Keeping a clean and tidy home isn’t as easy for some as it is for others, no matter how many decluttering articles they read. Although each person’s level of organization and cleanliness changes, evidence suggests that a home that’s too messy could have a negative effect on your mental health.
For many, decluttering advice can be overwhelming, especially if clutter and dirt have unintentionally built up over time.
When home clutter starts to interfere with daily life, it can be a sign that your home needs help. Fortunately, there are several ways to declutter your home when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and asking for help is a great first step.
Here, experts assess whether or not a messy home can cause depression and offer solutions to help you get your home and your mind back in shape.
Can a dirty house cause depression?
While the studies (opens in a new tab)showed that there is a direct link between a messy or dirty room and depression. This is not surprising considering that decluttering has been proven to change your life.
A messy space isn’t a definitive symptom of poor mental health, but rather a possible warning sign — especially if it overwhelms you to the point of inaction and lack of motivation.
It is important to note that only a medical professional can diagnose a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety.
“A dirty or messy home can cause depression and/or make a bad mood worse,” says Phillip Hord, co-founder of Horderly Home Organizing. (opens in a new tab). “We’re not saying that’s the only cause of it, but it may contribute to it.
“Conversely, depression can easily cause a dirty/messy home. If you see any signs of this personally or from a friend/family member, don’t be afraid to offer help or suggest hiring a professional to come over if they’re overwhelmed with the idea. to tackle it on their own.
One of the main ways to help combat a messy or dirty home caused by a bad mood is to accept help and take some first steps towards improvement. You never know, a clean house might make you happier, at least just a little.
Most of the time, people can think about how to prevent a house from getting messy and take preventative measures. If they are exceeded, however, it is important to recognize that it may not be so easy.
Kim Grubbs, psychologist and founder of Downsize Matters (opens in a new tab) explains that there can be a significant emotional weight attached to decluttering and tidying up a home. “I think most of us will become depressed or discouraged when faced with a house full of clutter because the solution to amending it seems impossible. Additionally, most people have emotional attachments to their belongings and anticipate the loss of valuables before beginning the decluttering process.
“Since an independent source does not have the same attachment to someone else’s property, it can progress quickly in the clearing. I think it is imperative, however, to have some skill in being able to discuss grieving and loss issues before beginning the task of decluttering and downsizing. Reframing the process as the path to greater independence from the ‘prison’ of too many things will create a shift in the level of willingness to begin the process.’
How to get a messy room back in shape
One of the first steps to tidying up and decluttering a home when you’re overwhelmed is to figure out which parts of your home are the most important. Your kitchen may be the highest priority, or even your bedroom or living room if that’s where you spend the most time. Either way, it’s a good idea to start with a smaller area and set reasonable expectations, try to do this with someone who can help you if you can.
“My best suggestion for any kind of ‘load lightening’ project is to start by throwing away everything that is trash, in one place, before moving on to another place,” suggests Kim. “Closets and laundry rooms are great places to start.”
Another important step is to avoid comparing your home to other people. This is one of the biggest decluttering mistakes, especially with the rise of seemingly “perfect” social media accounts dedicated to maintaining perfect spaces. Spend time thinking about what worked for you in the past and what doesn’t work now. Your home doesn’t have to be completely spotless to help you feel a little better.
If you feel you need help with your mental health, there are many outlets available in the United States, including Mental Health America. (opens in a new tab)a charity that can direct you to the best service for you, and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing (opens in a new tab)which can be used to locate your local mental health centres.
Does a clean house help mental health?
Research suggests that your physical environment can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing, with messy or dirty homes having a negative impact on your mental wellbeing. One way to help combat poor mental health is to take action to improve your surroundings, whether you do it yourself or have help making your space the best it can be.
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