Do you have too much clutter? Take our quiz
It's no secret that clearing out the clutter can help our mental health, but how badly do you really need to tidy up your environment?
The queen of clean, Marie Kondo, has made her name with the KonMari Method, which involves letting go of items that don't bring you joy.
While not every item in your home will make you happy (a saucepan might not make you happy, but you do need it), her methods can help you to part with sentimental clutter that you don't really need to keep.
Cleaning (or the lack of it) can have a real impact on your health. Read on to find out about the health benefits of tidying or scroll down to take our clutter quiz.
The effect of cleanliness on mental health
It's often hard to find the motivation or a good reason for a proper clear out, but it can help you feel better about your home and happier in yourself.
A study by Indiana University found that people with cleaner homes tended to be healthier and more physically active.
An untidy home can make you stressed too. A University of California study found that women who described their homes using words such as "messy", "cluttered" and "disorganised" had higher levels of cortisol – the hormone associated with stress.
A tidy home gives you a healthy appetite
A study at the University of Minnesota asked volunteers to fill in a questionnaire in either a messy or tidy office. The volunteers were then offered a snack – either an apple or chocolate – and given the opportunity to donate to a charity.
The volunteers who had spent time in the tidy offices were more likely to choose the healthy snack and donate to charity.
But working in a messy office had some surprising benefits (so don't feel too bad if your environment isn't immaculate).
In the second part of the experiment, volunteers were challenged to come up with new uses for ping pong balls.
The volunteers working in the untidy offices came up with as many ideas as those in the tidy offices – and impartial judges found their ideas more interesting and creative.
Decluttering can help you sleep better
Having an uncluttered bedroom can help you to get a better night's sleep.
A study by St Lawrence University found that people who hoard items tend to sleep poorly.
Hoarders who had cluttered bedrooms were also found to be more at risk of developing stress and depression.
A tidy desk makes you more productive
Having too much clutter on your desk can make you less productive.
Our brains like to try to process everything we can see in our field of vision – so the more we can see the harder our poor brains are having to work.
Decluttering your desk doesn't have to be stressful – read our tips for mindfulness at work.
5 tips to help you clean out your clutter
- If you try to tackle the mess in one go, you're likely to end up feeling overwhelmed by the task – so break it down into bite-sized chunks.
- Set aside a few minutes each day just to have a quick tidy. Just putting away the dishes or giving the oven top a quick clean will make you feel better.
- If you're having a big clear out, it can help to tidy one room at a time and split up the work over a number of days. Set aside some time over the weekend or after work if you're struggling to find the time.
- Give yourself a use-by date. If you haven't used an item in six months, you probably don't need to keep it.
- Set yourself a five-minute decluttering challenge. Grab a stop watch and give yourself just five minutes to clear out an area of your home.
Take our clutter quiz
Photos by Jazmin Quaynor, STIL and Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash