Mental health and messy spaces


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Take a moment and reflect on your own personal space. Is the bedside table cluttered with random objects? Are your dishes clean? Is your bed made? Do you ever get stressed about your mess? 

Making sure our homes are clean can add stress to our lives and often goes undetected. It’s tedious, annoying and mundane. 

In a study done by professor Joseph R. Ferrari, he contends there is a link between clutter and mental health. His research suggests “general procrastination tendencies may enable a lifelong pattern of responses to one’s environment that become increasingly maladaptive”. 

Being self-aware is a key part of figuring out why procrastination can make us feel so distressed. We often enter a never-ending cycle of chronic procrastination, consequently affecting our moods.  

Cleaning procrastination can lead to dissatisfaction in life and cause harm to your overall well-being. But if there’s a link to mental health and clutter, a link between cleaning and a happier mood must exist. Hidaya Aliouche, science communication enthusiast, believes cleaning can be considered to be a form of stress relief.  According to Aliouche, “The absence of clutter can reduce the overstimulation produced by too many visual stimuli, enabling increased focus and the ability to concentrate.”  

Maya Rushton, a 22-year-old Butte College student majoring in entrepreneurship, wishes to start her own business in a few years. However, the endless clutter that accumulates on a daily basis has altered her goals. Like many other students, the mundane act of cleaning can hinder our moods and bleed into other aspects of our lives.

“I find it hard to do my homework and daily routines when there is a constant mess in my house,” Rushton said. 

There are many individuals who struggle keeping their space clean, often eating away at their conscience and affecting their everyday routine.

Tips for managing clutter and mental health 

Start small. Taking small steps can be easier than going full force. Chances are once you start cleaning you’ll want to keep going. 

Set manageable goals for yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to clean your entire house or work space. By setting unattainable goals you’ll only become discouraged and disappointed. Give yourself a goal you can achieve each day so your chores seem manageable. 

Cut yourself some slack. There is no need to overwhelm yourself with stress. The bathroom will get cleaned and your clothes will get folded. Expecting perfection is a recipe for disaster, so forgive yourself for being human.   

Daisy Beltran can be reached at [email protected].