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Having too much stuff is a growing epidemic in our modern world. It is commonplace have houses, garages, attics, basements, and storage sheds bursting at the seams. Besides the enormous financial effects of owning all these things, what is it doing to our health?

I recently came across the book “Life At Home In The Twenty-First Century”, which was the end result of a nine-year project by researchers at UCLA. This book examines what is really in our homes, and how we really live our lives. The results are staggering.

75% of households had garages packed so full that there was no space for the car. That means only one-quarter of people with garages actually use them for their intended purposes!

Clutter is greatly increased by our tendency to stockpile food and cleaning supplies, thanks to the popularity of bulk stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club.

Americans invest major money in renovating and improving our yards and “master suites”, yet the spaces go mostly unused.

Researchers tested the hormone levels of the participants, and found that dealing with the excess volume of possessions was such a serious problem that it actually elevated the levels of stress hormones in mothers.
The average American household is suffocating under the weight of endless clutter.

Stuff is oppressive. It weighs on us in an emotional way that often goes unnoticed, although the effects are very real. Clutter creates chaos in both our environment, and our minds. In some instances (more than one might expect) professional help is required to break the cycle of buying and spending…both in the form of financial counseling, and traditional therapy.

Simply seeing the chaos and disorder around us creates stress and increases anxiety.

Needing to constantly tidy and reorganize the clutter creates stress (and sucks time away from more leisurely activities that are necessary for mental health).

The cost of acquiring things creates unnecessary financial stress.

In recent articles found on WebMD, professionals have begun to link clutter with both anxiety and depression. They also note a positive change in energy levels and attitudes once people begin to let go and control their clutter. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States, and are the most common mental illness in the U.S. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health). Now obviously, anxiety disorders come in many forms, and I am certainly not suggesting that all mental illness can be cured by cleaning out your home. What I am suggesting is that, in an already stressed and chaotic life, minimizing the mountains of stuff we have may help to bring a little more peace into our lives. And peace is a good thing.

What do you think? Do you notice a change in your mood, based on the things in your environment?


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  1. After getting past the first paragraph (which is obviously not what the article is about), this post had some information about clutter that I didn’t realize – stress levels of mothers being more. It makes sense, I suppose, because mom is typically the one that keeps track of all the kids belongings in addition to her own and kids accumulate lots of clothes and toys if you aren’t careful. I’ve always known that clutter can cause craziness and I love it when people visit my home for the first time and they ask me where all my stuff is. I declutter at least once, sometimes twice a year. I don’t shop excessively and my wardrobe is far smaller than most. I’ve learned to place more value on experiences than stuff.

  2. I really love to declutter. I enjoy organizing my belongings. However, we still own more than we truly have room for. And when everything is not in its place, I feel grumpy and stressed. Not only do I feel more anxious when my house is cluttered, I am less productive and creative.

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