Have you ever cleaned a room and experienced an immense sense of relief almost immediately? Research shows that clutter and dirt can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety. But it’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey too. Yes, having an organised and clean living environment is conducive to peace of mind, but the actual act of cleaning can reduce stress as well.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve listed just a few of the ways cleaning can reduce your stress levels.
Relief from clutter
Living in a cluttered environment can be stressful. Having to negotiate your way around laundry, personal possessions, furniture and rubbish isn’t exactly conducive to relaxation. Whether you know it or not, there’s a good chance that living in such an environment is having a detrimental effect on your stress levels. This is why a lot of employers implement a “clear desk” policy. Clutter gets in the way of calm, reasoned thought.
Cleaning promotes mindfulness
The acts of vacuuming, scrubbing, polishing and wiping are all performed in order to remove dirt, grease or dust. There’s a very clear goal involved in each of these tasks, which means we’re usually living in the moment as we do them. Mindfulness makes us live in the here and now — so we’re not worrying about things that may or may not happen in the future. The next time you feel your stress levels rising, start a major cleaning job, and give it your all.
Cleaning is exercise… and exercise reduces stress
The links between regular exercise and reduced stress are well documented. Working up a sweat releases positive, mood-boosting chemicals that reduce stress and make us feel better about ourselves. And as household cleaning burns between 100 and 300 calories per hour, it’s great way to unwind after a stressful day at work.
Cleaning saves money
Cleaning your home in certain ways can actually save you money. Keeping furniture, gadgets and everyday items clean often prolongs their life. Switching to homemade cleaning agents means you don’t need to buy expensive commercial alternatives. Cleaning your kitchen means you’re always ready to cook or entertain. All of these tasks can save you money. If bills and the cost of living are a source of your stress, decluttering and cleaning can go some way to making you more relaxed.
Music increases the effect
So, we now know that cleaning can have a positive effect on stress levels. But you can increase the effect by introducing a little music to your cleaning sessions. Research tells us that music — in the right context and setting — can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety. The next time you find yourself dreading a spring clean, look at the task at hand in terms of treatment for your stress. Play the music you love, and get cleaning!
Cleaning is most effective when it’s part of a routine
Some people become stressed and anxious if their daily routines are broken or disrupted. But cleaning is a great way of introducing routine into your life. Create a schedule of tasks, and try to stick to it. Clean at the same times every day, or reschedule as soon as you can. You’ll get a sense of satisfaction at having completed the job, and your home will never descend into stress-inducing chaos.
Research backs up the claim that cleaning reduces stress
Research by a leading home and garden specialist revealed that 60 percent of respondents claim they feel calmer and less stress when they have a clean and tidy home. More than half of us now clean to “burn off” negative feelings, thoughts and energy. Among the most popular stress-relieving tasks were laundry, vacuuming and dusting. However, top of the lost was washing dishes.
Cleaning is a great way of distracting a busy mind, staying in the moment and blowing away the cobwebs. If you’re alone, you can take the time to process your thoughts. And if you’re cleaning with someone else, you can reap the benefits of companionship and teamwork. So the next time you feel your stress levels starting to rise, get cleaning!