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Amira McLaughlin

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You may not realize it, but a cluttered and disorganized environment can considerably affect the amount of anxiety you feel. When things around us and in our field of vision are physically in disarray, it can cause our minds to feel just as scattered. It’s been documented that feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and overwhelm can result when our surroundings are messy. Many of us don’t give enough credit to the fact that a disorganized environment can be a real problem that affects us throughout our lives. Take a look at the science behind clutter’s effects and consider some suggestions for decluttering your home to ease your mind.

A messy environment causes your senses to be overstimulated. Your brain is overloaded with too many stimuli, primarily visual means, but this also applies to tactile and olfactory. When your mind tries to take in and process all of this, it becomes overwhelmed by handling unnecessary stimuli. Let’s face it, when there’s clutter, most of the items are probably unnecessary. You’re making your brain work too hard, and it’s stressing you out.

Because your head is so busy processing and wading through all this excess stuff, you won’t feel relaxed. Coming across this mess everywhere, you tell your brain that there’s no completion to the task. Our minds need to have a sense of closure to move from an alert phase. When you are stimulated and on-edge for extended periods, such as in your workplace or at home, you’re bound to feel anxious or nervous, not to mention guilty, embarrassed, and overwhelmed. Messiness is also emotionally frustrating because it leads to wasted time and lost items, among other issues.

Cleaning up your mess may seem impossible, but it’s a problem with a solution that can be dealt with in stages. Breaking a big job down will make it seem more doable. You can manage this by assigning tasks to roommates or family so that everyone shares in the load. If you live alone, break the job down into segments. Clean one room or even one section at a time. This approach tricks your mind into believing there’s an end in sight. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised to see that end approaching as you tackle it all in baby steps.

Take some hints from the organization shows on TV. Create piles for things you plan to donate, throw away, and keep. This is also a strategic way to trick your mind. Essentially, you’re organizing your organizing. Breaking things down always makes them seem more effortless and increases your motivation to get started. We all know that starting is half the battle, right?

You can declutter your home to declutter your mind. The reward will be the immense relief and lower levels of anxiety you feel when the job is done. Keep your most-used items close at hand, and be sure everything has a place. These steps will help you to maintain the sense of order you just created.

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