How Clutter causes Stress and Anxiety (and What You Can Do About It)

How Clutter causes Stress and Anxiety

(and What You Can Do About It)

We’ve all been there. You come home after a hard day’s work and you’re greeted by mess. Everywhere you look, something needs to be cleaned up, or tidied, or moved.

All you wanted to do was relax, maybe jump in the bath or load up Netflix and get lost in your favorite series with a bowl of ice cream.
Instead, you open the front door and want to cry.
You look around, feeling dirty just standing there. If only you could wave a magic wand and clear the whole place up with a spell. Instead, you know that you’ll have to spend a good few hours doing it all manually.
Besides being unhygienic and visually unappealing, the main problem with clutter and mess is that they stress us out. Psychologists have found that an untidy living or working environment leaves us feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed.
When things are untidy, they take a toll on your mental health.
This is why it’s so easy to slip into depression when you’re in a messy environment. You feel helpless, low on energy, and powerless to do anything about the horrible state your surroundings are in.
The clutter and depression make each other worse, leading to a steadily worsening vicious cycle that you can’t get any relief from.
Clutter takes our attention away from the things that really deserve it. It tells our brains that our work will never be finished and that there’s always going to be more to do.
It makes it hard for us to relax, both mentally and physically. It makes us feel guilty, it hampers our productivity, and it frustrates us because we can never find the things we need.
Yeah. Clutter sucks.
The good news is that the solution is actually pretty simple, although it’s not always necessarily easy. You need to clear up the mess to allow your mind to have the space it needs to rest and recharge.
Don’t rush in to tackle it all by yourself at once, though. There are a few things that you can do in advance to make the whole process way easier and far less stressful.
First, put some upbeat music on. This will help to energize and motivate you.
Also, unless you live alone, the likelihood is that there are other people in the house who are just as responsible for the clutter as you. Get the whole family or your housemates to help you tidy up.
When you start clearing up, grab a couple of trash bags and put anything you don’t need or want straight in there. You can sort through it all later to make sure it all goes to the right place. Whether you recycle it, throw it away, or donate it, it doesn’t matter. For now, you just need to focus on getting it out of the way.
Once you’ve started clearing up, don’t stop until you’ve finished. It’s far easier to concentrate on doing something and getting it completed if you don’t continuously stop and start. Stopping halfway through a task makes it way harder to resume and keep going.
Make sure everything in your house has its own set place, and put things back there after you’re done using them. This will minimize the amount of clutter that can build up in the first place.
Once you’re finished, reward yourself with some time to relax and chill. You’ve earned it!
Written by Maverick, Staff Writer at Lessons Learned In Life Inc. ©️

Related Articles


  1. Good article. Perhaps another time you could address the problem suffered by people with anxiety and depression, who cannot function enough to clean house some days. When you already are depressed, you can look at it and feel so overwhelmed that you literally cannot move your body to do it. No matter how much your mind wants to!

  2. Good comment Sue. That’s exactly where I am right now. It’s very overwhelming AND I live alone. No one to help me but me…😌

  3. This article is definitely relevant for me. I think the clutter in my home causes greater depression. It makes me so frustrated seeing the ‘junk’ in my life! I live alone so I know it’s all my mess. The music tip is super helpful – having some favorite music playing really helps me accomplish a lot. And trash bags! I love being able to fill up a trash bag and carry it out of my home – it helps me feel like I’ve made some progress in junk removal, even if it’s just a small part of the big pile. My latest obsession is finding ratty clothes, shoes, linens and towels, because the local girl scouts use textile collection as a fund-raising effort, so I don’t feel guilty giving away that old icky stuff that I won’t use or wear. I don’t have time to do ALL the de-cluttering in one day; but it’s so high on my To-Do list that I look forward to being able to block out several hours of personal time to make a dent in it at least once a week. Maybe by end of summer I will have gotten rid of this stuff I accumulated in the past 25 years! I hope so!

  4. Very true Trish I also live alone and have a full time business. After a recent Car accident, my energy is zapped but I take one task and complete it but I may rest for 5 mins in between until task is done. If any energy left I may start on next task/ clutter but will rest in between but only a 5 min rest! Hey it gets done right? Hook luck!

  5. No matter how bad a mess it is, set a small goal like one table top aka “dining room table clear”. You’ll feel good that you accomplished something. Give yourself a treat (not junk food or something that’s not good for you). Tomorrow “clean off the hutch cabinet and vacuum the dining room”. After that, celebrate that one room is done and write it down and put it on the frig. Some things may take a week, some, one evening. Walk through the dining room for inspiration. You might want to put a big folded note / sign on the table, “DON’T even THINK of leaving that here!”.

  6. I’m older now and have pain issues. So I HAVE to stop. I can’t go full tilt anymore. I am also not focused like I used to be. I find clutter to be overwhelming yet I can’t seem to get it together anymore. Ugh. I think I’ll try putting stuff in a box or bag and see how that goes. Getting older and losing fo us sucks! LoL. I used to be neurotically organized. Those days are gone.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: