• Sarah Soboleski

How Mess Affects Your Stress Level



I don't know many people who don't have some degree of stress in their life. After all, there are good and bad stressors. But when we're talking about clutter and disorganization, these seem to fall under the negative stress category. When I think of managing stress, I think of remaining calm, cool and collected. Here's a look at how disorganization robs us of effectively managing our stress and what to do about it.  


It's hard to remain calm when your physical environment is in an upheaval. In a sense, it's as if the mess is causing conflict. You think, I know I should tidy up, but I don't have time. Where would I begin? I can't decide what to do. In the end, nothing gets done and you end up feeling worse about your predicament. And if you live with someone who is on the tidy side, conflict is bound to rear its ugly head. Ultimately what has to happen is that there needs to be a spark of motivation; you have to want to get organized. Becoming aware that clutter is often just a manifestation of your stress level can lead to a light bulb going on that something needs to change. 


Clutter attracts clutter.  Calm attracts calm.

Courtney Carver


It's hard to remain cool when the clutter is causing your brain to meltdown. When you are trying to remember details of your next appointment, where your pocketbook is, what time you have to pick up the kids and the item you need to get at the grocery store, your stress level automatically rises. There's nothing left in your brain reserve to think about happy, enjoyable things. To overcome this, you need to start making small changes.Some folks call this the Swiss cheese effect; poking small holes in a too large project.  Start with something small like organizing a drawer or a cabinet or trimming your to-do list to only 3 items. The saying goes, little by little, a little can become a lot.  


Clear up the clutter.  It diverts your attention, hampers your thinking, dilutes your efforts and hinders your progress.

Merrill Douglass


It's hard to remain collected when you're drained of energy. Disorganization robs you of precious motivation, instead breeding procrastination both in decisions and actions. How to combat this is by visualizing the big picture. Ask yourself if your surroundings are helping you succeed or bringing you down. Attempt to make decisions in the moment, rather than putting them off. Start asking yourself: Do I use this? Do I love it? Do I have space for it? Does it support my future self?


Clutter is not just physical stuff.  It's old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits.  Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.  

Eleanor Brown


Getting organized will not only reduce your stress, it can improve your physical surroundings, strengthen relationships, make you more efficient in your day to day functioning, save you time and improve your quality of life in general. And who doesn't want all that?! How do you think you could stay calm, cool and collected the next time you feel your stress level rising?