Ever since the day we could walk our parents, teachers, guardians, and so on have been telling us to clean up and not leave a mess lying about. Common responses have included eye rolling and groaning, but in reality they really did know best. Maybe they did not understand the exact benefits of straightening up, yet the positive response is obvious.
January 9th is National Clean Off Your Desk Day and if you choose to partake in this day and clean up, whether it be your desk, bedroom, car, or anywhere else you’ve left a tragic trail of sloppiness, you’ll be benefiting yourself both mentally and physically. Cleaning can be therapeutic and cleansing, leaving your mind at peace while at the same time being physically exhilarating.
As everything returns to its proper place and the dirt is swept up off the floor your shoulders will drop. The crease between your eyes will lessen and all those would up muscles will relax as stress slides off you. You may not have even realized it, but that haphazard pile of papers or those sneakers strewn across the floor may have been what was causing that knot in your back or tick in your eye. Without the worry a mess leaves you have less stress and can invite others over to enjoy your home with a lighter demeanor.
“If we can’t decide what to throw out of our clothes closets, how in the world are we going to decide what to throw out of our mental closets – closets that are overflowing with the debris of indecisions?” (Blanke)
Improves Mental State
In addition to the lack of stress, being tidy is good for your mind and leads to a happier life. Coming downstairs and sitting on the couch without having to worry that there might be a pile of laundry stacked upon it leads to an unconscious sense of peace and serenity. Little instances like these may not seem like much, but not having clutter in the way ultimately leads to happiness.
“In our less developed prehistory, we needed to continually survey our environment, to make sure that nothing that found us appetizing was approaching. It’s easier to review a less cluttered environment; danger stands out more clearly.” (Augustin)
Cleaning sets focus to one task at a time. This task could be vacuuming or filing papers, but both are rhythmic and have repetitive motion until it is completed. Having one thing to do or a set goal hones the mind and brings it together. Focus is necessary and it becomes easier to focus after cleaning. The mind becomes stronger and able to focus for longer periods of time.
Not only does cleaning bring peace to the mind, it strengthens the body. Sure it is not your typical workout like pilates or throwing weights at the gym, however it is active and repetitive just like any other form of exercise. Instead of 20 reps of squats give 20 reps with the vacuum. It might not be the most intensive workout, nevertheless calories and being burned and muscles are being stretched and strengthened.
You Eat Better
When everything is clean and tidy you will develop planning skills as well as time and space to prep food. With everything organized food can be planned and prepared which leads to healthier choice and eating habits. In addition, according to research in the journal Psychological Science comfort food and eating in excess is a coping mechanism for dealing with clutter and stress.
“Orderly environments promote convention and healthy choices, which could improve life by helping people follow social norms and boosting well-being. Disorderly environments stimulate creativity, which has widespread importance for culture, business, and the arts” (Vohs).
January is the perfect month to have this time of cleansing and de-cluttering because it is a way to start the new year off right. Everyone makes resolutions every year geared toward their health, both mental and physical, and here is a simple way to improve both. The new year is a new opportunity, as cliche as that may be, and is the perfect time to make a change. Keeping things tidy might be just the thing that has been holding you down and adding sadness to these darker winter months.
Clean up that desk or clean up your house and then reward yourself, you deserve it. Show off that newly cleaned kitchen and throw a dinner party or sit back at that clean desk and read a book, or shop online whatever you like, no judgement. Take full advantage of National Clean off Your Desk Day and then reap the benefits as the new year begins.
Augustin, Sally. “Fall Cleaning As Important As Spring Cleaning.” Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. Jan. 2017.
Blanke, Gail. Throw out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life. New York: Springboard, 2009. Print.
Vohs, Kathleen D., Joseph P. Redden, and Ryan Rahinel. “Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, and Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity.”Psychological Science. Sage Journals, 1 Aug. 2013. Web. Jan. 2017.