How Can Clutter Cause Anxiety? 

Did you know that clutter can cause anxiety? I try my best to reduce anxiety and stress, which includes reducing the clutter in my house. 

Things I do to help me include exercising regularly, doing breathing exercises when I remember to, getting sunlight as often as possible, dancing, and cleaning my house and getting rid of clutter. 

Creating a clutter-free space is one of my biggest goals at the moment in an attempt to reduce my anxiety and turn some of the chaos around me into order. 

That’s why I set a minimalism challenge for myself. Over the next few months, I am getting rid of clutter, one drawer, cupboard, and room at a time. 

While packing and moving last year, my husband, Jonathan, and I realised that the side effects of clutter go far beyond just making your space look untidy. We both started to feel anxious among all the chaos. 

This made me wonder: “how does clutter cause anxiety?” I did some research to try and find out.

Unless you have OCD or just obsessed with being organised, you probably have some clutter in your life. 

If you’re not neat and orderly, the clutter around you could be contributing to those anxious jitters.

Do you have too many items on your work desk? Are there things you should have taken out of your car months ago? Do you have a habit of collecting more possessions than you currently have space for? 

You probably have some clutter in your life currently that you can get rid of. Do it and see how much better you feel. 

How Can Clutter Cause Anxiety? 

Clutter can trigger overwhelm, which can trigger anxiety. If you have too many items in your sight, it can cause sensory overload, which can make you feel anxious. 

Clutter can have an overwhelming effect. Being around it can cause cortisol to increase. This can make it harder for you to focus, and it also makes it a lot easier to become distracted. Some people feel this more than others, but I truly believe that most people will feel less anxious and stressed if they cleared out the clutter. 

Less clutter means fewer distractions and stimuli, which can reduce anxiety.

How Can Digital Clutter Cause Anxiety? 

It’s not just the clutter around you that can contribute to anxiety and stress. Digital clutter can have a big influence. 

What is digital clutter exactly? 

  • All the emails and messages you get each day
  • All the ads and news articles you scroll past
  • All the apps on your phone you don’t use
  • All the undeleted photos, videos, and other digital files you don’t need or want to keep

You get the idea. Digital clutter can make it harder to focus.

You might not be able to avoid this entirely, but you can try to limit the time you spend on social media. You can also:

  • Do a digital cleanup
  • Unfollow accounts on social media you’re no longer interested in or make you feel bad about yourself, 
  • Unsubscribe to email lists
  • Clear out your inbox
  • Uninstall apps and programs you don’t use

How to Get Rid of Clutter

 So how do you reduce the clutter around you and, ultimately, anxiety? Here are a few tips:

Get Rid of Clutter One Item at A Time

If you aren’t organised by nature, you won’t be able to become super neat overnight. I recommend taking it one step at a time. 

What step do I recommend you take first? Watch these documentaries on Netflix by Matt D’Avella, Ryan Nicodemus, and Joshua Fields Millburn the next time you’re looking for something to watch in your soon-to-be clutter-free living room or bedroom:

  • Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
  • The Minimalists: Less Is Now

In the documentaries, they give advice on ways to get rid of clutter and to move closer to minimalism. You don’t have to go full minimalist, but you can still use their guidelines to help you get rid of clutter for the sake of your mental health

Joshua says that you can start by just getting rid of one possession a day you don’t need. You can also do their 30-day minimalism challenge.

Create A Daily Cleaning Habit

I recently set this goal of cleaning for 30 minutes a day. That’s it, just 30 minutes. And if my house is clean and I don’t have 30 minutes’ worth of chores to do on a particular day, I will try to clean and organise some of my digital files. 

Cleaning digital clutter counts. A lot of people do this for 20 minutes a day. You don’t have to do 30 minutes like I do. Other habits that will help you keep your space clean are taking care of your dishes immediately, making your bed every morning, putting your clothes in the laundry basket, and wiping down your kitchen countertops once a day.

The good thing about getting rid of clutter to reduce anxiety is that you can get some control over one of your anxiety triggers.  


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