Anyone who knows me well, who has been to my fitness studio or has visited my home knows that I am…A Neat Freak, aka Anally Retentive. I love my stuff organized, neat, clean, orderly, balanced, pressed, folded, or hung. I think you get the picture.
But through the years I’ve eased up, a little. I’ve allowed myself to spend my energy elsewhere on more productive and fulfilling projects. However, I am still a big advocate of the need to keep your stuff tidy. The author Marie Kondo expresses and gives great detail in the process of tidying up to create breakthroughs in your life in her best selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Maybe my “anal tentative behaviors around being neat attracted me to my Japanese wife, Yuki? I know it definitely had a part. 🙂
While tidying up has the obvious benefits of an organized closet, a sparkling countertop, and possibly more importantly, it has been associated with improved mood, decreased stress, heightened creativity and increased activity.
Clutter can increase stress by distracting us and overwhelming our senses with extraneous stimuli and stress, which research has shown is the leading cause of disease. Research also shows that one of the top 5 stressors is clutter. Women specifically have shown to have chronic levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, if they perceive their homes as cluttered.
Beyond negative emotional effects, a disorganized space is also associated with less physical activity. On the contrary, organization and order have been associated with choosing to eat more healthily, being more generous and disciplined in other areas of our lives. With both the physical and psychological benefits to cleaning and decluttering, why doesn’t everyone do it?
There are certain barriers to getting rid of the junk. The time and energy it takes to decide what you want and to make a plan are often saved for more crucial tasks. Furthermore, many of us would rather spend our few minutes of downtime relaxing rather than organizing our file cabinets. But take comfort in knowing that your home and office do not have to be pristine for optimal living and working. The key is finding what environment is most efficient and productive for you.
The NY Times best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tyding Up shows that littered environments encourage more littering; once you make your space tidier, you won’t want to ruin your hard work. Experts report that they see a dramatic change in those who take charge of cleaning and organizing also take charge of their general health, especially in their weight.
So, while organizing and discarding items might not be enjoyable for everyone – the long-term mental and physical effects are reason enough to try a spring cleaning.
Yours in Health & Fitness,
Steve Jordan, BS, CSCS, PES, CPT, HLC