How Clutter is Affecting Your Health

If you’re busy, that’s normally a sign that you’re being productive and getting stuff done. That’s great, right? Well, being busy can easily lead to something less great; a never-ending cycle of clutter. 

Picture an artist’s desk. If they weren’t busy, the canvas would be clean; the paints would be neatly away and there wouldn’t be any scrapped designs to litter the floor. However, if they’re busy, all these things become an issue – and the cycle begins when you realise you’re too busy to tidy it all up. 

This might just seem like an aesthetic issue, but there’s more to clutter than meets the eye. It can easily become a health hazard, but the danger isn’t just limited to the physical, as plenty of mental health issues have been linked to clutter, too. 

When you’re busy, you probably want to prioritise tackling the issues that are the loudest and most obvious; that’s how these more ‘invisible’ mental issues can easily go under the radar and cause the most issues. That’s what makes them so important to address, and we want to highlight why it’s important to do that and what can happen if you don’t. 

Defining “collecting” and “hoarding”

The mountains of glass and piles of pizza boxes left behind by something like a party definitely constitutes a ‘mess’, but there’s a level beyond that. Hoarding doesn’t just make a good basis for (many, many) reality TV shows, but is an issue that affects approximately 1,650,000 people in Great Britain. Comparatively, 30% of all British adults consider themselves collectors. The difference can be hard to recognise but is fairly easy to define. 

Collectors show pride in what they own, hoarders don’t. 

If you visit the house of a friend that collects vinyl records, they’ll likely have them neatly packaged and stored away nicely; the same goes with collectors of stamps, or jewellery, or wine. However, if items are being hoarded, they’re more likely to be in disarray and uncatalogued. 

There have been cases all over the world where hoardings have literally taken up an entire home to the point of squalor. Like we said before, there are plenty of issues that can arise from this outside of the obvious eyesore. Let’s take a closer look.

Be messy, get stressy

The mess that can be caused by hoarding, or just taking time to clean your flat, can lead to serious health issues. 

Most obviously, a mess can create numerous tripping hazards throughout the home; where 23.5% of all deaths occurred throughout England in 2016 (source). Rubbish of an organic nature, such as rotting food, also pose a major biological risk. However, outside of stomach bugs and scraped elbows, clutter can also have a damaging impact on your mental health. These issues may include: 

  • Stress, fatigue and depression
  • Unhealthy overeating
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Respiratory issues
  • Attention

Surveys even show that 28% of employers are less likely to promote someone that is messy, while compulsive hoarders have an average of seven absences per month. 

How to reduce clutter

If you’re guilty of hoarding, then the best advice is to be less sentimental. It’s easy to get carried away thinking that everything has a purpose and you’ll need it eventually, but the truth is you’re just lying to yourself to justify keeping hold of it.

However, if you’re just a bit messy, then we’d recommend two things: store what you want, and bin what you don’t. New shelves and drawers can be great for making a place feel tidy while buying a few extra bins to leave in different rooms will make getting rid of rubbish a lot easier. 

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