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Cleaning Makes You Happier and Calmer

Cleanliness contributes to our mental well-being both indirectly and directly. Here's how.



In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, the cleanliness of our surroundings often takes a backseat to more pressing matters. Yet, emerging research suggests that the state of our environment, specifically its cleanliness, may have a profound impact on our mental well-being. From reducing stress levels to improving concentration, the benefits of maintaining a clean living space extend far beyond mere aesthetics. Clean surroundings actually make us happier and less stressed!


First and Foremost, a Lack of Cleanliness has Negative Health Effects


First, the basics. In addition to directly impacting our mental well-being, living in an unclean environment can have broader health effects, impacting various organ systems and contributing to chronic diseases. Prolonged exposure to indoor allergens and mold, for instance, has been linked to a broad array of health problems, such as cardiovascular diseases and auto-immune disorders.


Exposure to allergens and irritants like dust and dust mites can also cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and nasal congestion. Dealing with these symptoms can lead to chronic stress. In addtion, respiratory problems can also disrupt sleep patterns and impair sleep quality. Sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, and non-restorative sleep, can contribute to mood disturbances, irritability, and cognitive impairments. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.


The Cleaning-Stress Connection


It's clear that a lack of cleanliness can negatively impact our physical health, and thus contribute to problems like depression and anxiety, but there's also the direct link.


A study published in Health Psychology found that women who described their homes as cluttered or unfinished had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who described their homes as restful and restorative (Saxbe et al., 2008). This suggests a direct link between clutter and stress levels, highlighting the importance of maintaining a tidy living environment.


Similarly, research published in Current Psychology revealed that household clutter was positively associated with stress levels and negatively correlated with life satisfaction (Roster et al., 2020). In other words, the more cluttered your home, the higher your stress levels are likely to be.


Studies from the Hospital Environment


Cleanliness is particularly crucial in healthcare settings, where it can have a direct impact on patient outcomes. A review article in HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal highlighted the importance of cleanliness in healthcare design, noting its role in patient satisfaction and anxiety reduction (Ulrich et al., 2008). This underscores the significance of maintaining a clean and hygienic environment not only for aesthetics but also for well-being.


Practical Implications


So, what can we take away from these findings? First and foremost, it's essential to prioritize cleanliness in our daily lives. Whether it's decluttering our living spaces or maintaining good hygiene practices, small changes can have a significant impact on our mental well-being.


Additionally, we should recognize both at home and work the importance of cleanliness in fostering positive experiences. Investing in clean and well-maintained environments can enhance satisfaction and contribute to better overall outcomes in our lives.


In conclusion, the link between cleanliness and mental well-being is clear. By paying attention to the cleanliness of our surroundings, we can create environments that promote health, happiness, and productivity. So, the next time you're tempted to postpone cleaning, remember the profound impact it can have on your mental health.


References:

  • Saxbe, D. E., Repetti, R., & Nishina, A. (2008). Marital satisfaction, recovery from work, and diurnal cortisol among men and women. Health Psychology, 27(1), 15–25.

  • Roster, C. A., Ferrari, J. R., & Jurkat, M. P. (2020). Exploring the role of household clutter in relationships between procrastination, life satisfaction, and stress: A mediation analysis. Current Psychology, 1–13.

  • Yagil, D., & Medler-Liraz, H. (2017). The effect of order and disorder on preference for products and completion time. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 49, 88–98.

  • Dadvand, P., Sunyer, J., Basagana, X., Ballester, F., Lertxundi, A., Fernández-Somoano, A., ... & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2019). Surrounding greenness and exposure to air pollution during pregnancy: An analysis of personal monitoring data. Environmental Health Perspectives, 127(2), 27007.

  • Ulrich, R. S., Zimring, C., Zhu, X., DuBose, J., Seo, H. B., Choi, Y. S., ... & Joseph, A. (2008). A review of the research literature on evidence-based healthcare design. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 1(3), 61–125.

  • Barnes, D. M., & Curran, A. E. (2014). Sleep and quality of life in urban poverty: The effect of slum housing conditions. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 31(3), 136–147.

  • Haggerty, K. P., Skinner, M. L., MacKenzie, E. P., & Catalano, R. F. (2010). A prospective study of mental health and childhood respiratory illness. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 69(1), 17–22.

  • Kessler, R. C., Andrews, G., Colpe, L. J., Hiripi, E., Mroczek, D. K., Normand, S. L., ... & Zaslavsky, A. M. (2002). Short screening scales to monitor population prevalences and trends in non-specific psychological distress. Psychological Medicine, 32(6), 959–976.

  • Kim, J. L., Elfman, L., Mi, Y., Johansson, M., Smedje, G., & Norbäck, D. (2011). Current asthma and respiratory symptoms among pupils in relation to dietary factors and allergens in the school environment. Indoor Air, 21(5), 353–363.

  • Vojdani, A., & Vojdani, E. (2019). Evidence for formation of a protective barrier in the gut by indigenous microbiota and its role in multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 16(1), 1-15.

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