• Caroline Mitchell


Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.

Why does mess lead to so much stress? 

1. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important.

2. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what we should be focusing on.

3. Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.

4. Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.

5. Clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.

6. Clutter creates feelings of guilt ("I should be more organized") and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or workspaces.

7. Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm, and problem solve.

8. Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the "pile" or keys swallowed up by the clutter). 

Fortunately, unlike other more commonly recognized sources of stress, such as our jobs and personal relationships, clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix. 

* This article is a portion of a longer article posted on the Psychology Today web site, located here:

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