The Art of Cleaning and Mental Wellness: Transforming Your Home for a Better Life

Cleaning at My House

It’s Sunday morning, I am woken up by clanking sounds and drawers being closed, my mom is cleaning and it’s officially an acceptable time to make loud noise, it’s 10AM.  Weekends were typically serious cleaning days, a reset for the entire week: ironing outfits for the week, meal preps, laundry, sweeping & mopping, disinfecting, cleaning, cleaning and some more cleaning. Weekdays were also busy, dishes should be washed before bedtime, sweep and mop if needed and if there was time and the beds were made daily.  I wouldn’t change it for the world, the way I saw my grandmother and mother clean daily, keeping the house organized, functioning and warm with our belongings.  With the exception of now having products with fewer chemicals, not much has changed in my household in that we like to keep things tidy during the week and reset on the weekend.

I understand everyone has different lifestyles, a different way of organizing, a different way of arranging their belongings.  We’ll talk through the relationship between mental health and a clean and organized home environment, the benefits of cleaning, downsides of not having a healthy home environment and tips to get you started.  The intention of this blog is not to overwhelm you, but to send some inspiration your way, share the health benefits of tidiness and organization and to cheer you on YOUR journey, wherever you find yourself, and no matter what example you had growing up.

More Stress, Less Focus, Time Wasted

Previous studies have shown the impact on living in cluttered versus organized spaces.  Living in a cluttered space (i.e. a full sink, shoes & clothes on the floor, surface & counter spaces full of your belongings) where there is an overload of visual stimulation can prevent people from focusing, processing information and increases levels of stress (Liff, Psychology Today).  The amount of light, colors of the rooms, clutter/organization, a lack of space and even the location of your home can have an impact on your mental health.  Paying attention to these factors and creating a “stress-free” home environment can improve your mood and focus, offer a sense of accomplishment and improve your physical health.

In a cluttered environment, you can’t possibly relax.  Why?  There are clearly things that need to be done, ha!  Laughing, but seriously.  In a cluttered environment, your belongings aren’t organized or as I like to say “not in their place because everything has a place.”  I do understand that decluttering can be time consuming, expensive and stressful in itself as most people don’t know where to start.  My advice?  Start somewhere (one corner of a room, one countertop, one drawer, one box of items you haven’t touched in years).

Mental Health & Home Living

Mental health struggles such as depression are known to directly impact levels of motivation, energy and interest.  Depression can have an impact on your home cleanliness and organization due to the symptoms such as decrease in physical activity, motivation and decision-making abilities which are all needed to accomplish these cleaning and organizing efforts.

 

Benefits of a Clean & Organized Casa (Home)

  • Offers a sense of calm & safe, your home is your haven
  • A feeling of worthiness “I am worth the effort & space”
  • A curated space, custom fit to you and your loved ones
  • A cared-for, thoughtful, warm and inviting space with personal belongings that mean a lot to you and your loved ones
  • Clutter can have an effect on your mood and self-esteem leading to feelings of guilt and embarrassment (Darbe Saxbe PhD, Psycom)
  • Clutter can make it difficult to relax; due to lack of organization and it can become a time-waster (i.e. difficult to find keys, get dressed) (Darbe Saxbe PhD, Psycom)
  • Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, depression and fatigue have been found in individuals who felt their home was disorganized and messy compared to those who described their home environment as restful (Psycom)
  • Clean sheets and a made bed to crawl into at night has shown positive effects on individuals sleep (Liff, Psychology Today)
  • Moving around your house while you’re cleaning is good for your body as well and can be a great stress reliever (Psycom)
  • “Princeton University Neuroscience Institute have used fMRI and other approaches to show that our brains like order, and that constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to focus. They also found that when participants cleared clutter from their work environment, they were better able to focus and process information, and their productivity increased.” (Harvard Business Review)

Tips from the Experts

Do Your Bed: You’ll thank me later, after a long day.  Once you’re ready to crawl under the sheets, it will feel like your bed has been waiting for you all day.  Bonus: You have one laundry day for your sheets, pillow cases and comforter.  They smell amazing.

Start Small: One corner, one drawer, one closet, one section of your home.

Audio/Visual: Make it a cleaning party or a mini cleaning session and put on your favorite podcast or music videos, turn on some candles or your favorite cleaning lighting and playlists.

Timer Bestie: If you’re easily distracted, set a timer and complete a task and repeat as many times as you can; soon enough it will become a habit

Inventory Checklist: create a three column checklist; first column are items you can do on your own such as laundry, sorting mail, the second column are tasks that you may need handyman assistance with and the third column may need advanced attention and care with the help of advisors, counselors, attorneys etc (Teyhou Smyth Ph.D, Psychology Today)

Lights, Paint, & Window Treatments to set the mood throughout your home, reorganize some furniture, let some fresh air in and have some fun customizing YOUR space

End of Day Tidy Up: A quick organizing of your desk and creating a to do list for yourself can help you set the tone for a successful next day

Create Systems: simplify your cleaning and organization by creating simple rules (i.e. keys and wallet are by the entrance)

Be Mindful: give the tasks your attention and effort; ask yourself questions rooted in abundant thinking that consider what is meaningful and useful for you in the present (i.e. would it impact my daily life not to have this item? Is this item adding value to my life?) (Real Simple)

Celebrate: be proud of your accomplishment, for taking care of yourself and your home (Real Simple)

When are your cleaning days? Do you clean on the weekends? The weekdays?  Both?  Don’t have dedicated cleaning days?  Cleaning…what is that?  Our team came up with some amazing cleaning & decluttering tips.  We hope that whether you are feeling up or down, they can help you create an incredible custom fit environment:

Tune In: I personally like a large headset, it’s like I am transported to another world, of my choice.  Classical, Country, R&B, Meditation, Latin Pop…

15 Minute Challenge: Looks are deceiving, but sometimes the art of pretending can help us create a temporary illusion in our environment.  Pretend you have guests coming over in 15 minutes.  Proceed carefully (don’t trip over the clutter!) and quickly but carefully room per room put things away.  Quickly tidying up some of these items can help you set the foundation for the rest of your day to run smoothly (i.e. you’ll be able to find your keys, shower with a clean towel, get ready with clean clothes for the day).  For example:

  • Kitchen: throw dirty dishes in the dishwasher/sink, make sure they are at least rinsed and rid of food so that your sink doesn’t smell foul; disinfect and clear surfaces
  • Living Room: put items in their place, fluff pillows, wipe coffee table
  • Bedroom: do your bed, remove things off floor, put dirty & clean clothes away
  • Bathroom: disinfect and clear surfaces

Choose Your Cleaning Day(s)

  • Sunday: Laundry & Cleaning Day
  • Weekday: M-W-F Sweep & Mop

Set The Mood

  • light some candles
  • let some natural light in or adjust interior lighting
  • put some music, podcast or tv on, preferably something that won’t take your attention away from the goal

Organize

  • Purchase organizational tools & essentials (i.e. baskets, storage bins, dressers, cabinets) within budget

Discard

Donate/Reuse

Set a Monthly Budget

  • How much will you spend on cleaning supplies? (cleaning/disinfecting spray, detergent, garbage bags, napkins, clorox wipes)
  • What should you avoid purchasing to prevent overspending? (i.e. excess candles, fragrance/chemical containing products, non-functional decor and furniture)
  • Purchase décor & furniture wisely
    • Will this piece of furniture or art enhance my day to day living?
    • Does this go with my overall aesthetic? Do I have one? Do I care if it’s cohesive? Or is my style more abstract and whimsical?

Details: Pay attention to details (i.e. clean your vents, fans, the tops of cabinets)

Laundry: don’t let it pile up, start the week with a full wardrobe ready for you to choose from

Be Prepared: have the tools you need – towels, bucket, mop, broom, rags, dish rack, cleaning supplies

Envision Your Ideal Home: get creative, dream, rearrange furniture, what do you like or dislike

Resources

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-finesse/202102/create-mentally-healthy-home-environment-reduce-stress

https://www.psycom.net/anxiety/mental-health-benefits-cleaning

https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/clean-home-mental-health-benefits

https://hbr.org/2019/03/the-case-for-finally-cleaning-your-desk

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201607/the-powerful-psychology-behind-cleanliness

https://mhanational.org/surroundings/healthy-home-environment#:~:text=Your%20home%20can%20also%20impact,signs%20of%20anxiety%20and%20depression%20.

https://anzmh.asn.au/blog/how-your-home-impacts-your-mental-health

Additional Information

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-your-environment-affects-your-mental-health-5093687

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