Why Clutter Is Some Peoples Anxiety And Others Not So Much

I am a Type A personality and if my home and work spaces are not free of clutter I would be less productive, more stressed out and the clutter would most certainly have a negative impact to my mental health. Even as a recovering perfectionist I need to have my environment neat and tidy. I suppose this fills me with a sense of order and control. 

Type A personality 

Officially the phrase Type A personality refers to a pattern of behavior and personality associated with high achievement, competitiveness, and impatience, among other characteristics. Because of tendencies to engage in urgent and achievement-oriented behavior, people with a Type A personality may feel more stressed or develop stress-related disorders. 

Type B personality

Type B personalities can be generally summarized as; easy going, relaxed and highly-flexible. Generally taking a much more carefree approach and wider philosophical view of themselves, work/life balance and other traits which make them less stressed and more widely appreciated when compared to Type A personalities.

Type B personalities may be more cognizant of mental wellness and Inner peace may be more important to them.

Why clutter causes anxiety for some, but not others

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by clutter in your physical space? Does this impact your stress level? Does the sight of a messy room or disorganized desk, medicine cabinet, bathroom cupboards or any room of your home, for example, make you anxious? If so, you’re not alone. For some people, clutter can be a major source of anxiety and stress.

Why is this the case? And why do some people seem to be unaffected by clutter while others can’t stand it?

Studies show

Some analyst’s studies conclude that Type B personalities have a heightened sense of creativity. I gave this a lot of thought because I couldn’t  make sense of this. The reason this description of Type A & B personalities conflicted in my head is because I am a life long self supporting artist.

I would like to think the reason I have made a decent living making and sell my creative art all these years is because I am creative. 

Work around!

Finally it dawned on me! I have always allowed my work benches to be messy while I am working on whatever creative project is in front of me! I intuitively knew if I cared more about the messiness than the task at hand my creative thoughts and by extension finished artwork would be diminished.

Of course at the end of my work session when I stop creating, I clean the space and return tools and supplies to their proper places. Cleaning up on a daily basis means I spend less time overall on home maintenance!


I remember one little girl in particular from an art class I taught. She was so terribly upset because she made what she perceived as a terrible ‘mistake’ on the project she was working on. She told me her mom would be very disappointed. My heart broke a little that day.


Research suggests that there may be a link between clutter and anxiety. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that people with cluttered homes were more likely to experience feelings of stress and depression.

On the other hand, those with clean and organized homes tended to feel more relaxed and comfortable allowing for negative impact on their mental health.

But why?

But why does clutter affect some people more than others? It’s possible that some individuals are simply more sensitive to their environment and more prone to feeling overwhelmed by clutter.

Past experiences and personal preferences may also play a role in how clutter affects us. Understanding why clutter affects you the way it does can help you take steps to manage it and create a more comfortable environment in your living space for you and your family members.

Understanding clutter

Definition of clutter

Clutter is defined as a collection of things lying around in an untidy manner. It can be anything from piles of clothes, books, sentimental items, papers, and other items that are not organized and take up space.

Clutter can be found in homes, offices, and other places where people spend their time. It is important to note that clutter is subjective, and what one person considers clutter might not be the same for another person.

Psychological impact of clutter

Clutter can have a psychological impact on us. For some people, clutter can lead to anxiety, stress, and a feeling of being overwhelmed. This is because clutter can create a sense of chaos and disorder, raise stress levels and make it difficult to focus and concentrate on tasks. It can also make it challenging to find things and create a feeling of being disorganized.

Clutter is subjective

On the other hand, some people are not affected by clutter and can function well in a messy environment. This is because clutter does not have the same psychological impact on them as it does on others. They might find comfort in the chaos and feel more creative and inspired in a cluttered space.

Understanding clutter and its psychological impact is crucial in managing it effectively.

Anxiety and clutter

How clutter triggers anxiety

For some people, clutter can be a major source of anxiety. When you are surrounded by clutter, it can feel overwhelming and stressful. Clutter can make it difficult to focus on tasks, and it can make you feel like you are constantly behind on everything. In some cases, clutter can even trigger panic attacks.

Chaos and disorder

One way that clutter can trigger anxiety is by creating a sense of chaos and disorder. When your entire house is cluttered and lacking in home organization systems it can be difficult to find what you need, and this can make you feel like you are not in control.

This lack of control can be very distressing for some people, and it can lead to feelings of anxiety and even depression.

Your past enters into the equation

Another way that clutter can trigger anxiety is by reminding you of past failures. When you see clutter, you may be reminded of times when you were not able to keep your space clean and organized. This can lead to feelings of shame and self-doubt, which can exacerbate anxiety. 

There are other reason too the past my effect your current feelings. For example, perhaps when your walk in to your messy closet you are reminded of an overspending habit?

Individual differences in anxiety responses

It is important to note that not everyone responds to clutter in the same way. Some people are able to tolerate clutter without feeling anxious, while others are very sensitive to it. There are a number of factors that can influence how you respond to clutter, including your personality, your upbringing, and your current life circumstances.

Did you grow up in a cluttered or clutter free home?

For example, if you grew up in a cluttered home, you may be more tolerant of clutter as an adult. On the other hand, if you grew up in a very clean and organized home, you may be more sensitive to clutter.

Similarly, if you are going through a particularly stressful time in your life, clutter may be more likely to trigger anxiety.

I grew up in a ridiculously clean and organized home. I joke that all my possessions were arranged in alphabetical order by my mom.

How does clutter affect you?

Overall, it is important to be aware of how clutter affects you personally. If you find that clutter is causing you significant distress, it may be that the best thing to do is to take steps to declutter your space.

This could include setting aside time each day to tidy up, enlisting the help of a friend or family member, or even hiring a professional organizer. By taking control of your environment, you may be able to reduce your anxiety and feel more at ease in your space.

Why Some People Don’t Mind Clutter

The Comfort of Clutter

For some people, clutter can be comforting. It can make your space feel lived-in and cozy. Having items out in the open can make you feel like you have everything you need at your fingertips. You may feel more at ease in a space that feels lived-in and not too sterile.

Different Perceptions of Clutter

Everyone has different perceptions of what constitutes clutter. Some people may feel overwhelmed by even a few items out of place, while others may not even notice until there is a significant amount of clutter.

It’s important to recognize that everyone has different preferences and comfort levels when it comes to clutter. This is why it can be challenging for types A & B personalities to share home and work spaces.

Visual overload

People who don’t mind clutter may have a higher tolerance for visual stimuli. They may be able to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by the clutter in their environment. They may also have a more relaxed attitude towards organization and may not feel the need to have all their household items in their right places at all times.

Find what works for you

Not everyone is bothered by clutter. Some people find it comforting and may have different perceptions of what constitutes clutter. It’s important to recognize and respect individual preferences and comfort levels when it comes to clutter. What is your personal story?

Tips to manage clutter-related anxiety

If you struggle with clutter-related anxiety, the good news is there are several decluttering tips you can use for the best way to manage it. Here are some techniques you can try if you have too much stuff 

Organizational techniques

One way to manage clutter-related anxiety is to focus on organizing your space. This can involve decluttering your home, creating a designated space for each item, placing similar items together and setting up a system for maintaining organization. Some specific tips:

Start small

The easiest way is to start small: Break down the task of organizing your space into smaller, more manageable steps.

Use storage solutions

Invest in storage solutions like shelves, baskets, and containers to help keep items organized and easy to find.

Create a system

Develop a system for maintaining organization, such as putting items away immediately after using them or doing a quick tidy-up each day.


Another way to manage clutter-related anxiety is to practice mindfulness. This involves being present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Here are some ways to practice mindfulness:

Take deep breaths

When you feel overwhelmed by clutter, take a few deep breaths to calm your mind and body. When I am stressed out for any reason I have trained myself to count to 8 with each breath in and each breath out. That is 8 counts in and 8 counts out.

There are many breathing exercises, find the one that works best for you.

Focus on the present

Instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, focus on the present moment and what you can do right now to manage your clutter.

a heart pendant , silver, reading I am grateful

Practice gratitude

Reflecting on the things you have, love and are grateful for is always a winning strategy! This can help shift your focus away from clutter-related anxiety.

You can’t be angry and upset if you are smiling and feeling grateful.


Finally, it’s important to practice acceptance when it comes to clutter-related anxiety. This means acknowledging and accepting your feelings without judgment or criticism.  Let go of things that will not matter down the road.

Tips for practicing acceptance:

Be kind to yourself

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling anxious about clutter. Make a to-do-list. It is probable there has been a lot of clutter there for a long time. Don’t expect to rectify the whole thing overnight. Instead, be kind and compassionate toward yourself.

Practice self-care

Take care of your physical and emotional well-being by getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities you enjoy.

Seek support

Consider reaching out to a therapist or support group if you need help managing your clutter-related anxiety. There should not be any stigma attached to this. Certainly no one can fault a person for trying to make positive changes in their lives. 

One object at a time

I suggest to clients that feel overwhelmed to pick up one object at a time and make a decision about keeping this one object or not. Maybe start with the laundry room where presumably you have no emotional attachment to the contents in this area..

Then you could move on to your bedside tables and decide if one object at a time the contents in table are still of value to you mentally or physically.

If you declutter one object a day for a year you will feel 365 objects lighter at the end of this year. That is a lot of decluttering!

Categorize unwanted items 

I find the easiest way to attack the clutter problem is to set out 3 heavy duty large black contractors bags. One bag will be for trash for the items you decide are no longer serving you and would be of no value to others.

The second bag is called your Donation bag and the third bag is labeled Sell. This bag is for good quality objects you have decided to let go of and that you know will fetch a few dollars 

By using these strategies, you can learn to manage your clutter-related anxiety and create a more peaceful, organized space.

If you are decluttering pantry items be mindful that foods that have not passed their expiration dates will be gratefully accepted at your local food bank. There are many donation centers too that will love to have your gently used items. 

A lot of times you will find a lot of stuff you no longer need that may be a lifesaver to a less fortunate person, possibly someone down on their luck. It feels good to donate.

Isn’t it true that at the end of each day the most important things we do for others are the most satisfying and meaningful to us?

Clutters effects are not equal to all people

As we have noted clutter affects everyone differently. Some people find it overwhelming and anxiety-inducing, while others are not bothered by it at all. This could be due to a variety of factors, including genetics, upbringing, and personal preferences.

It’s important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to feel about clutter. If you find it stressful, there are steps you can take to reduce it, such as decluttering your space and creating a more organized environment.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind clutter, there’s no need to feel guilty or ashamed.

Ultimately, the key is to find what works best for you and your lifestyle. Whether you prefer a minimalist approach or a more cluttered space, it’s important to create a living environment that makes you feel comfortable and happy.

By doing so, you can reduce stress and anxiety, and enjoy a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

pic of author

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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