Why cleaning is good for your mental health

Tidy home = tidy mind [Photo: Getty]
Tidy home = tidy mind [Photo: Getty]

When some people are feeling stressed or anxious they might stick on a mindfulness app or book themselves a relaxing massage.

But for others swiping the mop across the kitchen floor or giving the shelves a quick dust can be every bit as beneficial for mental health as meditation.

For some of us, even the sight of a clean and tidy home, can help temporarily blunt the effects of a stressful day.

But why does getting busy with the bleach have such a positive impact on our mental wellbeing?

There are a few explanations for why cleanliness could help to lower stress and anxiety levels, says Vicky Motley, Senior Brand Manager at Zoflora.

“Cleaning has been found to have positive effects on our mental health by helping us gain a sense of control over our environment, whilst being absorbed in the activity itself can also help calm your mind,” she says.

“It has also been found to help improve mood and provide us with a sense of satisfaction.”

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Science offers some insight on the connection between cleaning and anxiety too.

A study published in the journal Mindfulness found that participants who mindfully washed up, ie they took time to try to take in the smell of the washing up liquid etc.. reported a 27% reduction in nervousness, along with a 25% improvement in "mental inspiration,” whatever that is.

Clearing the clutter can help ease stress too. A further study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, revealed that women living in a cluttered home showed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

“Several studies have found that having clutter in our homes can have a negative impact on our mental health, resulting in feelings of tension and uncertainty,” Motley explains.

“Clutter can overstimulate the senses as it is often seen as unfinished business. As a result, large amounts of clutter can reduce our ability to concentrate on other tasks and affect our ability to focus,” she adds.

Improving our concentration and productivity aren’t the only benefits of upping our cleaning game either.

Here’s some other mental health wins of getting your Mrs Hinch on...

Endorphin Boost

Sure we know that working out releases endorphins, but cleaning is actually a form of exercise, which means it causes us to reap the same feel good benefits.

“As an added bonus, you could burn as much as 102 calories from only an hour of light effort household cleaning or up to 204 calories for more vigorous tasks, such as giving the bathroom a good scrub!” adds Motley.

“Not to mention there is also a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment in being able to tick all of those cleaning jobs off your 'Hinch list'.”

Why cleaning can be good for your mental health [Photo: Getty]
Why cleaning can be good for your mental health [Photo: Getty]

Better smelling home = happier mind

Believe it or not the scent of your home, can have a huge effect on your mood.

“Certain scents can give you a much needed lift, making you feel more energised, motivated and refreshed, whilst others can help you relax and reduce feelings of stress,” explains Motley.

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Decluttering can improve your sleep

We all know the benefits a good night's sleep can have on your mood, but trying to sleep in a messy room can be a real struggle.

“Since humans are energetic beings, the more energy that freely circulates around us, the easier it is for us to rejuvenate with deep, restful sleep,” explains Dean Davies from Fantastic Services.

“So organising your bedroom by removing any object that is on its place (including work objects like your computer) will signal to your brain that once you lie down, it's time for nothing else but deep rest.”

Improves focus

“Your spiritual and emotional health often shows itself in your daily task, especially when it comes to the place where you spend most of your time. Thus the surroundings play a huge role in your mental clearness and focus,” explains Davis.

“In 2011, a Princeton University research proved that clutter can make it more difficult to focus on a specific task.

“They found that the visual cortex can be overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects, which dislocate attention and expands your tack-completion time. Decluttering will naturally stop your brain from multitasking turn you into a concentrated productivity machine,” he adds.

Promotes a sense of achievement

Professional Organiser Ingrid Durosiova points out that the act of decluttering can sometimes bring about an immense sense of achievement which can feel very empowering during a difficult period.

“If you are struggling, I'd recommend taking things slow and in stages you so that you don't feel overwhelmed when you begin the de-clutter,” she advises.

“Some mental health sufferers may also experience 'brain fog' which can often make it harder to make decisions so if you have a friend or loved one who can help with the task then definitely ask them to support you through this,” she adds.