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How Clutter Causes Stress (and 4 Easy Ways to De-Stress by Decluttering)

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When we feel really stressed, we often blame bigger things like work, family, and other things beyond our control. But let’s talk about how clutter causes stress along with some skills and declutter tips we can use to conquer clutter-related stress.

And, even though you may not see it now, taking care of that clutter problem usually has a VERY positive effect on the other areas of your life. I’ve seen it first-hand, and I want all those good things for you. 😉

Stress comes from more than work and family >> Here’s how clutter causes stress and 4 simple ways to reduce clutter-related anxiety in everyday life.

How Clutter Causes Stress

Stress from clutter is REAL. Don’t push it off as something you can tackle after you’re ‘not stressed’ anywhere else in your life. Here are 4 reasons you should prioritize dealing with the clutter-stress as soon as possible.

Physical clutter is ALWAYS THERE 

Your body and your brain can’t get a break when they are relentlessly confronted by visible clutter. It’s exhausting.

Constantly dealing with visual and physical clutter affects your mood and cortisol levels. In turn, that negatively affects how well your brain operates. 

Sadly, clutter may also have a negative impact on psychological home and subjective well-being. That’s from a scientific study, and I take it to mean that when you begin to collect clutter, you then start to feel badly about your home AND yourself. 🙁  

That’s not good, my friend… not good at all. Home should be a place of peace and restoration for our mind and body.

Clutter causes family divisions

This is epecially true when everyone plays the blame game. Fighting endlessly over who creates the most clutter and why nobody ever picks up after themselves is counter-productive.

Even though we have guidelines for age-appropriate chores for kids, those chores can fall by the wayside when older teens and adults don’t take responsibility for their own things.

It turns into a vicious cycle, and families cannot function well in that type of environment. 

The bigger the piles get, the more overwhelmed you feel about EVERYTHING

It’s not just that you become overwhelmed by things. You also fall victim to pervasive feelings of guilt and downright embarrassment. 

You may live in absolute fear of anyone stopping by unexpectedly. 

When you can’t complete a thought, idea, or plan because you’re thinking about the 6,287 messes that you ‘really should’ take care of right this minute, that makes it all worse.

Clutter makes everything take much longer than necessary

Things get lost, so you have to spend extra time looking for them or spend extra money to buy them again. And when you do eventually find those lost things, you get frustrated all over again.

Cleaning is more difficult… or impossible.

Maybe you don’t do fun things together as a family because clearing enough clutter from a common space is simply too much effort.

And that is NO way to live!

So what can you do to get a handle on all the clutter in your life and begin reducing the stress?

4 Ways to Reduce the Stressful Effects of Clutter

While ditching the clutter might not completely eliminate the stress in your life, I think you will be surprised at just how much of a positive difference it makes. Give these suggestions a try, and see if you don’t agree…

Stop the physical clutter at the door

  • Set up a station near your main entrance to deal with incoming papers. Trash can, recycle bin, small paper shredder or basket for papers to burn, and an upright slim file holder — either wall-mounted or countertop-style — for sorting mail, school papers, etc.
  • Stop accepting ‘I thought you might want this’ items from people who think of you as the person who takes everything others discard.
  • Stay off deal sites and local FB garage sale and buy/sell/trade groups.
  • Take a break from shopping — that includes online! If you MUST purchase something, set a rule that for each thing coming in, two things must leave.

Concentrate on keeping your kitchen counters clear

We’re all eating at home more often these days. And most of us are cooking more. But who can face the thought of meal prep in a messy kitchen with no counterspace?

Clear your kitchen counters and set a goal to KEEP them that way. Mealtimes will be MUCH less stressful.

Once you have clear counters, move on and declutter the entire kitchen. Remember, it doesn’t have to happen in a day!

Quietly get a handle on your personal clutter

You don’t have to make a huge declaration to everyone you live with and everyone you know that you’re going to declutter your entire home in a week and this time it will stay that way forever!

Be realistic. If you’re dealing with an overwhelming amount of clutter, then the process of getting rid of that mess could ALSO be somewhat stressful and slow. 

Be kind to yourself. Start with decluttering just 10 minutes or 10 items a day… and start with YOUR OWN clutter. (Need some ideas? Grab this printable list of 62 items you can get rid of today and never miss from Julie at Filling the Jars.)

While dealing with others’ clutter may cause intense feelings of stress and resentment, taking care of your own stuff will start to feel REALLY good — and that feeling will happen more quickly than you might expect. 😉 

Plus, even though you’re doing this quietly, you’re setting an amazing example for your family!

Implement a daily 10-minute tidy

This is where everyone in the family gets involved! While getting this going consistently may be difficult at first, don’t give up!

Use this time to build the habit of putting things back where they belong. Who knows, after you get good at this mini-routine, maybe you’ll even decide to use a cleaning schedule and really uplevel the tidiness.

More Decluttering Tips

My Must Have Resources

Concluding Thoughts on Clutter and Stress

Although we may not fully understand every single way clutter causes stress in our lives, the things we’ve talked about today should be enough to prompt you to start making changes to deal with your clutter.

Remember, there is no ‘perfect’ way to begin decluttering.

The most important thing is to BEGIN. Your mindset and methods may change over time, and that’s fine! But never give up!

You CAN have a clutter-free, comfortable home with less clutter-related stress. 

Don’t be scared of the work, because I know you can do this! I hope you will find, as I have, that the positive effects of decluttering are ALWAYS worth the effort.

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