoid great efforts. Your life will change forever.

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