If you suffer from depression, you already know that some things can be harder on you than others. In fact, it is sometimes difficult to tell what situation might make your depression worse, but what about cleaning your house? Is how clean your house is really related to how depressed you are? Can a messy home cause your depression to become worse?
Believe it or not, there is a definite connection between how clean and uncluttered your house is and your mental health. Let’s take a look at this issue in more detail.
Is a Cluttered Home Really That Big of a Deal?
Even if you don’t realize it, a cluttered or unclean home can cause you stress. It may not be obvious to you and you may not even be conscious of it, but the fact is, if your house is messy and you’re feeling a little bit antsy and restless, those two facts might well be related.
When people get stressed, they’ll try anything to de-stress, including mindfulness, a good massage, yoga, listening to their favorite music, etc. But if you quickly straighten up the house or sweep the kitchen floors and you suddenly feel better, there’s a good reason for that.
According to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who claimed that their living spaces were cluttered or messy reported being depressed and fatigued much more often than women who claimed that their homes were just the opposite.
Indeed, there seems to be a direct relationship between a clean home and a person’s mental health. The same study showed that when women had cluttered or messy homes, their levels of cortisol were higher, leading to a higher likelihood that those women will gain weight at some point.
Why is this? For one thing, a study by Princeton University proved that a cluttered home can actually make it difficult for a person to focus on a specific task. When their homes are cluttered and messy, people simply find it more difficult to concentrate and to complete certain projects. Again, you may not even be consciously aware of what is happening, but you’ll notice a change in your mood when your home is messy or dirty.
Part of the reason is that a cluttered, messy home is usually linked to negative emotions, including irritability and tension, while an organized and clean home tends to produce emotions that are much more positive, including calmness and a sense of safety and well-being.
It seems that your brain registers clutter as “unfinished business,” which is much more stressful to some people than it is to others. If you’re a particularly organized person who loves getting things done, your depression can be made even worse with a cluttered or dirty home.
How Can a Clean House Help Your Mood?
Just how does cleaning your house help your mood and reduce depression and negative feelings? It does this in several ways, including:
- It benefits your physical health. And when you feel better physically, you automatically feel better mentally as well.
- It makes you feel more in control of your environment and therefore your life. A better sense of control over things makes everyone feel better.
- It improves your overall mood, which results in a reduction in nervousness and overall tension.
- It increases the amount of focus you have on other projects. If you can’t focus on something in particular, try cleaning your house first!
Of course, if you’re one of these people who isn’t used to cleaning and decluttering your house regularly, it might be difficult to figure out a way to start doing just that. This is especially true if you have a lot of other things on your plate, especially if your depression is severe or your life is simply more chaotic than the average person.
Don’t worry, though, because here are a few ways to start making cleaning and decluttering your house more of a priority:
- Always start small. Don’t expect the entire house to look better in an hour. Do a small amount of work each day instead of spending hours working on your home on any given day.
- Get some help if you need to. If you’re recovering from surgery or an illness and you have some physical limitations, don’t be shy about asking someone to come to your house and help.
- Only work for a certain amount of time, then stop. You can set a timer for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or some other time frame then stop working when the timer goes off.
Even these small steps can elevate your mood and make you feel much better emotionally. If you’re not one of these people who considers a clean house a “must,” don’t sweat it. Just do what you can and move onto something else. If you feel one thousand times better just because your house is clean, house cleaning may start to become an obsession after a while, and that can cause depression as well.
The best thing to do is find a happy medium between minor housekeeping and becoming too involved with a clean house. After all, having a clean, uncluttered home should make you feel better, not worse. Most people, however, find that when they declutter and clean their homes, they feel much better emotionally, and that can directly affect every other aspect of their life.
Can Cleaning House Really Help Depression?
A decluttered home can truly work miracles for your psyche, even if you don’t realize why you’ve been feeling like your life is a little out of control in the first place. Most people like a sense of control in their lives, and cleaning and decluttering your home does just that so that you feel better both physically and psychologically.
If you already suffer from depression, those feelings of sadness can become worse if your house is always a mess or stays that way most of the time. Simply decluttering your home can have a huge positive impact on your overall mood, and there aren’t that many times when you can say that such a small task makes such a big difference in your life.