Medical professionals and organizers alike believe that a cluttered home is not just an aesthetic problem — it can lead to very real health issues like insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, and depression. Done & Done NYC has worked with many clients who experience health symptoms related to a messy house and a messy mind. Based on our extensive experience, we have zeroed in on the biggest problem areas in your home, and can teach you how to clear harmful clutter.
1. Cluttered surfaces can create anxiety.
The Problem: Surfaces covered in papers, makeup, clothes, and dishes create a sense of visual chaos.
How it affects you health: You will almost certainly have trouble finding what you need, which can lead to the stressful experience of rushing out of the house every morning. Do you lose important things, like your car keys or work documents in your own home? Increased stress levels can raise your cortisol levels and increase your risk of cardiovascular issues and anxiety and insomnia. It will make you more distracted and less productive. It can also spread stress to your roommates, family members, and co-workers, which can lead to interpersonal conflicts.
The Solution: Schedule a weekend to declutter your home. Purge your closet, open the mail that's piling up, and buy some attractive bins to keep items by category like makeup, office supplies, and other items. Then, establish an ironclad daily routine. Kate's Pawlowski, cofounder of Done & Done NYC, suggests, "after having coffee, spend five minutes on each of the following tasks: clearing tables, loading the dishwasher, fold clothes, make your bed. This way, you will never have to return to a messy house after a long work day, and prevent a clutter relapse by letting things pile up."
2. Messy, unfinished projects can lead to depression.
The Problem: Your knitting is in a knotted pile on the floor of your bedroom. Or you started crafting, but halfway through had to leave to go out. That was six months ago and you still haven't picked it back up!
How it affects your health: The feeling of never finishing a project can reinforce negative beliefs about ourselves that affect our self-esteem. These hobbies are important to our creative lives and should be outlets for our creativity, not a drain on our energy.
The Solution: Create a dedicated workspace for your projects. If you don't have the space for a desk and storage, then organize each project into bins and stack them in a closet. The objective is to centralize your projects in one place so they don't spill all over your house. If you are in the middle of one right now, and don't have the time or willingness to finish: give yourself permission to throw it away, and start again another time. Remember: hobbies are supposed to be pleasurable and stress relieving!
3. A chaotic bedroom can prevent a good night's sleep.
The Problem: Your bedroom doubles as your living room and home office, and the floor is a stew of papers, clothes, and blankets.
How it affects your health: Even if you're not conscious of it, a cluttered bedroom can make you restless and keyed up before bed. Insomnia can reinforce anxiety and leave you lethargic all day long.
The Solution: If possible, take all nonsleep related things out of the bedroom. Your laptop should live in your office or in your living room, as should all work and creative things. Fold your clothes neatly in your closet to keep your floor clear. Kate even keeps her phone in her living room at all times, so she isn't tempted to scroll through her Instagram feed before bed. Make a rule about what goes in your bedroom and keep it totally analog: a good book, a cup of herbal tea, and a snuggly blanket (or snuggle buddy!).
4. Holding onto things you don't use can lead to weight gain.
The Problem: You feel so overwhelmed at home that your meals are a mad dash to the fridge. You have so much on your mind, carving out the time to go to the gym isn't an option. Sitting down to a peaceful meditation in the morning? Please.
How it affects your health: You may not think that clutter, meditation, and weight gain are related, but they definitely are. Peter Walsh, fellow professional organizer, argues that the stress of a cluttered home can elevate certain hormones that cause your body to hold onto excess weight. Not to mention that a calm mind is more in tune with the body, and is apt to choose healthier foods.
The Solution: Once you're finished with your living room and bedroom clear out, move onto your kitchen. Organize your refrigerator into sections. Proteins such as meat and tofu can go on one shelf, vegetables and fruits in the drawer, milk and yogurt on the shelf. Being able to see what's in your fridge will let you shop smarter when at the grocery store, so you always have what you need. Also, your newly organized home will give you the mental clarity to truly be able to ask yourself, "What do I want to eat?" Meals are no longer acts of hurried desperation, but thoughtful and mindful experiences.
Change doesn't happen overnight. Be kind to yourself during this process — you are trying your best! And so am I, imperfectly.