When do you think of ways to relieve stress and anxiety, what do you think of? Get a massage? To take a nap? Maybe practice? Usually cleaning is not the first thing that comes to mind, but it appears that cleaning is actually very effective in reducing anxiety and if we understand why, it makes sense.
First, imagine a kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink and on the counter. What does that do to you? It gives us a bit of stress, only with the imaginary image in our head.
Now imagine a clean kitchen. The counters are clean. The sink is empty. What does that do to you? We feel relieved and happy, especially in comparison with the first image.
In 2010, a study was published in the “Personality and Social Psychology” bulletin that demonstrated a link between clutter and an increase in stress hormone, cortisol. Women who lived in messy houses had a higher cortisol level than women who did not live in messy houses.
Just living in junk can cause stress. If we reduce or eliminate the clutter, our stress level drops. That is not the only reason why cleaning is effective in relieving stress.
If you experience stress or anxiety from a work, family, health or other situation, your brain wants to do something about it; to fix it. Sometimes there are things that we cannot solve, at least not immediately. We have built this extra energy out of fear and it can help to find a way to direct that energy to something productive.
Cleaning gives you something to do, a way to burn some of that anxious energy. It also gives you a sense of satisfaction. You feel that you have control over something in your life (the mess) that can lower the anxiety levels.
Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a recognized clinical psychologist, says, “We want to be able to do something if we become anxious, and what we really want is to keep control and take action.” As to why cleaning works to reduce anxiety, she adds that “you are in control of something that you can do, but you also make your environment calmer.”
Sounds like spring cleaning is exactly what the doctor ordered. If you want to declare, we have compiled a list of our favorite Marie Kondo tips for you. If you want to focus on deep cleaning, don’t forget to clean these areas.
Have you noticed that your stress levels drop when you clean your house?