The Effects of Too Much Clutter
Updated: Jan 30
A certain amount of clutter and disorganisation in our busy lives is entirely normal and to be expected, and if it's honestly not bothering you, it's OK.
Some types of clutter are obvious, but like every little thing in your personal space, clutter isn't merely physical, and that's why I believe it does affect us - more than we may think.
HOW CLUTTER CAN affect us
All types of clutter - physical, mental and emotional can;
▫️Take up valuable space in our homes and our heads.
▫️ Drain us of energy (sometimes we don't even realise it).
▫️ Drain our bank accounts, our time and our attention.
▫️ Hold you in a state of distraction, disorganisation, overwhelm, irritation and stress.
▫️ Keep you in a sense of fear of what might happen if you let go (of stuff, habits and even people) rather than making the most of the present.
▫️ Represent underlying issues that you may have been avoiding.
▫️ Keep you from noticing or dealing with other more important issues.
▫️ Make us feel heavy and negative. ▫️ Keep us stuck in the past and block new opportunities coming into our lives.
▫️ Make us feel controlled by possessions.
▫️Clutter overwhelms us emotionally.
▫️Too much clutter can affect our physical health. Lower our immunity and resistance to illness.
" Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a far higher degree than we ever give them credit" - Joshua Becker
Physical clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes and ourselves.
Our homes are often at the centre of our lives, so if we have mess and disorder in our peripheral vision daily, it's likely that we will feel messy and disordered.
Having a cluttered environment can make us feel like we're out of control; the effects of which can result in stress, anxiety, frustration and lack of energy.
We have limited time, energy, mental and emotional capacity and space, and when we overfill them, we make them hard to use. We limit our ability to go after what we really want from life - the goals that we want to accomplish and the things we want to pursue - because we have so many distractions.
As the single most significant factor in impeding any kind of organisation need, chronic cluttering can manifest itself as an all-pervasive form of self-sabotage, stealing what little energy we have left and leaving us feeling like we're wading through thick-tar on a daily basis.
Thinking in terms of Feng Shui, its fundamental principle states that a cluttered environment is an unhealthy block to positive energy. Whether we believe in such practices, or not, most of us can identify with the effects of clutter and feeling physically and emotionally drained through living in chaos and mess.
CLUTTER, STRESS AND ANXIETY
Many psychologists support the notion of mess creating stress, and how a lack of organisation and order in a home can rob its occupants of peace of mind, precious time and energy, and additionally cause unnecessary problems resulting from tasks not being completed or important documents being lost. Not to mention the stress and strain all of these factors put upon personal relationships.
Studies have identified a direct link between the stress hormone cortisol and clutter (with women much more psychologically averse to clutter). Consistently high cortisol in our bodies has long-term negative health implications.
Cortisol is not just linked to stress, at elevated levels, cortisol also causes depression and the development of sleep disorders. This is partly why living in an overly messy, cluttered or dirty home can give rise to other mental states.
Clutter makes us feel anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile. As mess continues to grow, so does the mental weight of knowing that it's there, which means that you are less able to deal with it. Like with so many things in life, the resulting stress has a way of building upon itself, becoming a vicious cycle.
Scientific studies show that clutter affects our ability to focus. Clutter limits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm and problem solve. Clutter bombards our mind with excessive stimuli causing our brains to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important. Clutter signals to the brain that our work is never done.
Not only that, but stress can also arise from the shame and embarrassment you feel at the disorganisation.
Because of our complicated relationship with our stuff, it can often feel like clutter and disorganisation can take over our lives, and our minds.
By understanding the deeper meaning and the cost of clutter on our lives, we can start to understand what we're missing out on by living with the clutter.
Decluttering can be hard, but it's harder to live a life full of clutter.
How does clutter effect you?