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Tidy Home, Tidy Mind - The Psychological Impact of Cleanliness

Love or hate cleaning, there’s little doubt of its positive effect on the aesthetics of your home. But how does cleanliness impact the way you feel? (Tired is not the answer I’m looking for!)

Let’s explore how a spotless home and the act of making it so can alter our state of mind. Can being untidy be bad for you? How much does purging our mess help us? Maybe, in the process of asking these questions, we’ll feel more motivated about spending precious downtime with a soapy sponge rather than a tv remote.

I’ll get the bin liners and rubber gloves out, just in case...

Clean yourself into Zen

There’s nothing better than getting into bed when your sheets have been freshly washed. It relaxes you because it’s a job you no longer need to do. And you feel calm because your bed is hygienic, eliminating that worry of being dirty.

And when you apply this to your home as a whole, the effect is the same. If you try to relax when your house is a mess, you might find it difficult to switch off because there’s work to be done. Of course, people will be emotionally affected by their mess in different ways. But it makes sense that by keeping on top of your chores, you remove that aforementioned stress, putting you in a tranquil mood to enjoy resting at home.

Boost your productivity

As I write these words, I’m looking at the mess around my desk that has accumulated from a day’s work: pens, empty glasses of water, paper and notebooks filling in the blank spaces. I feel disorganised, and I know that if I try to search for a detail in all this chaos, it’s going to take some time.

Having an uncluttered home, by default, makes you more productive. You’re spending less time thinking, “where did I put x, y and z”, giving you the focus and minutes to do something else. It’s important to make sure you are organised as well as tidy, though. If you tidy up and put things in a new location that’s difficult to remember, you’re just creating a new problem.

Embrace minimalism

Speaking of forgetting where things are, you can also eliminate this time-consuming task by adopting a minimalist mindset. It’s not easy if your possessions carry sentimental value, or if you like to have rooms filled with attractive things. But it might be worth pursuing for the emotional benefits.

Think about it: if you have less material objects in your home, you wouldn't concern yourself with polishing all those extra vases and ornaments; things you don’t really need. It’s five or ten tasks you don’t have to think about. Your brain would love that clarity. It would take you half the time to wind down, to enjoy being at home, or to direct your mind towards something more creative.

Improve your mood

I used to think that people were being dramatic when they said: “Being untidy makes me unhappy.” But when I really think about it, being messy can make you sad, because it has the power to exasperate a negative emotion that might already be there.

Say you came home feeling grumpy. A messy home is unwelcoming and demoralising; emotions that will make you feel worse, not better. And then there’s the anxiety caused by the situation of your home, and being too busy or too tired to tackle it, especially if you care about what visitors might think, (because who doesn’t?)

So, cleanliness can absolutely make you happy. If you prefer order over chaos, coming home to a spotless, personal space can cheer you up on a bad day. And it can help us feel proud, rather than worried when we think about what others might say.

Feel a sense of accomplishment

There’s no doubt about it, maintaining a spotless home is hard work. It requires a lot of elbow grease and a legitimate amount of mental effort (wait… did I use that cloth to wipe the bathroom or that cloth?) And it takes time. Doing a simple task like hoovering can take 30 minutes or more. And then there’s ironing, which can often take a whole season of Netflix to get through (or is that just me?).

All that time, energy and effort… when you see that manifesting into a spruced up space, it gives you a great sense of pride and accomplishment. And the reward of being able to enjoy it, makes that feat so much sweeter.

Ready to get stuck in?

If having a tidy home can truly make you feel calmer, productive, happy and accomplished, then it’s the cheapest therapy around. It’s also evident that, whilst cleaning takes time, it generates it too, giving us more mental space to do activities that contribute to our happiness.

What do you think? Are you already a domestic pro? Or is there room for improvement? I haven’t always liked tackling mess, but over the years my commitment (and enjoyment) to daily chores has increased substantially. I think a lot of that is down to understanding the benefits of all that hard labour, and knowing how to make it fun. Speaking of which, I’ll leave you with some bonus tips to make your sprucing sessions a little more enjoyable. Give them a try, and good luck!

● Listen to music (and sing!)
● Listen to a podcast or the radio
● Rearrange your furniture
● Have a clear out
● Scrub away with a friend
● Wear a Fitbit and see how many calories you burn
● Buy brand new cleaning utensils
● Do it on a sunny day with the windows and doors open
● Plan your reward(s)!


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