Getting Control of Your Stuff Is Good for Your Health, and Science Can Prove It

Frankly, clutter makes us feel crappy. That’s why, every year, after the ball drops, oodles of us vow this year we will get organized. But, as days, weeks and months pass and we resume our daily routines, the determination to declutter tends to diminish. Perhaps your inner neat freak merely needs an incentive to jump-start the organizing process: Science shows excess clutter is bad for your health.

Of course, too many things lying around has clear health hazards, such as tripping over toys in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, clutter causes many internal problems which – although less obvious than the Lego maze strewn across your family room floor – are quite impactful on your life. Read on to learn five reasons why getting organized is vital to your overall well-being.


5 Health Benefits of Being Organized

1. Boost Your Energy and Productivity

According to WebMD, decluttering the items around you can boost your physical and mental energy. So, if you’re experiencing a midday slump and can’t seem to shake it, take some time to organize your surroundings. Just 10 minutes sorting paperwork, deleting unnecessary emails, or washing dirty dishes can be enough to spur a productive working spree for the rest of the day.

Additionally, researchers at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute discovered clutter can make it harder to focus on your task at hand. Notably, they found the visual cortex can be overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects, making it more difficult to concentrate and complete tasks efficiently. To sum up, too much stuff is distracting. Clear the clutter and get more done.


2. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

A study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed disorganization is stressful for the brain. Women who described their homes as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued as opposed to women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.” The researchers also found the women with cluttered homes had higher levels of cortisol (a hormone your body releases when you’re under stress).


3. Sleep Better

You might not be getting enough shut-eye because of your messy bed. A public opinion poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found people who make their beds every day or almost every day are 19 percent more likely than those who do so less or not at all to say they regularly get a good night’s sleep. In addition, the people surveyed reported benefits from having clean linens. Specifically, 75 percent said they get a better night’s rest when their sheets are fresh because they feel more comfortable.


4. Lose Weight

A study published in Psychological Science showed people in an orderly room are more like to choose healthier snacks than those people in a disorganized room. When faced with a stressful situation, people tend to resort to coping mechanisms such as comfort foods or overeating.

Interestingly, the researchers also found the participants in the disorderly environment were more creative than the people in the orderly room. Score one for clutter, but if your goal’s to get healthy, please keep reading. A study in the Journal of Obesity discovered people who plan their exercise program, set short-term goals, and regularly record their progress are more likely to achieve long-term weight control.


5. Improve Your Financial Health

If you’ve ever missed a payment and incurred a late fee or sat amid a sea of mangled receipts right before tax time, you understand how stressful a household’s finances can be. When it comes to organizing your finances, here’s something to remember: There’s an app for that.

U.S. News rounded up a helpful list of The 7 Best Tools for Organizing Your Financial Life. From keeping track of bill payments to putting money away for a rainy day, these tools will help you stay organized and make you feel a whole lot better in the process.


The Bottom Line

Clutter happens to all of us at one time or another and regaining control over the chaos is challenging. Fortunately, science has shown getting organized has health benefits. Plus, small changes and subsequent improvements in one area can lead to positive effects in other areas. For example, less stress means a better night’s sleep. This just might be the motivation you need to kick your organizing goals into high gear.