Cleaning, organizing and sprucing up your home may not sound like your idea of a fun way to kick off spring, but aside from making your home look and feel shiny and new, “spring cleaning” happens to offer a handful of important health benefits.
Two of the most significant benefits: decreased stress levels and improved mental health.
According to Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, mental health expert and author of Your Next Big Thing, a recent study from UCLA found that just looking at clutter elevated women's stress hormones.
“De-cluttering your house and de-cluttering your mind are actually very similar,” Michaelis explained. “You tend to feel better when you are living in a clean space. You also feel a lightness when you can let go of behavioral patterns from your past which don't fit you anymore.”
He said this is why he often encourages his patients to first do a “mental spring cleaning evaluation” so they can make sure they haven’t accumulated habits, behaviors or people in their lives that aren’t good for them.
“Once you do a mental spring cleaning, you will almost certainly find that you have more time and energy for doing the things that bring you joy,” he said.
If you find that de-cluttering your mind comes as a challenge, it might be a good idea to first de-clutter and organize your home.
“Piles of clutter, projects left undone and overstuffed closets are overwhelming,” said Sharon Martin is a California-based licensed psychotherapist who helps adults and adolescents manage stress in order to build peaceful, balanced lives.
“They are constant reminders of our bad habits and everything we feel we ‘should’ be doing. Investing even a small amount of time in spring cleaning can promote a peaceful, calm living space. We get a sense of accomplishment by cleaning out the closets, donating, recycling and organizing. Our brains can calm down and relax in a space that reflects calm and safety.”
Plus, in addition to helping you de-stress, here are just a few more ways that spring cleaning can seriously improve your health.
Future Cleaning is Easier
“Living in an uncluttered space makes it easier to clean, and makes the space more likely to be cleaned thoroughly, reducing dust and allergens from the air,” said Ginny Underwood, a professional organizer and time management consultant.
Alison Kero, professional organizer and owner of ACK! Organizing, adds, “Not only does clutter cause dirt and dust to accumulate but it also prevents you from thoroughly cleaning anything. Not only can dirt and dust accumulate, but I've also seen mold and bug infestations occur due to clutter.”
You’ll Save Time and Avoid Anger
“Having to stop and search for something is agitating. Your blood pressure rises, you're quicker to snap at your partner or roommate, your entire mood can change,” said Emilee Schumer, an editor at Design District, Dot & Bo's lifestyle blog. “But when you've properly organized your space, you spare yourself the pain. Give your closet a good purge, clean out your desk drawers, and reorganize your pantry and kitchen cabinets. Make it easy to find that black cardigan or the scissors, and you'll save time and negative energy.”
You Might Use Your Kitchen More
“When you de-clutter your kitchen, you only have kitchen utensils and appliances that you use and like,” Kero said. “You can find everything easily and most importantly, it's easy to put everything away because you've chosen to give everything you own a designated home. Suddenly you might feel like cooking more often. Or you're choosing to buy healthier food options because you are choosing joy and self-love.”
Eating Healthier Becomes a Little Easier
Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian and the lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating, suggests organizing the food in your kitchen as well. “Research shows that those who have fruit bowls on display consistently eat more fruit than those who do not,” she said.
Additionally, she recommends organizing your refrigerator and storing healthy foods in clear containers. “In an effort to eat healthier, many of us stock up on fruits and vegetables,” Ficek explained. “But if we can't see them once we get home, it is likely they will go to waste.”
She suggests storing chopped fruits and veggies in clear plastic containers so you can find them easily in the fridge and so they look more appetizing.
Ficek also said you should extend your organizational project to pantries and cabinets, stocking the healthiest foods in plain-sight and on eye-level shelves.