How I used Cleaning to Reduce Stress
If you’re like me, cleaning and stress go hand-in-hand. Having a dirty and cluttered home makes you stressed, but even just the thought of cleaning can make you overwhelmed. To be honest, before I started working at Tri Nature I used to avoid it like the plague!
Knowing where to start was the first struggle. I would think about cleaning one item in the house, then one room and then the entire house. Should I do it bit-by-bit throughout the week or smash it out all in one day? Either way I tried, it never felt completed and seemed like it was a never-ending struggle to try and keep tidy. Then there was the worry of unexpected guests showing up unannounced. The thought of this would make me cringe with embarrassment (even though they wouldn’t care and it was all in my head).
Living in a space which you deem to be dirty, untidy, cluttered or messy can affect our stress levels which in turn can affect many aspects of our life, including sleep, our relationships and our ability to focus.
I decided to do some research on the topic and these are some of my findings -
- “Bursting cupboards and piles of paper stacked around the house may seem harmless enough. But research shows disorganisation and clutter have a cumulative effect on our brains. Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganisation drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus.” – abc.net.au
- “In one 2010 study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers captured the life of 60 dual-income families. The participants were given a camera and were asked to do a tour of their homes, meaning they walked around their space, discussing their things and what they meant to them. The conclusion? Women who perceived their homes as cluttered had less healthy patterns of the stress hormone cortisol, explains lead study author Darby Saxbe, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, and they felt more stress as the day went on. People who didn’t feel this sense of clutter, on the other hand, actually experienced a drop in their cortisol levels.” – prevention.com
- Cleaning can also be a way to improve your overall health. But don’t just take my word for it. Science can back me up! “A study led by associate professor NiCole R. Keith, Ph.D., research scientist and professor at Indiana University, found that people with clean houses are healthier than people with messy houses. Keith and her colleagues tracked the physical health of 998 African Americans between the ages of 49 and 65, a demographic known to be at an increased risk for heart disease. Participants who kept their homes clean were healthier and more active than those who didn’t. In fact, house cleanliness was even more of a predictor for physical health than neighborhood walkability.” – psychologytoday.com
That was enough for me - I needed to start to think of cleaning differently.
So, I researched many different articles on the topic until I found some things I could implement and that might work for me. I gave it a try and it worked! Cleaning became the way I managed my stress. I now feel so much less stressed about cleaning and just in general . . . I would have never believed it!
And so here it is…This is how I used cleaning to reduce stress -
1. I planned ahead - I made 2 lists.
I know it seems simple but I made a list of all the things I wanted to achieve within the week (my weekly cleaning list) and then another for the month (my monthly decluttering list). To avoid disappointment, I tried to be realistic on what I could achieve and not try to take on too much.
Next to each item I estimated how long I thought each task would take so I could decide when was the best time to tackle them. I also sat down with my partner and we shared with each other the chores which we really hated doing and the ones we didn’t mind or enjoyed more than others – then we divvied them up. I needed to stop trying to tackle everything myself and share some of the burden.
Every time we completed a task we got a permanent marker and drew a big fat line through the middle. It feels oddly satisfying – trust me! Breaking it up between what I wanted to achieve in a week and what I wanted to achieve the month made the tasks not seem as large or as difficult to achieve. I felt like I was finally accomplishing something!
2. I made cleaning more enjoyable.
I needed to change my perspective on cleaning and try and make it a more gratifying experience for myself. My allocated cleaning tasks now became my “me-time” and a time for my partner to leave the house and walk the dog (hehe)! Cleaning became my unwinding time and is sometimes accompanied by my favourite playlist, podcast, essential oil blend or a glass of wine. It is dependent on how I am feeling and what I am needing at the time.
3. Sometimes I make cleaning my meditation-time.
If my mind is feeling cluttered as well as my home, I turn some cleaning tasks into my meditation-time. I try to redirect my thoughts solely onto the object itself which can distract me from thoughts and worries of my daily life. Cleaning can be an escape and give us a sense of control that might be hard to find in other places of our busy lives. Cleaning became my stress relief. Playing relaxing instrumental music helps me make this more of a therapeutic experience. Once the task is completed the consequence is order, efficiency, good hygiene and beauty. Once we clean stress from our lives, the end results include focus, concentration, direction, joy, calm and the ability to accomplishment goals and dreams. (Source: everydaypower.com)
4. I think of it as part of my exercise routine. When you think about it, cleaning requires plenty of physical movement including walking up and down the stairs, lifting, bending, stretching and moving your arms up and around. I started to think of it more as a part of my weekly exercise routine; an activity that can result in burning some calories, increasing my heart rate and freeing some endorphins!
5. I decluttered.
I had a binge-sesh on Marie Kondo’s Netflix sensation – Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I now follow some aspects of the KonMari method in my home, especially when it comes to only keeping items that truly make me happy (or spark joy) and I get rid of the ones that don’t. In saying this I make sure I do so sustainability (See this article where I provide my tips for decluttering sustainably). This is where my monthly decluttering list came in handy. I pick just 1 or 2 decluttering tasks for the month and tackle them when I have time. Over time these tasks aren’t as big as my home gets less and less cluttered.
6. And last but not least, I changed the cleaning products I was using.
Since working at Tri Nature I find that their environmentally friendly products not only perform better than anything I have every used, but they also smell amazing! As I am extremely sensitive to smells, having my cleaning products fragranced with natural essential oils makes the task a lot more enjoyable. I am no longer gasping for air from the toxic, artificial fumes and nasty chemicals. Even though Tri Nature products are naturally derived, they have been carefully formulated with plant-based superpower ingredients to have unrivaled efficiency. Therefore, by using Tri Nature products you ensure you are . . .
✔ less reliant on hard scrubbing
✔ less reliant on hot water.
✔ will get normal cleaning jobs done faster.
Overall, the products made cleaning so much easier and enjoyable – reducing my apprehension and worry about the tasks ahead.
I’m not promising that these cleaning and decluttering methods will work for you, but if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed and hate even just the thought of cleaning, I would say it is worth a try.
Happy Stress-Free Cleaning!
Graphic Designer / Digital Marketing
Aka: Mum of a big goofy Weimaraner, Coffee Addict, Creative, Big Dreamer and Environmentalist (On a mission to reduce my impact one step at a time).
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