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Why cleaning reduces stress

 Do the shelves, arrange your clothes or give the house a quick wipe down (Photo: iStock)

People will always give you a generic solution to stress. Talk to someone, do some meditation, journal, or even go for a short holiday. Surprising as it may be, that does not work for everyone. When stressed out, the last thing you really want to engage in is anything demanding of your time.

You just want to be left alone and wallow in your feelings, preferably on the couch or bed. Yet, there are those people who would rather dust the shelves, rearrange the closet or give the house a quick wipe down.

Here is how that works. The sight of a clean and well-organised home helps them feel much better while the opposite is true. According to studies, the state of your house has a direct impact on your mental health.

Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who described their living spaces as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more likely to be fatigued and depressed than women who described their homes as restful and restorative. It was also found that the women with messy or cluttered homes had higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone released from the adrenal glands.

In short, clutter and mess create more stress. A study by Princeton University also found that a dirty house made it difficult to concentrate and focus on one task because you get overwhelmed with things that are not related to what you are doing. Filthy homes are also linked to confusion, tension, and irritability while a clean home leads to feelings of calmness and wellbeing.

Therefore, when you engage in cleaning, it allows you to conquer a major hurdle and take some control of your life. This provides a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. A clean home has also been discovered to affect your physical health too.

Research scientist, PhD, and professor at Indiana University, Nicole Keith, came to the conclusion that people with clean houses tend to be healthier than those with messy or cluttered homes.

So when you feel the urge to clean or declutter when you are stressed, your mind is looking for a way to bring some order into your space. On top of that, a clean home improves your mood because you are able to sleep better and you are less anxious. The fewer things you have and the more order there is in your home the easier it is for you to become less irritable and process information better. This is because there are fewer things competing for your brain’s attention.

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