Decluttering your home as part of a spring cleaning effort doesn’t just make the place look nicer; it actually includes some great health benefits!
You could experience fewer allergy symptoms. It’s mind-boggling to me the amount of dust and dust bunnies that collect in the piles of stuff I have around the house. And let’s face it, ‘dust bunnies’ is a gentler term for what we’re really talking about: dust mites. Dust mites (and specifically their droppings) are the gross microscopic pests responsible for a lot of our sneezes and sniffles in our indoor environments. And they love clutter, particularly of the fabric kind. So I guess I should have connected the dots that more stuff can equal more allergies.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, allergy specialist Dr. Alphen Patel with Emory Sinus, Nasal & Allergy Center at Emory Crawford Long Hospital had this to say about dust mites:
“They like warm, moist environments that are especially soft. The more clutter, the more items, especially soft items. … there is a larger surface area for dust mites.”
Think of it this way; for every stuffed animal, extra throw pillow, and stack of unworn sweatshirts from college days that go into the giveaway bag, the less real estate for dust mites to set up shop. And that could mean clearer sinus for you and yours.
Clutter has a direct connection to how well you sleep. This one surprised me. While I do feel a little more like a functioning adult when my bedroom is tidy and organized, I didn’t know that it specifically impacted sleep. But in a recent study by Pamela Thacher, a clinical psychologist, she found that clutter and the amount of it in your bedroom are correlated to sleep disorders. In her findings she wrote, “It seemed like even people without hoarding disorder had what we call a dose response – meaning that the more clutter you had, the more likely you were to have a sleep disorder.”
Next time you’re tossing and turning, it might just be a good idea to toss out some junk and turn your bedroom back into a sleep sanctuary.
Less clutter means lower anxiety. I thought it was just me. When I would enter the hulking pile of stuff that seems to hold up the ceiling of our garage, a sense of stress would accompany my surveying of those cluttered heights. I would discount my response; after all, the stuff was just sitting there. It’s not like a past due bill or a looming deadline. But as it turns out, our possessions and the level of overwhelm they can inspire do find their way into our anxiety and stress levels. A study from the University of California found higher cortisol levels (the body’s primary stress hormone) were higher in study participants who saw their homes as cluttered and messy. The study went on to show that women are more apt to feel stress and anxiety about the clutter. When decluttering occurred and a more organized, clean home was the result, cortisol levels were reduced.
Just like eating right and getting enough exercise, keeping the closets under control and the piles purged can go a long way in enhancing your health. So get your spring cleaning game plan together, and you could see your stress levels drop, your sleep quality increase, and your allergies give you a break!
Julie Lyles Carr is a best-selling author, podcaster, and entrepreneur living in Austin, Texas, with her husband Mike Carr. They have eight kids, two unfriendly cats, and an antique dachshund.