May 2, 2020
Written by: Natalie Henderson, Marketing @blueland
Cleaning might seem like a chore, but with so many benefits to physical and mental health, cleaning is much more than that. Cleaning and having a clean, clutter-free space has been linked to several positive health benefits including improved focus, physical fitness, sleep quality and can help to reduce stress and anxiety. According to one study from OfferUp (https://about.offerup.com/2019-spring-cleaning-report/), 61% of Americans feel “de-stressed” after cleaning and tidying their spaces. Whether or not you want to completely Marie Kondo your home is up to you, but the benefits of cleaning and organizing go beyond bragging rights. Learn more about how cleaning can be great for your health!
What Is The Impact Of Clutter On Your Health?
There are several reasons that cleaning can benefit your health, but one reason is that having a cluttered space can actually cause stress and anxiety. Numerous studies including those from Princeton University and the Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin (https://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/496/docs/pubs/2009noplace.pdf) have linked disorganization and clutter to difficulties focusing on specific tasks, confusion and a general sense of feeling overwhelmed.
When our space is cluttered, it impacts us in a few ways. The obvious impact of clutter is that it makes it difficult to find what we are looking for. We can lose time and focus searching for a note or object, and this takes away from time spent working on a task. Another way clutter impacts us is by creating a visual distraction. Even if we aren’t looking for something, having piles of paper or things around us can be easily distracting. For the most part, our brains like order, and tend to thrive in an ordered environment. A clean and organized space can help improve focus and productivity, and can even help improve sleep quality.
Finally, research has linked people who live in cluttered homes to higher levels of cortisol in their bodies. Cortisol is one hormone that causes stress and anxiety in our bodies. So, if clutter can cause all of these negative impacts on our health, what’s the solution? Cleaning!
How Can Cleaning Reduce Stress And Anxiety?
With more time spent at home, it’s important to make sure that your home is a space that you can feel comfortable and productive. Removing clutter from your home is a great way to start as it can help remove physical triggers for anxiety, and help you boost productivity.
Studies in Psychology Today and the Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin suggest that physical clutter makes it difficult to process information efficiently and can cause a physical stress reaction, as clutter and messiness have been linked to higher cortisol levels. When we see clutter, our brain has to process all of the things we see in our field of vision, but our brain can only process so many things at once. When presented with clutter, our brains are overstimulated and have trouble processing all of the different things we see. This ends up being less efficient and can make us feel anxious and overwhelmed.
Spending 10 minutes a day putting your everyday items away and removing unused items from your field of vision can make it easier for you to process the information in front of you. This can be especially helpful while working from home. According to the Harvard Business Review, a clean desk or workspace can improve workplace productivity. The same rules apply while at home, and creating a clean designated workspace is even more important while you spend more time at home.
How Can Cleaning Help With Mindfulness?
Decluttering isn’t the only reason cleaning helps reduce stress. The act of cleaning can be a stress reduction activity. Cleaning is very hands-on and while cleaning, you are usually forced to step away from work and screens, and turn your focus to the repetitive motion of organizing, dusting or washing surfaces. This allows you to be fully present in the action of cleaning, and step away from certain sources of stress.
Whether you clean for 10 minutes as a break, you spend a day dedicated to cleaning, you have the opportunity to step away and focus on your manual tasks. Taking the time to clean can also be the time you take to practice mindfulness exercises. Repetitive motions like wiping counters, dusting and vacuuming are relatively mindless tasks, so it can be a great time to try out mindfulness exercises and breathing exercises.
Can Cleaning Count As Exercise?
Whether you’re cleaning for 10 minutes or 8 hours, cleaning forces you to get up and move around. Experts have long suggested 30 minutes of physical activity a day, and cleaning definitely contributes. Wiping the countertops, scrubbing the tub, sweeping or vacuuming the floor? All of those activities burn calories! If you really want to get a workout in, add in lunges between activities and curls with your cleaning bottles! Turn on your favorite cleaning playlist, get moving and get cleaning!
Can Cleaning Improve Sleep?
Sleep is an important way to keep stress levels low and keep you in a good mood. There are tons of clean sleep trends out there, that include organic sheets, nature sound machines, and specific scents to help your sleep, but a simple step can help improve your sleep quality. A clean space can help improve your quality of sleep and keep you feeling good! According to a St. Laurence study, the same way clutter can distract you and impact productivity, it can distract you and impact your sleep. Having an organized room can limit the distractions at bedtime, making it easier to fall and stay asleep. Small actions like making your bed in the morning can be an easy step to keeping your room clean and improving your sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, making your bed is linked to a more restful sleep. Better sleep can help keep spirits high and stress low!