October might conjure up images of sweaters, pumpkin lattes and Halloween celebrations, but it also happens to be health literacy month! And while piles of leaves add festivity to this autumnal season, piles of clutter and an endless, unfulfilled mission to get organized can actually impact your physical and mental health in the same way a poor diet or lack of exercise does. Here are just a few ways clearing clutter will help you get back on track to being the healthiest version of yourself – Just in time for the start of the holidays.
Reduces stress and depression
According to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,women who described their homes as “full of unfinished projects” or “cluttered” had higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and also reported feeling more fatigued and depressed than those who said their home were “restful” or “restorative.” Inversely, when you clear the physical stuff, your mental space will feel more clear, relaxed and happy. So do yourself a favor and jump on those de-cluttering projects now. You'll feel so much lighter.
Helps you eat healthier and lose weight
Speaking of lighter, did you know that you're more likely to choose unhealthier foods in a cluttered environment? Since clutter is stressful for the brain, you'll crave comfort foods and tend to overeat, leading to weight gain over time and a myriad of closely connected health problems. In fact, those who live in super cluttered home are 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. Moreover, people who work in a tidy environment are two times more likely to choose an apple to eat rather than a chocolate bar, according to a study from Psychological Science. So if you don't want to snack all day at your desk, simply organize it – and keep it that way.
An organized life can lead to better relationships. In partnerships like marriage or roommate situations, clutter can cause tension, strain and conflict. The time you spend arguing about cleaning habits or looking for missing things around the house could be better spent on bonding activities. Likewise, a messy house could lead to shame and embarrassment, making you less likely to invite friends over – And it's been proven that maintaining strong relationships can help ward off stress and depression.
Clutter is distracting – Literally. In fact, it can interfere with your ability to process information by overstimulating your visual cortex, according to the Journal of Neuroscience. That means getting organized will help streamline your thought process, making you a more productive and efficient worker – And as an added bonus, if you're more efficient as your job, you'll have more free time to spend with people you love and hobbies you enjoy.
Helps you sleep
Clutter equals stress (even if you don't realize it), and stress typically does not lead to a good night's sleep. More specifically, even something as simple as making your bed impacts your ability to catch zzz's. So do yourself a favor and create a restful, clutter-free environment in your bedroom.
Decreases your risk of a heart attack
Last but definitely not least, organizing and cleaning can lower your risk of having a cardiovascular incident, according to Reader's Digest. They reported that in a Swedish study, participants who did the most yard work, DIY projects and organizing had a 30 percent lower risk of suffering from a heart attack. One more reason to roll up your sleeves and get to work around the house!