There’s a link between too much clutter and depression
Posted May 29
Could overcoming depression be as easy as cleaning your house? While that might be oversimplified, researchers seem to have found a connection between cluttered homes and stress, depression and even the dissolution of family traditions.
In a four-year study of 32 middle-class, dual-income Los Angeles families, UCLA researchers discovered many significant findings regarding the relationship between stresses and messes. They published their determinations in a book: “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors.”
The families researched were not hoarders, just average households that accumulated "stuff," from furnishings and televisions to art and trophies and even food and cleaning supplies purchased from big box stores.
These material possessions take up a great deal of space and apparently positive energy as well throughout the homes. In fact, the garages of three-quarters of those studied were too packed with belongings to use for their intended purposes.
Of all the participants studied, women seem to be hardest hit by the clutter surrounding them. Mothers in the group had elevated levels of stress hormones, which correlated with the volume of possessions they had to manage.
Kids are affected by clutter and material possessions, as well. Even though L.A. boasts beautiful weather year-round, the children in the study rarely played outdoors.
Although the families recognized these consistent and challenging issues, few took steps to make changes.
A survey by the National Association for Professional Organizers found that 54 percent of Americans are overwhelmed by their clutter. Of these, 78 percent let it build up because they don't know what to do about it.
If your piles of stuff have you feeling defeated and depressed, start small. Professional organizer and author Cas Aarssen suggests starting with a "21-item toss." Every day for a week, find 21 things around your home that you can donate or throw away. By the end of the week, you will have made a dent in decluttering and will likely be motivated to carry on.