Improving Your Mental Health By Tidying Up: Say Bye Bye to Mess
A friend of mine ends up cleaning her room every time she feels low or distressed.
When I got to know about this behavior or as I would say the coping mechanism of hers, I was confused. So, I started my research on the same and came across this amazing book called- “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Ever since my view towards cleaning things up has changed and now the mental health benefits it has to offer are clearer in my head.
One important lesson to learn here is that tidying up is not just about cleaning your wardrobe, organizing your space or decluttering stuff. Rather, it is also about letting things go, avoiding hoarding and keeping the necessary things in life alone.
Let us first understand what the basic rules of tidying up are, as suggested by Marie Kondo:
- Clear out first and clear out everything in a go or in a brief period of time.
- Keep only those things that give you sheer happiness and a spark of joy.
- Remove things by category. This will help you find the duplicates that you have but are not aware of, thus making the whole tidying up process all the more effective. A tip here as proposed by Marie Kondo is, to start from clothes, then books and other stationery items, followed by shoes and miscellaneous things.
- Instead of focusing and searching YouTube for ‘DIY smart storage idea,’ think of getting rid of items that you really don’t need.
Personal tip: “3 Month Rule” If you haven’t used a particular item say a camera or a mug for 3 months now, discard it.
- Never stack!!! Store things in a vertical manner instead. (I was least convinced with this one personally, but it turned out to be the one)
With these rules stated you can start with the tidying up process now the Marie Kondo way (wink wink)
Now it is time to understand how cleaning up is can boost your mental health:
Clears the Chaos in Head
Imagine having a mind with different memories, information, experiences, and emotions scattered all over! All chaotic, making it difficult to gather relevant information as and when required.
Similarly, the chaos in our surroundings takes up space in our heads as well, leaving an unhealthy impact on our mental health.
In such conditions, cleaning up can help as it allows things to be categorized. Thus, making our mind work better by storing knowledge in a certain and separate manner.
Unloads Your Cognitive Space
Liz Savage, a professional organizer quotes…
“The size of the mess may stay the same, but your feelings about the mess may get bigger and bigger”
This explains that the mess you see accumulates much larger cognitive space than you are aware of, leading to little or no space for storing and performing important information. Therefore, tidying up becomes important. Here Marie Kondo’s 5th rule comes into play. Vertical sorting distorts the pile-up image of the mess thus, giving room to other cognitive processes.
Allows to Stay in Present
Many times we hold onto an item because we choose its sentimental value over the actual usage. But, it leaves an impact on our mental health, without us knowing. This becomes a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now (Marie Kondo). Therefore, it is suggested to handle each sentimental item and decide what to discard. It might be difficult at first but, ultimately it will make you stay in the moment, feeling light and nice.
Lowers Stress Level
The mess around works as an external stressor as well, inducing stress. Here, tidying up is like freeing, having fewer things around thus having to make fewer decisions. It ends up making you feel a bit more control over your own world thus, reducing stress.
Studies have found that a disorganized environment not only hampers our sleep but also prompts us to eat more junk food, leaving a negative impact on our physical and mental health. Therefore, tidying up is recommended in order to have a healthy body, leading to a healthy mind.
Improves Emotional Intelligence
A cleaned-up surrounding allows us to interpret emotional expressions more correctly than a messy one, as suggested by a 2016 U.S. study. The underlying reasons behind the same are, messy surrounding works as a distraction in the first place, leading to frustration. Thus, interfering in our ability to perceive and judge emotions. To boost up your emotional intelligence, tidying up is definitely recommended.
Now, next time when you feel distressed or sad you know exactly what to do… Tie your hair, start tidying up, and improve your mental health.
NOTE: Don’t make this habit a compulsion.
Happy tidying up to you 😉