4 MIN READ | General

Why Mess Causes Stress: How Clutter Affects Your Brain

Victoria Lim

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Throughout our whole life, we’re collecting all kinds of memorabilia that we’ll probably never going to use or need. When we are not the ones who collect them, they come in the form of various presents for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. Additionally, there are always things we think are going to find their purpose one day, that we’ll probably gonna use them when the time comes. Or we just paid a lot of money for them and we just hope we’re gonna use them for something. All these things sooner or later turn to clutter and turn our home into a warehouse. They become distractions and not being able to sort them out they begin to make us stressed, and as a result, our productivity suffers. This mess around us has a strong impact on our brain, which is sometimes even responsible for our inability to get rid of clutter. This could become serious that some people seek help and speak to a licensed therapist at Psychology Help.

Your brain is not a computer

Today almost every person is required to develop multitasking skills in order to complete a great number of daily tasks which are put in front of us as a result of the rapidly increasing rhythm of life. These skills function in a way that they split our brain among this numerous obligations. While this method can increase our performance without serious consequences if your home or office is filled with clutter it will overload your brain with unimportant information and make it impossible for you to focus on the tasks you need to complete. The thing is that all that piled stuff simply overloads your senses as every single thing from that pile is competing for your attention. As a result, your inability to concentrate will make you stressed and decrease your performance.

It’s time to get disconnected

Clutter is not just something you keep on your desk or things you trip over while walking through your home. It also lives on your computer, tablet or smartphone. We live in a technological time where we’re connected to the whole world through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This keeps us ‛notified’ about every single totally unimportant things, such as every like or every share we get. Needless to say, all these notifications also have a negative impact on our concentration, dividing our attention. These keep-me-posted things in most cases lead to overconsumption and manifest themselves in the form of digital clutter which has the same (if not worse) impact on your brain. You don’t need to be obsessed with your Facebook profile to experience this form of brain pollution. Every time you hear notification sound from your phone or feel the vibration in your pocket your attention is already split. You will lose your ability to filter information and will become completely unable to switch effectively between your tasks. Your memory will also start to fade and all these things again lead to decreased performance.

Out of sight is out of mind

No matter how mighty your powers of concentration are, you will never be able to reach the peak of your performance until you clean up the mess around you. By cleaning up I don’t mean just to clean things up, you need to keep your clutter out of sight in order to keep it out of mind. Of course, not everything has to disappear – you need to decide your priorities and get rid of the rest.  When you have such a difficult task as complete re-organisation ahead of you, it’s good to know a trick or two that has become a method proven to be able to do the job.

  • Keep your hands away – People can get addicted to things in their environment in various different ways and one of the simplest ones is an ordinary touch. It has been scientifically proven that you can get emotionally attached to clutter just by holding it in your hands too often. As you physically interact with things their value begins to increase. So try to resist touching things you don’t need to use.
  • Realise that likes are unimportant – Today one of the most important things has become the other people’s opinion about yourself. That opinion is mainly built in the area of social networks. You need to realise that the fact someone ‛likes’ you on Facebook doesn’t mean you’re becoming a better person. Obsessed with their profiles (and profiles of other, too), people often get addicted to social networks. We already said they are full of digital clutter which you cannot throw out. In order to decrease the amount of this type of clutter, you need to keep your consumption of social network under control. This requires ‛just’ some willpower: you need to set some constraints. Make a friend limit for yourself on Facebook and don’t follow too many people on Twitter.
  • Everything has its place – We already said at the beginning how hard it is to part with physical clutter because of our emotional attachment. There is no way in hell we’re going throw them out, but they’re not going in the basement either, where it is moist, bad weather conditions, cats, mice and who knows what else. If there is one word that would describe the perfect place for our beloved belongings, it would be ‛supercheapstorage’. Luckily, it’s not just a word, but also a place. A place where trained professionals can move your things before you notice they’re gone. The best thing is they’re not actually gone forever, but just out of sight in a safe environment where they will not affect your concentration anymore and get you in stressful situations.

Everyone has different tolerance to clutter. Maybe you’re someone who needs a bit of a mess in order to acquire inspiration that will get the work done. The stressful situation comes from the individual’s perception of clutter. So be free to keep the things that don’t bother you. Design your environment in a way that suits you the best.

Victoria Lim is a lifestyle writer and a blogger in constant pursuit of trying something new. She’s in love with life, love and self-love. 


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