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Understanding the psychology of clutter

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Messy home wrecking havoc on your life?

If you have committed to getting organized at home this year, following through with your resolution may be good for your health and relationships. A tidy house definitely makes it easier to function as a family and welcome unexpected guests, but it can also help ease emotional and psychological stress.

cluttered kitchen

A cluttered house is more than just an eyesore -- it can impact family dynamics and our stress levels. Patricia John, President of Room 2 Room Organizing and Feng Shui Consultant, sheds light on the psychology of clutter.

A functional home

While families usually learn to function in their home, whatever the condition, your household clutter could be preventing you from operating at an optimal level. "A tidy home enables a more energetic, active, positive environment," says John. "On the other hand, a cluttered home breeds just the opposite."

All of those piles of unassuming stuff may seem innocuous, but watching them multiply and take up valuable family space really does weigh on the psyche.

Trickle down home economics

When clutter reaches a certain point, it's not the mess that's really important, but the impact the mess has on the people who live with it. "Children who grow up amidst clutter are often embarrassed to have their friends over and carry messy habits into adulthood," says John. "It can even be a source of anxiety."

Lack of order in a home also impacts mom's relationships with her kids, husband and friends. "Clutter causes resentment because mom feels overwhelmed by it," says John. "She resents the rest of the family for not helping enough and tends to avoid inviting guests over for casual get-togethers."

Take control

The silver lining of a cluttered home is that it can be managed. Take control of the situation and free yourself of emotional and psychological baggage that accompanies the mess. Creating a tidy home can be a family project, as the entire family will truly benefit from an organized environment.

"The first rule for everyone is, always leave a room as you found it...or better!" says John. The freedom you'll experience will spill over into others areas of your life, possibly including your attitude, your friendships and your appearance. A tidy home could motivate you to be happy, social and stylish.

Positive change

John has seen firsthand the impact of a clutter-free home on women. "I've seen women conquer clutter and then feel as if a 50 pound weight was lifted from their shoulders," she says. "Many women think more clearly and are more confident, which helps them function better as a Mom."

More on getting organized

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