Decluttering Can Actually Improve Your Life—Here's How

Whether it’s because of the aftermath of the holidays or the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy for your home to succumb to clutter.

By Meghan Dillon3 min read
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If you’re stressed out by a cluttered home, you’re not alone, and the same goes for those who are overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering. Luckily for you, there are several benefits to decluttering that will help motivate you and plenty of strategies to help you get started.

Study Shows That Clutter Increases Cortisol Levels

According to a 2010 study, women are more likely to experience increased cortisol levels due to clutter than men. Other studies show that the thought of decluttering can also make women anxious due to increased cortisol levels. 

According to Real Simple, “A separate study found a link between procrastination and clutter. Those who put off doing unpleasant tasks, like paying bills, also put off the difficult work of decluttering their homes. Taking into account the results of both studies, it begs the question: Are we stressed because we have clutter, or do we have clutter because we're too stressed to deal with it? Or, do the two create a feedback loop that allows our stash of mail and clothes and books and unpaid bills (and stress!) to continually build?”

The feedback loop theory makes sense – it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to know that increased cortisol levels can make you anxious. Life is already stressful enough. Why not make it a little easier by decluttering your home?

There are several other benefits to decluttering. Having less clutter will help you stay focused and creative. We all know it’s nearly impossible to get any work done with a messy desk simply because there’s so much to be distracted by. Looking at clutter “competes for your brain resources, prevents focus, and limits processing power.” Consider decluttering your workspace and embracing a minimalist aesthetic for peak productivity and creativity.

Having less clutter will also boost your mood. Remember, less clutter = less cortisol, but there’s also the emotional aspect of why you have the clutter in the first place. Are you holding onto other people’s possessions because of a boundary issue? Are you holding onto too much from the past because you can’t let go? Are you not putting things away because of depression? Are you afraid you might need something in the future so you won’t get rid of it even though you haven’t touched it in five years? Decluttering your space will help you confront the underlying issue and declutter your mind, helping you start the new year with a healthier headspace.

Cleaning up the clutter can also lower your risk of asthma and allergies. According to WebMD, “decluttering can prevent pests and reduce dust, mold, and mildew, which may trigger asthma and allergies.” With flu season at its peak, why give your lungs anything else to deal with?

There are plenty of reasons why biting the bullet to start decluttering can make you feel better, and more than one way to start decluttering.

How To Declutter 

Take It Slow

Sometimes, decluttering can induce anxiety because there’s so much to clean up. In order to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed, make a list of areas in your home to declutter and check them off the list one by one. You could tackle one area or room a day. You’ll feel better every time you check off something on your list, and it won’t be as overwhelming as taking it all on at once.

The KonMari Method

Marie Kondo became famous a few years ago for her KonMari decluttering method (and her Netflix show). The method “encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.” 

This method is great for those who are overly sentimental because objects are placed into two categories: “sparks joy” and “no longer sparks joy.” This takes away a lot of the anxiety of decluttering by simplifying it. You can see her six rules for cleaning up here.

Ask for Help

If you have a lot to declutter, there’s no shame in asking for help from a trusted friend or family member. This comes in handy when it comes to sentimental items because it’s easier to let something go when someone else is holding the item. It also helps to have someone ask you “When was the last time you used this?” or “Tell me why you really want to keep this.” This is also a great method if you have kids, teaching them how to declutter early in life.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you want to dive into 2023 with a clean slate for aesthetics sake or want to declutter to help your mental health, there are plenty of reasons to declutter and endless ways to start. Find out what’s best for you and start cleaning! We promise you’ll feel better afterward.

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