Many people have been using lockdown as an opportunity to declutter their homes.
But reducing the amount of stuff in your homes isn’t just about making your property look good, it can help improve your health. Here are five ways your clutter could be making you ill:
A cluttered and disorganised home can add to any feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. People who feel depressed often get stuck in a vicious circle – their low mood can make the thought of housework seem overwhelming but the resulting mess makes them feel even worse. Reducing the amount of stuff in your home will make it easier to clean and find the things you need when you need them. Clear surfaces can help people feel more positive and productive. However, if your home is very cluttered it can be very difficult to know where to begin. One quick and effective way to tackle a cluttered home is to pack all non-essentials up and put them into self-storage while you clean and organise you property. Once you’ve got plenty of space, you can then gradually reintroduce any items you really miss. Anything you can happily live without once you have got your home organised can be donated to charity shops, sold or thrown away.
Cluttered surfaces attract dust and are more difficult to keep clean. Many people have allergies to dust mites which can cause sneezing, a runny nose, wheezing and itchy eyes. If you have a pet, clutter can also make it more difficult to vacuum up fur which can make your home uncomfortable for anyone who is allergic to pet dander. If you have asthma, dust can also make your condition worse and sometimes trigger attacks. According to Asthma UK, 64 per cent of people with asthma find that dust makes their symptoms worse. Items like ornaments are often seen as ‘dust collectors’. If you have so many things on surfaces that dusting feels impossible, try to reduce them to just one or two treasured objects. You could put the items you remove away either in a cupboard or attic or into storage and then swap them around when you decide you want a new look.
If your house is cluttered and untidy, you may well feel embarrassed about inviting visitors over which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. A clean and tidy house is more inviting for guests and you are likely to feel happier to welcome people into your home. At the moment, lockdown restrictions mean visitors aren’t allowed into your home so now is the perfect time to tackle the chaos. Finding homes for your things and restoring order to your property will mean you are ready to invite your friends and family round when the restrictions are relaxed and it is safe to do so.
People with a disorganised home are more likely to find it harder to stay organised in other areas of life. This is thought to be because clutter interferes with your working memory. This is your short-term memory, a cognitive system which holds information on a temporary basis and is vital for making decisions and behaviour. Things like forgetting why you walked into a room or where you put the car keys can all be made worse by a cluttered home. This is because too much stuff can leave your brain feeling overwhelmed and overloaded with too many things to keep track of at a time. Reducing the number of possessions you have and introducing a system to make sure everything has its own place will help clear your mind so you can get your memory back on track. And just as clutter can interfere with your memory, it can make sleeping more difficult as well. It is not clear why mess and insomnia are linked but experts believe it could be due to clutter contributing to feelings of stress and anxiety. Decluttering can be a frustrating process during lockdown as car boot sales aren’t running and charity shops and even some household waste recycling sites are closed. However, you can use this time to work out what you no longer want to keep and pack them up into labelled boxes ready to sell, donate or dispose of when restrictions are lifted. If you’re short on space to keep them, you can hire a self-storage unit for a few weeks to give you more room at home until you can deal with them properly.
Stacks of old newspapers, piles of paperwork and towers of books are all flammable and can be a serious fire hazard. Not only can items like these feed a household fire and help it to spread but they can also cause obstructions and block off escape routes making it harder for you to leave your property safely. A cluttered home is also more difficult for firefighters to enter if they need to rescue you or anyone else from your household during a fire. Make sure all your doorways are clear of stuff and that there are clear pathways through your home at all times.