Clutter causes negative health issues.

clutter is bad for our health and shown here is are post it notes on this lady's face indicating all the clutter in her mind

Clutter causes negative health issues because our human brains likes order. What clutter in your home can do to your health is an article I wrote to point out that clutter is not only a physical and aesthetic nuisance it can also be a health risk.

I can’t concentrate in a disorganized cluttered space. Clutter problems, messy rooms, too much stuff, piles of paper, would have a big negative impact on me because I need to have order or I cannot focus.

Clutter causes negative health issues in our work space

My art studio where I melt glass, play with fibers to create art, and other mediums is a visual explosion. This is the place where I create. When you come into my art studio a riot of color greets you! This is not clutter.

This space is well organized. If it wasn’t I would never be able to concentrate on executing a good design idea and I would waste oodles of time looking for things!

​Clutter causes negative health issues in our living space

My home environment comprises the 2 floors above my first floor art studio. The contrast is stark. My physical space in my home is sparse of stuff because I choose to live in a clutter-free environment.

Relaxing would be impossible for me in a cluttered home, as would focusing. If I lived in a messy home I would be constantly distracted and my level of cortisol would be off the charts.

Have 17 spatulas of varying sizes and styles never made sense to me. 1 spatula works well for me. I have 2 things on my counter – a coffee maker and a coffee bean grinder. No clutter problem.

I realize the fact that my tendency to live a minimalistic lifestyle is not a popular opinion, at least among my friends. I am told, it is not common to actually have empty closet shelves in the home I have lived in for 28 years.

Clutter causes negative health issues

A cluttered visual environment affects more than you would think. Disorganized messy environments can lead to mental health issues, relationship issues, lack of social life, financial stress, higher stress levels, high cortisol levels and the list goes on

Health issues


Tidy homes have been found to be a predictor of good physical health. Participants whose houses are cleaner are more active and have better physical health. Think about this – the more stuff you have the more dust you have. This means it takes longer and requires more effort to move stuff around to clean.

This was actually my first realization and desire to live minimally. I learned the first time I had to clean my first home by myself that having different collections of things would mean I would constantly have to be moving them to clean in addition to keeping the stuff itself clean.

That was the end of keeping decorative stuff around for me. I made a decision to use my time to have fun, not cleaning.

Disorganization and clutter causes negative health issues

Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus and reduce our working memories.

Working memory is one of the most widely used terms in psychology and refers to the small amount of information that can be held in the mind while we are executing cognitive tasks. In other words it’s hard to focus with a lot of noise and constant disruption going on! I view clutter as a loud disruptive noise.

You can learn more about about your working memory at The National Library of Medicine.

Clutter can cause negative health issues and procrastination

Loss of productivity, financial issues and poor health including obesity are linked to procrastination and cluttered spaces. Seldom do we get excited and dig in to a task we don’t want to do, hence procrastination.

I happen to love order and am just wired to live this way. Because I am involved in so many things it is simply efficient to tidy up for the next time after each thing I am doing.

Sometimes I am making art and other times writing. Then there is the unavoidable time spent in the kitchen, laundry and outdoor maintenance. By taking a couple minutes after each job to tidy up I am greeted with a clean space the next time I show up. 

Get rid of

I’d say people are catching on to this clutter free lifestyle because one of the largest collectors of our donations is St Vincent De Paul. There has been a huge uptake in the number of the donations people are giving. I can only surmise this is because we are getting rid of stuff that no longer serves us.  

People are beginning to understand the correlation between clutter and negative health issues. We are choosing to live healthier and more productive lifestyles. Another thing, less clutter allows us to do more in less time!

scattered 100 dollar bills are lost due to too much clutter and inefficieny

Financial stress

Has your mind ever been so cluttered you forgot to pay your mortgage, rent or credit card bill on time? No doubt you were charged a late payment fee. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, DC issued a report March 29, 2022 that states credit card issuers charged $12 billion in late fees in 2020. Physical clutter and mental clutter are related. Ready to clean up the clutter for better financial health?

Hoarding is a mental health issue


Buying more and more things and hoarding them all and never parting with anything is an actual disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association. Those with hoarding disorders compulsively acquire possessions on an ongoing basis and experience anxiety and mental anguish when they are discarded.

Numerous studies have been done about the correlation of lots of clutter and our health. I read about a study at Yale University using fMRI. This showed that for people that are hoarders, getting rid of their things can cause real pain in regions of the brain associated with physical pain.

The same parts of the brain responsible for the pain one feels when one slams a finger in a door or burns a hand on the stove become activated for folks with hoarding tendencies. 

These extreme situations are very real and extremely harmful. The good news is there are medical doctors and trained professionals to aid in the recovery of these individuals. I hope a person would not feel shame to seek help for this very real malady. Hoarding is another medical health issue and doesn’t deserve any attached stigma.

an organized clothes closet is good for a healthy mind

How to maintain a clutter free lifestyle

There is a lot written about the subject of cluttered spaces, how to declutter, decluttering tips and how to organize etc. I know physical clutter goes hand in hand with mental clutter.

Getting to the roots of our clutter is necessary if you want to break the clutter cycle. You will never be able to maintain an uncluttered space unless you learn why you accumulate clutter and how to change this.

If I need to make changes in my life I look to the root of the problem. I know if I address whatever is causing me to do or not do a thing I have a chance to change my behavior. Same goes for living in a cluttered mess.  

Why are you living amongst clutter? Answering this question is half the battle. The other half is changing whatever you decided is the root of your problem. Cleaning up the clutter is one thing. Maintaining a clutter free lifestyle is another.

Clutter causes negative health issues and changing habits can fix this

Habits can be changed. It is a lot easier to change a habit that no longer, if ever, serves you than living with the ugly habit. In my life I have changed many negative habits. It takes a commitment and vigilance to stay on the path.

clutter and poor health can be changed by repacing bad habits with good habits

Here is an article about how to replace bad habits with healthy habits

Clutter vs Organized

I mentioned my studio is a light filled room bursting with color and cool art displayed. This is where I create. The only mess in my studio is when I am actually creating. I start with a clean work space, I end with a tidy workspace and while I am working the area can be messy. I deliberately try to not be neat when engaged in a creative project because it feels like this could be a barrier to creativity. 

Spend a few minutes to save a lot of time

At the end of my work day, on a daily basis, I spend a few minutes leaving my space clean. I am naturally wired this way so I don’t even think about. It seems to take no time. I just move from one thing to another throughout my day and in between I automatically clean the space I am leaving in prep for the next time I am here.

I always have unfinished projects organized and ready to pick up right where I left off. This really reduces my anxiety level because I know everything I need is exactly where I left it, This also brings me little sparks of joy because I know I will never have to tackle big cleaning projects! It’s a quality of life thing, to feel somewhat ‘caught up’, do you know what I mean?

pen in hand writing in a journal, write your way to good health

You want me to what!?

For many many years I have helped people get unstuck and back on track. When someone comes to me upset because they are in a mess I tell them to journal. They look at me is as if I have ten heads. I then explain if they keep doing the same old thing they will keep getting the same old results.

There is help

Whether one is dealing with a physically cluttered space or mentally cluttered spaces we always start at the same place. This place is quiet, private and comfortable, and the tools we use is pen and paper or keyboard. Writing or journaling is the best tool to use to find out why you are where you are and not where you want to be. 

We each have our own unique stories that lead to the same universal icky feelings. One need not be a writer to journal in a free form style which is what I am referring to. For instance in stream of consciousness writing there is no need to check for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.

What we write is for our eyes only. It is an excavation of where we really are, our truths, and where we want to go. If you are drowning in a sea of mental clutter or your physical environment is not the way you prefer I urge you to write. Don’t know what to write? Head over and grab my free week of writing prompts and get started! Don’t want to do that? Ask yourself this question. ‘If I were not afraid what would I do today?’ Write the answer to that.

Writing can be quick

People think writing takes a big chunk of time that they don’t have.. For years I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier to allot time for me to write 3 lined pages in my spiral notebook. Why? Because it was and is important to me. Stream of consciousness writing, otherwise known as journaling, is fast. The pen can hardly keep up with my thoughts spewing onto the page when I write. 

What I would write each morning flowed in and out of my mind during the day. The next day I would have more insights to write. Pretty soon I had a road map to navigate!

a roadmap will show you how to reduce clutter for optimal health

This became my most important task of the day because it taught me the way to become the person I wanted to be. I was told long ago, without a map I would never get to where I wanted to go.

Writing will show you the way


I have coached people starting new businesses, getting rid of nasty habits, basically getting rid of in life what is no longer useful and serving them well. With all that stuff gone it is then time to set healthy habits and goals. The achievements have been no less than miraculous especially when factoring in where some are coming from.

As I mature I see much clearer the positive effects and importance of mental well being. I would say most days my mental well-being is pretty good. I reject an overabundance of most things. Although I would really love a third, fourth and fifth puppy!

Marj pic

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutterer and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

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