Declutter your house. Declutter your mind.

Declutter your house. Declutter your mind.

“Does this spark joy?”

It’s what many Americans are asking themselves in an attempt to declutter their homes, thanks to organization expert Marie Kondo’s popular Netflix series, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

But does all that decluttering keep our minds content, too?

“When stuff piles up, we know that people often report feeling suffocated and panicked. This isn’t just a facade,”  says Dr. Maheela Ahsan, a psychiatrist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “We know that high levels of clutter and attachment to things can physically trigger stress and anxiety, affecting people’s sense of safety and security.”

Put simply, physical clutter can lead to mental clutter.

Even on the big screen, it’s been found that when backgrounds of television scenes are highly cluttered, viewers had more difficulty interpreting the characters’ emotional expressions, according to Cornell University.

And sometimes clutter can get serious. You may have seen addicting reality shows featuring “hoarders,” but the condition is far from dramatized when it comes to the mental consequences victims experience. According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding is an actual disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Those who suffer from it have high levels of anxiety and mental anguish when it comes to discarding possessions compulsively collected over time.

On her show, Kondo suggests organizing items by category instead of by room, and only keeping things that bring a sense of joy. The rest? Toss or donate. Many families she’s helped report feeling overwhelmingly more satisfied, calm and happy.

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One Comment

  1. I have a problem with this, and I’m embarrassed to have any company at my home.
    I’ve seen “Hoarders” show. I’ve contemplated seeking help with this because I’m sure I can’t transform the place on my own. Don’t know where to start.
    Suggestions anyone? Would employee assistance program refer me to someone? Or should it be through my primary care provider?

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About the Author

Katie Wilkes
Katie Wilkes

Katie Wilkes, health enews contributor, is a freelance public affairs specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. A DePaul University alum, she brings a decade of experience in media relations and content development to her role. Katie is also the co-founder and Emmy-nominated producer at Freeheart Creative, dedicated to sharing stories of brave women around the world. In her spare time, you can find her zen-ing out at a yoga studio and chilling with her 14-year old West Highland Terrier.