With the weather getting nicer, it’s a good time to consider giving your house a thorough cleaning. This may be the last thing you feel like doing, especially if you’re feeling depressed or preoccupied with other things. In fact, studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between feeling depressed and having a messy living space. This is most likely because depression makes it hard to do even the most essential activities of life, and for many people, cleaning doesn’t even approach the category of “essential.” However, if you can manage it, there are several reasons cleaning your house will make you feel better.
Clutter creates stress.
Clutter typically accumulates gradually and so you might not even notice that it increases stress. Clutter is oppressive and even if you don’t consciously think about it, you are always subconsciously aware of it. What’s more, it creates friction in your daily life. Every time you have to step over something on the way to the bathroom, dig through a pile of laundry to find something to wear, or clear a space on the table to sit down and eat, you are mildly inconvenienced. None of these alone is especially stressful, but cumulatively they create friction and irritation. Throwing away garbage, putting away things you’re not using, and getting everything off the floor make your day go more smoothly.
Dirt is unhealthy.
There’s a broad spectrum of dirtiness. Hoarders, for example, often live in filthy conditions with lots of animals, bugs, and rotting food. Most people’s houses aren’t that messy, but even moderately messy homes can breed bacteria and mold, and trap allergens, all of which make you feel bad. Strep bacteria can grow in your toilet and shower and make you sick. Giving everything a good cleaning reduces your exposure to microbes and allergens. If you can, open up the doors and windows and let in some fresh air, which has more oxygen and less pollution than stale indoor air.
Cleaning is exercise.
We don’t typically think of cleaning as exercise, but it is. You move constantly for however long you’re cleaning and use a variety of movements–squatting, reaching, twisting, scrubbing, and so on. If you are feeling depressed, it may be the kind of moderate exercise that’s just manageable. If you already exercise regularly, think of cleaning as bonus exercise.
Cleaning can give you a sense of achievement.
It may sound silly, but cleaning can give you a sense of achievement. Often, when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, the reasons include feelings of learned helplessness, or the belief that no matter what you do, nothing gets better. Cleaning a simple way to fight that feeling because you make immediate improvements in your environment through your own effort. Cleaning your room won’t change your life, but it’s not a bad place to start.
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