How Clutter Affects Your Health

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clutterSpring is finally here and many of us are sheltering in place – and this might give us more time than usual to think about clutter.

If you have ever done spring cleaning, you know how refreshing it feels to walk into a truly clean, decluttered home – that lighter feeling when your eyes are no longer drawn to that clump of dust, pile of papers, overloaded shelf, chaotic garage, ball of dog hair, or a grease stain on your kitchen cabinet.

To really clean, you need to get rid of the clutter first. Many studies point to a direct relationship between productivity and clutter. Efficiency and effectiveness can’t coexist with disorder and chaos. This holds true at your office and in your home. And, what’s even more alarming, is the relationship between clutter and depression. Disordered surroundings can directly affect stress and hormone levels in the body, especially for women.

Clutter promotes anxiety. Feeling overwhelmed. Panic. Hopelessness. It weighs us down. It drains our patience. It makes us frazzled and frustrated. Can you relate? Lucky for us, there’s something we can do.

Physical clutter is not the only type of clutter that we need to be focused on. Equally important is emotional clutter. This clutter is often not on our radar.

Here are some things to ask yourself: Do you have emotions that have out-served their purpose and are taking up precious mental space in your brain and space in your energetic field? Does this emotional clutter drain your energy and hold you back? Does this cluttered energy prevent you from being present in life, your purpose, and your interests?

Here is a list of the some emotional clutter suspects:

• Anger – at a situation or a person. At something that happened in the past that you can’t change. At a “groundhog day” circumstance that you are forced to re-live.

• Resentment – toward someone for something they did. For an injustice or wrongdoing. Or toward a life situation that you can’t change.

• Unresolved conflict – one that festers and drains you. Over and over.

• Self-directed doubt, flagellation and feelings of inadequacy – limiting the positive potential you have inside you.

• Comparing yourself to others – an exercise in futility.

• Rumination about the past and anxiety about the future.

• Toxic relationships – with family, friends, neighbors or colleagues.

Emotional clutter is unique for each of us. Take some time to recognize yours, and start working to clear it. The bottom line? The relationship between clutter (both physical and emotional) and your productivity and mood is significant.

It’s spring – the season of renewal, new growth and potential. Even if it’s just one space in your house and one emotion. Even if the result is not perfect or is incomplete. Even if you notice a long way to go. Any start or small step is a positive step forward.

Here’s to feeling light and free, to looking around and not seeing anything superfluous, feeling liberated and unburdened, seeing your future, and freeing yourself from clutter of the past.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2023