Millions of Americans are clinically depressed – more than ever. They turn to drugs, alcohol, and too often, dangerous activities, to cope with their depression. Many times, I recommend seeing a therapist. But the cause of depression may be right in front of you every day. Social scientists have found a significant link to depression for millions of us.
Yes, a link has been found between clutter and depression. Specifically, there is a link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress. For men, the link of messiness to depression is less clear.
Women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel. But the problem stretches beyond the kitchen. For example, think about kids’ toys.
Although U.S. consumers bear only three percent of the world’s children, we buy 40 percent of the world’s toys. And these toys live in every room, fighting for display space with kids’ trophies, artwork, and snapshots of their last soccer game.
To avoid depression, you need to limit clutter.
Adopt the Rule of Five.
Every time you get up from your desk or walk through a room, put away five things. Or, each hour, devote five minutes to de-cluttering. At the end of the day, you’ve cleaned for an hour.
Be ruthless about your kitchen sink.
Pledge to clear and clean your kitchen sink every day. It takes a couple of seconds more to place a dish in the dishwasher than dump it in the sink. A clean sink will instantly raise your spirits and decrease your anxiety.
Put photos away.
Return to yesteryear when only photos of ancestors or weddings earned a place. Put snapshots in a family album, which will immediately de-clutter many flat surfaces.
Unburden your refrigerator.
Researchers found a correlation between the number of items stuck to the fridge door and the amount of clutter throughout the house. Toss extra magnets, file restaurant menus, and place calendars in less conspicuous places.
About the Author
Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer who contributes to real estate and home improvement sites. In her spare time, she gardens, manages three dogs, and plots to get her 21-year-old out of her basement.