How Clutter Affects Your Health

Clutter can affect health in many ways. When we are surrounded by excess possessions we don’t function well as excess energy is spent dealing and creating the mess.  People who have trouble with sprawling, excessive possessions experience mental imbalance. Defined as `a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass’, clutter designates a mass of things that aren’t organized, probably aren’t needed and that seem to be in the way of normal activity. Also known as `anything that is kept not being needed or wanted’, clutter relates to physical things, as well as virtual things (think emails) or relationships, even activities and emotional issues. Ownership of overwhelming possessions can be an addiction and is a growing problem. Unfortunately, the advent of online shopping and free and easy delivery of things may have worsened the situation for many.

Many people collect things- books, clothing, shoes, music… Problems occur when the collections become unmanageable, unusable. The addiction to possession obsession resulting in clutter can affect anyone- men, women, people of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels. Like many addictions, it is considered to be a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder and is frequently attended by other disorders such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse. Sufferers can seek help for their problem from social workers and psychologists who have training in this field; professional organizers can also help. Freeing oneself from excessive possessions can be healing for that person, family members, friends, and even pets who have to live in a chaotic environment.

 People with an addiction to collecting unneeded things frequently feel ashamed at their behavior and the untidy nature of their surroundings; they may avoid entertaining guests because of this resulting in social isolation. Although the addicted individual feels that acquiring something will make them feel better, this is frequently not the case and sadness can deepen with that realization. Also, some people who collect things needlessly are anxious about wasting the earth’s resources and feel guilty about the things they own and don’t need. The cost of purchasing these items can be phenomenal, and the storage of unneeded things consumes vast resources for many people as well.

The growth of the storage industry has ballooned over the past 20 years- we now store more excess personal tangible goods like books and clothes than ever before. Additionally, we use our computers, iphones, even our watches to store things- ideas, sounds, pictures; which, while virtual still consumes energy-with ever-increasing storage capacity. Our houses, and our cars, are bigger than ever- and loaded with things we don’t need or at least can’t pay attention to in any meaningful way. Each of us suffers from clutter addiction to an extent and it is up to each of us to reduce, reuse and eliminate things that don’t help us fulfill our lives.

As we start the new year, be aware of the clutter in your life and how it affects you and your health and your relationships.

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