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Do you ever look around your house and feel…anxious?

It happens to all of us sometimes. You take a look at the mess and clutter of your house and just feel anxiety and stress creeping in as the mess begins to feel insurmountable.

There’s some truth to the way you’re feeling – studies have actually shown that a cluttered house can impede sleep and increase feelings of stress and anxiety due to the increased visual stimulation your brain is getting. If it looks like there’s too much stuff in your house, you can start to feel like your life is going out of control in front of your very eyes.

It might sound a little dramatic, but that’s just the way your brain handles these sort of situations, and it can really start to make your day-to-day life more difficult.

Never fear! We’ve got some decluttering tips that specifically focus on the areas of your home (and life) that can cause you the most stress if left uncleaned. Take a look at this list and feel the tension already starting to fade:

Focus on the rooms you’re in most

Most stress and anxiety caused by messy, unorganized rooms is due to visual stimulus affecting the brain. Take time to review the rooms you spend the most time in and go from there. Do you find yourself relaxing in the living room a lot after work? Maybe try re-organizing your living room furniture and finding a new home for all the wayward phone chargers, shoes, and magazines that have made their way in there. Is your home office getting a little out of control? Try purging some of your paperwork, clean off your desk a little, and set up some home office organization to keep it from getting messy again. Whatever room you spend most of your day in, focus on that first to prevent stress from affecting you later.

Provide a good sleeping area

Above and beyond the room (or rooms) you tackled in the previous step, decluttering is also crucial for getting a good night’s sleep – and getting a good night’s sleep is a big help in reducing anxiety overall. When your brain is surrounded by clutter it can start to interpret that hodgepodge as a task that needs completing, and that can keep you up at night with feelings of anxiety or being unaccomplished. Make sure your bedroom is free of as much visual stimulus and clutter as it can be; keep things in the closet or your bedroom dressers to avoid feeling like work needed to be done. Remember, “out of sight, out of mind” is a perfectly fine strategy when it comes to decluttering for stress reduction.

Think about why you hang onto clutter

A lot of decluttering can be accomplished pretty easily by analyzing why your home was so cluttered in the first place. Why do you have all this stuff anyway? Have you just not gotten around to getting rid of it or do you have some bigger emotional connection? Are all those ingredients in your kitchen there because you’re planning on some grandiose meal with them, or do you just not want to throw out a half-full spice container? Are you keeping that jacket around because you want to wear it again after working out? These things can really start to pile up after a while, and you need to start being honest with yourself about why it’s there in the first place – after that you can start letting go of things much more easily.

Finish any of your unfinished projects

A big cause of clutter, and an increased cause of stress above and beyond what you’re encountering already, can be the sight of an unfinished project around the house. Try to make time to finish these projects, or at least reduce your visual reminders of them – finish that painting, complete your bedroom redecorating, send out those thank-you cards from your anniversary party, so on and so forth. Committing to a task that’s been hanging over your head for a while can be a huge, immediate, and long-term reducer of stress in your life.

If it’s broken – toss it

Finally, a common source of clutter and the related stress/guilt that it brings is that junk drawer full of broken stuff you mean to fix one day. Phones you haven’t used in two years, headphones with one ear not working, scissors that aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be, etc. Much like the previous step, the knowledge of these unfinished projects hanging over your head can cause a lot of stress when you’re reminded of it, and in a lot of cases it’s going to be a lot easier and more productive to simply throw them out and replace them instead of trying to fix it.

Hopefully after these tips you’ll be in a much better place when it comes to stress at home – and you’ll love how much tidier your house is!

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