Why Does Clutter Affect Our Mood?
What is clutter? - “Clutter is an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces,” said Joseph Ferrari.
Have you ever felt the negative impacts of clutter? There are many different reasons why clutter can manifest uncomfortable feelings such as frustration, anger, depression, sadness, overwhelm, and anxiety. When we enter a room where clutter is present, our brain becomes over stimulated. It makes it hard to concentrate, work, converse, or feel at peace. Our bodies end up releasing cortisol into our system which is the stress hormone associated with the fight-or-flight response. It is no wonder we are unable to feel grounded in an environment like this, seeing that all our body wants to do is flee in the opposite direction.
Now imagine this is your day-to-day situation and your body is continuously releasing cortisol into your system. You are constantly on edge and living in a heightened state. Anything else that crosses your path is going to escalate the already hyperarousal space that you are in. The impact that this would have on your physical, mental and emotional health could be detrimental to your body and self.
There are also other underlying explanations why clutter triggers us the way it does. Throughout various stages of our life, we are told how things should or should not be. This is instilled in us by our parents, relatives, friends, partners, roommates, work, media, etc., but how often do we stop to think about how we like a space? What values and beliefs are being represented in the space we live in, work in, occupy our time in? Are we being vocal to others about boundaries – in fact, do we even know what boundaries we require to feel grounded in a space?
The questions are endless; what, why, who, when, how? Why do I feel anxious in a cluttered space? Is it bringing up and triggering any childhood memories where there was no order, or conversely, where things had to be immaculate. No choice was given and we were told to live a certain way, even if it did not feel right or authentic. We carry these unconscious learned behaviours with us into adulthood and until we take a deep dive into why we do the things we do or feel the way we feel, the vicious cycle continues. In many instances the need to feel safe, heard or seen are at the forefront of it all. The first time I read this quote by Maya Angelou, was in the book Untamed written by Glennon Doyle - "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”. We learn how to know better by knowing ourselves through questioning, critical thinking and exploring new possibilities. Once I was able to understand that my brain does not function in cluttered spaces when I need to create, write or unwind, I understood what actions need to take place in order for that to happen. Maybe it is the Virgo in me, my type A personality when it comes to cleanliness, the environment I grew up in, or my unique brain which all contribute or influence how I creatively work in a space, but I do know that things need to be picked up, put away and organized before I can begin writing.
Does your space limit you at all?
Does clutter negatively impact your mood?