Clutter Can Adversely Affect Your Health
By Paul Rothbart
Having too much stuff and not enough storage space is a very common problem. We tend to accumulate things as time goes on. This leads to disorganization, even chaos. The best word to describe it is clutter. Clutter makes it difficult to locate things you need when you need them. It can make your living spaces seem much smaller. It can also have a negative impact on your health. Here are some ways that clutter can harm your physical and mental well-being.
It Can Cause Anxiety
When your home is constantly filled with clutter, it can activate the fight-or-flight response. This increases production of cortisol, the hormone that induces stress. A 2009 study found that mothers whose homes were cluttered had significantly higher cortisol levels than those whose homes were better organized. Stress and anxiety are strongly linked and can lead to depression and other mental health issues. This alone is a good reason to avoid clutter.
It Can Affect Memory and Cognitive Function
Research shows that disorganization can have a negative impact on the brain. Our minds like order and the visual distractions of piles of clutter surrounding us hurt the ability to focus. These sights drain cognitive resources. They can also overload the brain and impair memory. A study conducted in 2011 found that clearing away clutter at home and work improved processing and focus capability as well as productivity.
It Can Affect Immunity and Digestion
The physiological changes triggered by the fight-or-flight response can affect how the immune system fights microbes. They can also negatively impact digestion and increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Stress tends to diminish the health of many areas of the body. Clutter induces stress. The connection is easy to see.
It Can Affect Sleep
Good sleep is one of the absolute essentials for good mental and physical health. Research has found that people who sleep in cluttered environments are more likely to have difficulty falling and staying asleep than those who sleep in organized rooms. Quality of sleep is diminished to the extent that the body and mind suffer.
It Can Affect Quality of Life
Hoarding disorder is a very serious psychological condition in which a person cannot throw anything away and continues to accumulate possessions of all kinds, most of it useless. It reaches a point that the stuff overwhelms living space, cutting off access to appliances, furniture, and even entire rooms. Insects and rats are attracted, making the home unlivable. Not everyone with clutter will get this far out of hand, but clutter is the first step on that slippery slope.
It is not always easy to stay organized, but it is well-worth the effort to cut back on the amount of possessions you own. Really think about whether you truly need an item. Consider renting a storage unit to open up space in your home. Eliminating clutter will be an excellent step toward better health.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Concord, N.C.