woman holding broom and looking at messy cluttered room

Ditch the Stuff: Too Much Clutter is Making Your Depression Worse

If you’re constantly surrounded by clutter, it could be making your depression worse.

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, that frustrating clutter could be contributing to and amplifying your symptoms.

Get the clutter under control, and your mental health may improve, too.

Clutter is Playing a Significant Role in Your Depression

By now, you’ve probably discovered that having too much stuff can make it difficult to get things done — but it can also drain and frustrate you.

Whether we want to admit it or not, clutter plays a significant role in how we feel — about our lives, and ourselves. It probably affects your mood more than you care to admit.

At the same time, it seems like it’s rarely discussed how clutter plays a key role in depression and anxiety.

But really, depression and clutter go hand-in-hand for many. It’s a vicious cycle, where anxiety or depression can lead to a cluttered space, but a cluttered space then worsens depression and anxiety.

How Clutter Makes Depression Symptoms Worse

Clutter can be distracting, by drawing attention away from what we should be focusing on. There’s a constant visual reminder that there is work to be done — but it’s likely not the work you’re trying to accomplish at the moment.

It can add to our feelings of guilt, plus it causes embarrassment, especially when others — mother in law, anyone? — unexpectedly drop by.

More importantly, all that clutter is visually bombarding. It’s excessive stimuli that is causing your senses to work overtime. In other words, it’s overloading your brain. This makes it really difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.

To make matters worse, it inhibits creativity and productivity. When clutter builds up, it can invade the open spaces that most people need to think, brainstorm, and problem-solve.

The extra mess leads to plenty of extra frustration, too, as it makes it difficult to easily locate the things we need.

It becomes overwhelming, because we never know what it’s going to take to get to the bottom of the pile. Meanwhile, it just keeps piling up.

Does any of that sound familiar? If so, it might be time to conquer the clutter.

Tips for Conquering the Clutter

Tackling the mess is an important way to help your mental health. But where do you start?

  • Remember that any little bit helps. Try not to focus on the whole house at once. Instead, try to focus on one room — or even one corner of a room — at a time. This can help you from getting too overwhelmed.
  • If you don’t live alone, enlist the help of the whole family. Divide and conquer by designating areas for each person to work on.
  • Make it fun by turning on some upbeat music to clean to. It will help make it a little more enjoyable, plus you’ll probably work faster, too. Don’t forget to stop every so often for a quick dance party!
  • If you don’t use it, don’t want it, or don’t need it, it is time to get rid of it. I know that it can sometimes be difficult to let go of useful things, even if you personally don’t use them. I’ve found that giving them away to someone who does need them makes it easier. Otherwise, toss it, recycle it, or donate it.
  • Create designated spots for frequently used items, and make sure to always put things back where they belong. This will help you easily find what you’re looking for when you need it. However, make sure these are “closed” spaces, like a drawer or container. If you store things out in the open, it won’t remove the visual stimuli that are overwhelming your brain.
  • Let me repeat that again. Make sure to always put things back where they belong! As soon as you’re finished with something, take the time to put it back into its designated space. This will take practice and commitment, but I promise it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Kat Sweet

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