Four mental health benefits to spring cleaning with guide from psychotherapist

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Four mental health benefits to spring cleaning with guide from psychotherapist

Spring is associated with renewal, making it the perfect time to do a deep clean of your living space.

Known to have a positive ripple effect on mental health, cleaning can alleviate and reduce depression and anxiety symptoms because completing the task can give you a sense of control and accomplishment, as well as a much-needed confidence boost.

Experts recommend first asking yourself this question to make the most efficient plan while also warning not to make these 10 common time-consuming mistakes.

Also, if you want it to feel like more of a spiritual experience, you can cross-reference Marie Kondo’s five-step spring cleaning guide.

Errolie Sermaine, an BACP and NCS accredited counsellor and clinical supervisor, shared four ways that cleaning boosts your mental health and laid out a simple seven-step guide to tackling the task.

« Spring cleaning isn’t just about making your home look nicer, it’s about improving your mental health and wellbeing, » she says. « Clutter can have a negative impact on stress levels, mood, and productivity, but by decluttering your home, you create space for a more organized and positive environment. »

She adds: « If you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter, consider taking some time to spring clean and reap the mental health benefits. »

READ MORE: Cleaning products you should avoid by ‘using your nose’ with experts warning

Why living in clutter is bad for your mental health

Intuitively, the psychotherapist says we all know that living with cluter can be « overwhelming, stressful, and even make it difficult to concentrate. » It has also be proven in numerous studies to be true.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that « people who lived in cluttered homes had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who lived in tidy homes, » noting that « elevated cortisol levels have been linked to a range of health problems, including depression, anxiety, and even heart disease. »

Additionally, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that « cluttered homes were associated with lower levels of life satisfaction and higher levels of feeling overwhelmed. »

« Clutter can also make it more difficult to relax and unwind at the end of the day, making it harder to get a good night’s sleep, » Sermaine writes. « Being surrounded by clutter has also been found to lead to procrastination. »

The psychotherapist adds: « When we’re surrounded by clutter, it’s easy to become distracted and put off tasks that need to be done. This can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety, which can further impact our mental wellbeing. »

Four mental health benefits to spring cleaning

1. Reduced stress and anxiety

« When you clear out clutter, you create a more organized and tidy space, » she explains, which « can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels » because « you feel more in control of your environment. »

2. Increased productivity

« Clutter can make it difficult to focus and get things done, » she explains. However, clearing out the clutter can help provide a better feng shui to your space, which will ultimately boost efficiency and productivity.

3. Improved mood

Especially if you’re struggling with depression or other mood disorders, clutter can exacerbate your mental health symptoms, she says. While not a total cure on its own, a clean and tidy space can « improve your mood and make you feel more positive about life. »

4. Better sleep

« When your environment is clutter-free, it can be easier to relax and unwind at the end of the day, » she says, which « can lead to a better night’s sleep and improved mental health. »

Seven-step spring cleaning guide from a psychotherapist

1. Set realistic goals

« Don’t try to tackle everything at once, » she warns.

Rather, do one one room or one area of your home at a time to prevent feeling overwhelmed and spiraling into stagnation.

2. Get rid of what you don’t need 

While its nice to have senitmental trinkets and to be resourceful by reusing items for different purposes, it is also important not to hold onto junk.

« Be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of clutter, » she recommends. « If you haven’t used it in the past year, it’s probably time to let it go. »

3. Donate or recycle 

This sustainability practice is a great way to help the enviornment and give items a second life in a new home.

4. Create a system

« When you’re decluttering, it’s important to have a system in place, » she explains. « Create three piles: keep, donate/recycle, and throw away. This will help you stay organized and on track. »

5. Enlist help 

« Spring cleaning can be a big job, so don’t be afraid to ask for help, » she says. « Get your family or friends involved, or hire a professional cleaning service if you need extra assistance. »

6. Take breaks

She says: « Decluttering can be physically and mentally exhausting, so make sure to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge. »

7. Maintain your space

She concludes: « Once you’ve completed your spring cleaning, try to maintain your new clutter-free environment. »

« Make a habit of regularly decluttering and organizing your space to prevent clutter from building up again. »

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