Decluttering Your Home: How Your Brain Is Working Against You

Decluttering Your Home: How Your Brain Is Working Against You

By | 2017-10-26T18:32:47+00:00 September, 5th|

Growing up, refusing to finish a meal would often result in a scolding about famine.
How can you let all of the food on your plate go to waste when there are children starving in the world? It’s no surprise that – as a result – we learn that, in a world of rapidly depleting natural resources, being wasteful is bad. It’s therefore fairly easy to understand why the human instinct to keep or collect things is so strong, and why so many households end up over-run by clutter.

Why Does Clutter Happen?

Clutter isn’t indicative of an inherent dirtiness or laziness, because the compulsion to hold onto your possessions comes from a place of good intentions. However, the tendency to retain random things can quickly and easily become excessive. Admit it – you’ve got a drawer in your house filled with old batteries, cables for appliances you no longer own, take-out menus for restaurants you never actually intend to order from, and a stationery store supply of dried up, inkless pens – haven’t you? At least once, you’ve found yourself physically unable to toss away an old key, even though you can’t seem to figure out what it locks or unlocks. Or you’ve kept an item of clothing that you haven’t worn in years because, once upon a time, you did like it wearing it? Is there a voice in your head that just won’t let you throw away your ancient cell phone, even though it’s now entirely obsolete and probably won’t even start?

That little voice is your conscience, and it is worrying itself sick thinking about how much money, time, or effort you might be wasting by throwing your things away. All of these conflicting thoughts and concerns mixed together can result in a feeling that can only be described as emotional paralysis; an inability to think rationally and make clear decisions about what to keep or throw away.

Of course, we all have a small collection of miscellaneous keepsakes that hold significant sentimental value to us, and that is perfectly fine. A tidy home doesn’t necessarily mean a barren home; one that is void of all the things that conjure happy childhood memories. You may adopt a minimalist approach, or you may prefer to live amongst your own version of ‘organised chaos’. The choice is entirely yours. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that disorganized clutter in your home can have a pronounced negative impact on your brain, and ultimately on your life.

What Does Clutter Do to Your Brain?

Clutter in the household, or even in the workplace, can have adverse effects on your brain’s ability to function. Clutter can make it difficult for you to focus, or properly process information. Imagine trying to work in a chaotically disorganized space; would you be able to pay attention to the task at hand, or would the surrounding mess distract you?

It’s hard to feel settled in an environment that is unsettling, and, as a result, your brain can become frazzled; leading to a decrease in its performance, and to increased levels of stress.

We’ve all heard someone refer to the process of downsizing as ‘therapeutic’, and they’re certainly not wrong. In fact, a UCLA study shows that there is a proven link between heightened cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in women, and clutter in their homes.

Clutter is often the result of a lack of time in the day to put things away, or properly organize your belongings. Leaving for work in a hurry, coming home exhausted. Trying to cook dinner, then get the kids bathed and ready for bed… Eventually the mess accumulates and the task of sorting through it becomes all the more daunting. Soon enough, feeling weighed down physically transitions into feeling weighed down mentally. Thus, something that was originally a product of stress becomes a cause of stress.

In some extreme circumstances, this vicious cycle can cause people to become overwhelmed or even depressed, with a messy home manifesting a lack of control over one’s own life.

Why is it So Hard to Declutter Your Home?

According to a recent study carried out by students at the Yale School of Medicine, your brain physically experiences pain over the loss of a possession; a feeling which is only heightened if you had committed to the item financially or emotionally. Subjects described the feeling of being confronted with having to throw out their junk as being “not right”. The region of the brain that is being affected is the same as the one that experiences psychological pain in a smoker or drug addict who is trying to quit.

The process of parting with a once treasured trinket can cause genuine turmoil. Therefore, downsizing, no matter the motivation, is never an easy task to tackle. Whether you’re relocating overseas, clearing a home for a loved one, or just doing a spring clean, trying to cull the contents of your home can be a confronting experience, and feel virtually insurmountable. You might set aside an entire afternoon for sorting through an old shoebox filled with photos, birthday cards, or letters, with the vision of downsizing its contents dramatically. Next thing you know, the sun has set, and you’ve done little more than admire and recall the story behind each prized possession.

Here to Help

Collecting clutter is a perfectly normal aspect of human behaviour, but if you’re feeling weighed down by a growing pile of possessions in your home and just don’t know how to begin tackling it, you may want to consider calling in the professionals. Property Clearance recognises that decluttering your home, or the home of a loved one, can be a difficult and emotional ordeal. That’s why it offers a range of decluttering services that are designed to help make the process as stress-free and easy as possible.

Contact the experts at Property Clearance today on 1300 200 292.