Imagine this: You just woke up, the sun is peeking through your curtains, you’re snuggled into freshly washed sheets under your favorite comforter. You roll out of bed to a clean room, a vacuumed floor, your clothes are all clean, everything is in its place and you’re free to start your day how you please. How does that scene make you feel? Better than waking up to messes and to-do lists? Do you think mornings like these would make for a better start to your day? Here’s a hint - science says they would!
A study at Indiana University (1) showed that those with a tidier home were more physically well. There is no sure understanding as to why but there are a few theories. The first is that a cleaner home brings more motivation, waking up to less overwhelm and home-based tasks means more energy and mental space for other activities that keep us healthy. The next is the obvious, a clean home means less bacteria, dust, and germs lingering, leading to better air quality and cleaner surfaces. All of these combined with the seemingly minor effects of staying active by cleaning the home itself - whether we realize it or not, cleaning is a physical activity in itself that keeps us on our feet.
Physical health ties directly to our mental health, so everything we listed above contributes; but regarding mental health directly, those reporting a more cluttered and messy home or workspace were found to have higher cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and were more likely to have symptoms of depression or difficulty focusing. (2) Studies connect the two due to the known effects of our environment on our productivity levels and moods. However, we of course know that depression and mental health struggles themselves can affect our motivation and ability to clean, which can lead to more messes and higher overwhelm, but trying to tackle this portion can help keep symptoms lower.
Now look at these two photos, and take note of which one makes you feel better to look at:
The before and after view is therapeutic in itself. Our minds love seeing progress and organization in general, now imagine the satisfaction of seeing it in our own space! We know that it genuinely feels good to our brain and is easier on our eyes to see clean environments, we just have to prioritize it for our own homes, to give ourselves those good feelings and reap the wellness benefits everyday.