Get Organized: How decluttering at home can improve your life

Just thinking about folding piles of laundry or cleaning out a cluttered closet can feel exhausting, but disorganization at home can really mess with your health. Clearing away the clutter and getting organized at home can make you happier, help you make healthier choices, get a better night’s sleep, improve your relationships, and even boost your drive to exercise and lose weight.

You’ll be less stressed or likely to be depressed when you feel organized at home.

In a University of California–Los Angeles study,  published in 2009, women who characterized their homes “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more depressed, fatigued, and reported higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.”

Researchers tell us this is because a messy home can prevent a natural decline in cortisol that should occur during the course of the day. Blood levels of cortisol vary dramatically, but generally are higher in the morning when we wake up, and then fall throughout the day. This is called a diurnal rhythm.

Taking the time for tasks such as sorting through all those receipts or organizing your closet, won’t just clear away physical clutter. Researchers from UCLA say it can actually help you feel happier, and lower your cortisol levels too.

It can help you make healthier food choices and even lose weight.

Messy spaces can trigger unhealthy stress eating, which most of us want to try and avoid. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found people who worked in a neat space for 10 minutes were twice as likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar than those who worked in a messy office for the same amount of time.

Cluttered and chaotic environments can cause stress, which can lead us to gravitate towards more unhealthy snacks–such as eating twice as many cookies, according to another study published in February earlier this year. The study showed that cluttered kitchens encourage eating more empty calories. When stressed out females were asked to wait for another person in a messy kitchen — with newspapers on the table, dishes in the sink, and the phone ringing – they ate twice as many cookies compared to women in the same kitchen when it was organized and the phone wasn’t ringing.

When you’re physically organized, you have more time to plan your meals, stock up on nutritious foods, and prep things like fruits and vegetables to make healthy eating easier day to day.

Staying organized can help you stay fit and make you want to workout.

Research has found people who are organized tend to be better about sticking to an exercise regimen. People who set short-term goals, have a set plan, and record their progress are more likely to stick with an exercise program than those who show up without a plan, found a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Obesity.

Researchers say that using organization skills such as writing down a to do list of various workout circuits or training regimens and checking it off makes you more consciously aware of your progress, which motivates you to keep going especially when you don’t feel like it. Each week, try writing out your exercise plan and then note what you do on each day. Having a goal and game plan to reach the goal can be very motivating and satisfying once accomplished

Making your bed in the morning may mean better sleep at night.

Research shows the less stressed out you are, the better sleep you tend to get. Sleep and mood are deeply intertwined. For example poor or inadequate sleep can trigger irritability and stress, while healthy sleep can actually enhance well-being.

People who make their beds every morning are 19% more likely to report regularly getting a good night’s’ rest, and 75% of people said they got a better night’s sleep when their sheets were fresh and clean because they were physically more comfortable, according to a 2010 survey by the National Sleep Foundation. A more organized life can help you make your bedroom a sanctuary for rest and not chaos.

A more organized home front can mean better relationships.

Happy relationships with your partner and friends are key to warding off depression and disease according to a hefty number of studies, but a disorganized life can take a toll on these social ties.

For couples, disorganization can create tension and conflict. The time spent looking for and shouting over a lost receipt can take away from time you could be spending together cuddling on the couch.

As well, clutter can lead to shame and embarrassment that stunts relationships emotionally and physically. A messy house may prevent you from inviting the boys over to watch a game or cooking a romantic meal for your significant other, whereas being more organized at home enables you to spend more time with loved ones and foster stronger relationships. It’s inexpensive and it requires no special equipment- just some extra time and effort.

Remember that staying organized is maintenance.

Personally, I am guilty of hoarding all things bath and beauty products. I tend to snag all the travel sized soaps from hotels and samples from stores that I can get my hands on. The cosmetic clutter really stresses out my partner, so I make a point of going through, tossing out, and organizing items in my bathroom cabinet monthly so he’s able to find the nail clipper or cue tips without it feeling like a game of I-Spy. I find it helpful to write a list of things I want to organize in my apartment and keep it in a spot I see daily so that whenever I have time, I can chip away at things like tossing out dry-cleaning hangers and plastic wrap that pile up in the closet . I’ve started in a few spaces and it feels really good to be getting rid of clutter.

Make your list today.

Have you written a “to-organize” list for your home? If not- grab a pen and get the ball rolling. Chances are, you’ll feel happier and healthier afterwards.

Happy home organizing!