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Does Cleaning When Anxious
Really Help Reduce Anxiety?

Blog Title Shape
April 4, 2019

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If you’ve watched the popular Marie Kondo show, then you know there is a growing trend around how cleaning your house can clear your mind. The concept is not new, and many studies and surveys we’ll discuss in this article have been conducted to find out how house cleaning can help with depression and anxiety. The research shows a number of links between cleaning when anxious and reduced anxiety. So does a clean house relieve anxiety or is it the cleaning itself? Or could it be an untidy and dirty environment causes anxiety? Since this is a cleaning blog, we’ll skip the psychology and just tell you there is a valid connection between house cleaning and anxiety that’s worth a look.

Cleaning and Anxiety — The KonMari Method™ Might Be On to Something

People around the world have been drawn to Kondo’s philosophy not only because of its effectiveness but also because it promotes being mindful, introspective and forward-thinking. Mindfulness, too, has been a trending concept for a while and The KonMari Method™, for cleaning and organization, goes hand in hand with being mindful. Kondo’s take on cleaning when anxious and its benefits focus on decluttering your surroundings to declutter your mind.

So does Kondo’s method work? This trend has a large following and many fans of the method report feeling better about their surroundings and themselves. To find out why cleaning when anxious can help relieve anxiety, keep reading.

How Do You Feel When Your Home is Dirty?

If you feel better when your home is sparkling clean rather than when it looks like a pigpen, you probably don’t need anyone to explain the reasons — you just do! And if a house that looks like a tornado hit it doesn’t even get an eyebrow lift out of you, by all means, stop reading now! But if you are anxious, either about your dirty house or something else, there is some interesting evidence for the link between cleaning house and decreased anxiety and depression.

A cleaning company in the U.K., Dr. Beckmann, conducted a study recently about this subject and the results are pretty compelling.

  • 90% of the Brits surveyed said a messy house makes them feel unproductive and even unhappy.
  • 54% said they had canceled plans because of a dirty house.
  • Seven in 10 Brits ‘frequently’ argue with other occupants about household chores. More than 50% of those who argued said the kitchen is the most volatile room!

This is only one survey, but the numbers don’t seem far-fetched. Most of us would probably answer similarly if we took the survey.

The survey results also reveal how the physical act of cleaning can provide mental health benefits in the form of endorphins released by working up a sweat. Individual cleaning tasks such as vacuuming, ironing and gardening can burn between 150 and 300 calories. So if you’re looking to do a big cleaning in one day, you could be burning an impressive number of calories! Research has clearly shown more endorphins mean less anxiety, so that could explain much of the connection between house cleaning and anxiety.

But is There Any Proof Cleaning and Anxiety are Connected?

It turns out there are research results that support much of the results with the survey above. For example, a Cornell University study found that people living in messy, chaotic environments consume more junk food. We all know how we feel when we eat too much junk food… It should be easy to see how eating a whole bag of chips or cookies could lead to feeling anxious.

Another study by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute discovered that in disorganized spaces people are more stressed, distracted and less productive. It makes sense that the benefits of an uncluttered environment would lead to reduced feelings of anxiety. If a clean house, or the act of cleaning itself, reduces stress and increases feelings of productivity, then those things should help decrease levels of anxiety.

Regardless of why cleaning when anxious calms you down, there doesn’t seem to be any downside. If cleaning house eases anxiety, let’s you get in some exercise and you end up with a cleaner and better-organized environment, then count us in!

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