Is Cleaning Your Room Good for Your Mental Health?
Why does a well-made bed feel so satisfying to come home to?
My room is always a pretty exact reflection of my mental state.
When things aren't going well, it seems like everything spills into everything—clothes are falling out of drawers, old glasses of water and tea pile up, and the feeling of general disarray is just corroborated by the state of things.
On the other hand, whenever I clean my room, I've always felt an instant rush of clarity and focus. I know I'm not alone. Plenty of other people say the same thing: If you want to clean up your head, start with your room.
The Science Backs Up The Truth: How Cleaning Your Room Helps Clear Your Head
Countless studies have proven what I already know. One Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin study performed a linguistic analysis and found that "women who described their living spaces as "cluttered" or full of "unfinished projects" were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as "restful" and "restorative," according to Psychology Today. Women with messier spaces also showed a higher level of cortisol, often known as the "stress hormone."
In 2011, researchers at Princeton University found that clutter makes it more difficult to focus. The explanation for why this is is surprisingly logical: When multiple visual objects are competing for our attention, it's more difficult to narrow your focus down to single tasks. Clutter can also cause anxiety. Often, clutter literally reflects our mental state.
"The clutter you have, not only is bothersome to look at, but it also brings up many different emotions. Getting control of your clutter is important for this and many reasons. The disorganization can make you feel stressed, guilty, and uncomfortable. When you can't get to all of your belongings, and you feel overwhelmed and confused, it is natural to not even know where to start. Clutter has a profound impact on all of us in many ways. A messy environment is unsettling and holds us back from getting where we want to go," writes Remedy Grove. Clutter can feel like it's comforting, but in the end, it just winds up distracting us from the clarity we need.
Clean rooms can also help us sleep. A survey by the National Sleep Foundation concluded that people who make their beds in the morning are generally more likely to sleep better at night.
If you'd really like to make a significant change to your life and mental health, decluttering and cleaning your room might be a fantastic jumping-off point for some very necessary changes.
Good News for Messy People: You're Not Alone
So cleaning our rooms and homes is obviously an all-around net positive for mental health—but that doesn't mean we're all going to clean our rooms all the time. In fact, the truth is that many brilliant people are naturally messy. Messiness can be a sign of creativity—Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Mark Twain were famously messy, for example, perpetually surrounded by swirling papers.
It's also important to note that some people (obviously) have a much more difficult time avoiding clutter and mess than others. Factors like class, location, and storage space can certainly come into play in terms of a person's capacity to keep a place clean.
In the end, it's better to accept yourself than force yourself to stick to some regimen that you think is going to fix your life.