There’s Scientific Evidence That Clutter Causes Anxiety

A study conducted by UCLA’s Center On Everyday Lives and Families showed that the relationship between clutter, anxiety, and stress is chemical. The study showed that women who live in cluttered homes have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than average.

It makes a lot of sense, when your house is tidy and well organized, everything seems to run smoothly and life is easier in general. You feel better and more relaxed. Whereas if your house is untidy, you don´t know where to begin, you can´t find things, you feel lost, anxious and get irritated easily!

Another study by Princeton University found that working in a physically cluttered environment negatively affects your ability to focus and process information, which leads to stress. Psychologists also agree that clutter can be a great source of anxiety for some people. And If you need to be creative in your job, and your desk is a complete mess, you can´t concentrate and get things done.


According to psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, who writes for Psychology Today, a messy home and/or work environment can lead to more stress and in some cases, the clutter itself can be ‘a significant source of stress.’Sherrie says that there are 8 main components which contribute to clutter causing so much stress. The first is that clutter causes an abundance of stimuli from the external world whether it is through sight, sound, touch, smell or taste. Sherrie says that this causes ‘our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.’ 

The second one is that when our workspace is a mess, we can´t focus on our job-related tasks. Thirdly, Sherrie says that clutter makes it hard for people to sit back and relax, clutter sends signals ‘to our brains that our work is never done.’

Because of the clutter and the mess, clutter causes our brains to think that we are never finished. It can also cause anxiety in some people because they don’t know exactly where things are and they are unsure ‘what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.’ Sixth, clutter causes mixed emotions in some people. For those who need an organized and clean home or workspace, which is almost all people, seeing clutter can cause feelings of guilt or embarrassment.

Number seven, when you are in an open and clean space, you feel free, creative and productive. A lack of open space, an untidy closed space prevents creativity and productivity. You can´t really think, brainstorm and solve problems.

And finally, clutter can cause feelings of frustration or even anger since we can get agitated when we can’t find what we need.

To end with this problem it´s always a good idea to receive help, work as a team with your family, or partner or roommate and start de-cluttering, start with one room or space at a time and finish.

The psychologist says ‘create designated spaces for frequently used items and supplies so that you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for when you need it. However, try to make these designated spaces “closed” spaces, such as drawers and cabinets. “Storing” things on open shelves or on top of your desk does not remove those visual stimuli that create stress and lessen the amount of open space that your mind “sees.”’

What do you think? Do you feel uncomfortable when your house is a mess?