THE BLOG
06/05/2016 01:41 pm ET Updated Jun 06, 2017

5 Ways Clutter Hurts Your Health (and How to Fix It)

By: Diana Kelly

Spring cleaning isn't just about organizing your home and workspace but also improving your overall health. Here's how tidying up may help you lose weight, breathe easier, sleep better, and more.

You might think that a few piles of clothes here, stacks of books and magazines there, and junked-up dresser drawers aren't hurting anyone. Think again. All of that clutter overcrowding your personal space might be affecting your health. Don't take our word for it. Here are science-supported reasons why a neglected mess may be messing with your mind and body, and what you can do about it (besides hire a cleaning lady).

1. Clutter impacts your... sleep.

If the last thing you see before you go to bed is dirty clothes or scattered papers covering your desk, it can leave you feeling stressed and anxious, which can result in a 3 a.m. staring contest with the ceiling. A study published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep last June analyzed the sleeping patterns of subjects who had filled their homes with excessive objects. Researchers found that those who had very cluttered or even unusable bedrooms had worse sleep quality than those people who were less at risk for a hoarding disorder.

Clean up: Before hitting the hay, take a few minutes to put away clothes, organize your papers and generally straighten up your bedroom. When you're exhausted at the end of the day, this may be the last thing you want to do, but taking a moment to tidy will ensure a better night's rest. Also consider adding this calming sleep meditation from Deepak Chopra to your bedtime routine to set yourself up for serene slumber.

Related: How Tidying Your Space Affects Mental Clarity

2. Clutter impacts your... energy.

Whenever you enter or look at a crammed or disorganized space, you can instantly feel it zap your energy. A 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that "multiple stimuli" present in your visual field at the same time may be competing for neural representation and result in a limited processing capacity of what you're seeing. Simply put, when you are surrounded by clutter, the visual chaos impedes your ability to focus as well as process information.

Clean up: If you're having trouble concentrating on a nagging task, like paying the bills, take a quick break to do some light cleaning, like washing the dishes or folding laundry. You can get a lot more done in one minute than you'd think, according to happiness expert Gretchen Rubin. While working on her book, The Happiness Project, Rubin created the "one-minute rule," where she suggests pushing yourself to do any chore that takes less than one minute. Throw away the junk mail, close the cabinet door, put your dirty socks in the hamper, hang up a wet towel; it'll help you minimize clutter and create a neater space, she says.

To discover the three other ways clutter impacts your health and how to avoid them, read the original article on Sonima.com here.

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