How Cleaning Can Be a Stress Reliever
Thu, April 22, 2021

How Cleaning Can Be a Stress Reliever

Reports show that 95% of women feel better when their home is clean, 87% feel that a clean home is a reflection of oneself, and 87% care that their homes appear clean for visitors / Photo by: Prostock-studio via Shutterstock

 

Have you ever noticed how the state of your house or room impacts the way you feel? For instance, your mind can feel “cluttered” when your house is cluttered. If your bathroom is dirty, do you feel really clean after a shower? For some people, cleaning is a chore. But, it could also be the perfect stress reliever.

Reports show that 95% of women feel better when their home is clean, 87% feel that a clean home is a reflection of oneself, and 87% care that their homes appear clean for visitors. On average, women spend 12,896 hours in a lifetime cleaning, while men spend only 6,448 doing the same. While it can be tiring at times, cleanliness can have a huge impact on how you feel throughout the day. 

The Psychology Behind Cleaning

“Tidy house, tidy mind.”

Some of us might have heard that sentence. In recent years, the topics of cleaning and decluttering have been well-talked about in books, television shows, vlogs, and many more. This is due in part to the fact that cleaning has been linked with improved physical and mental health. According to Good Housekeeping, an online source for everything from recipes to product reviews to home decor inspiration, there’s some science behind the connection between cleaning and decreased anxiety. 

A study published in the journal Mindfulness revealed that participants who engaged in mindfully washing their dishes reported a 27% reduction in nervousness and a 25% improvement in “mental inspiration.” Mindfully washing the dishes mean taking a moment to inhale the scent of the soap and allow their skin to absorb the warmth of the water. A 2015 study conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut showed that temporary anxiety can lead to cleaning more meticulously.

According to the researchers, people tend to gravitate toward repetitive behaviors (such as cleaning) during times of stress. Why? Because of control. "We want to be able to do something when we get anxious, and what we really want is to be in control and take action. While there are times we have to accept some situations in life, we do not have to accept an untidy home,” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and author of “Hack Your Anxiety: How to Make Anxiety Work for You, in Life, Love, and All That You Do,” said. 

Another study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin confirmed the link between cleaning and lower stress levels. The study was participated in by 60 dual-income spouses. The researchers had each of them give self-guided tours of their homes. They analyzed the tours by "calculating the frequency of words describing clutter, a sense of the home as unfinished, restful words, and nature words." The team discovered that the participants were more likely to experience a depressed mood throughout the day when their home is more cluttered.

Some of us might have heard that sentence. In recent years, the topics of cleaning and decluttering have been well-talked about in books, television shows, vlogs, and many more / Photo by: Elena Nichizhenova via Shutterstock

 

Elizabeth Su, a life coach and mindfulness expert, emphasized the importance of “keeping the items that ‘spark joy’ while letting go of the things that don’t” in relieving stress. According to Elite Daily, the ultimate digital destination for millennial women, Su stated that cleaning can be a great practice of non-attachment. "You can learn a lot about yourself by the simple act of decluttering and paying attention to what things truly hold meaning in your life,” she said. 

Cleaning can positively impact your mental health by allowing you to self-reflect, which is something social media largely prevents its users from doing. Dr. Sal Raichbach, a licensed psychologist, stated that a simple, repetitive task like dusting forces your brain to shift gears away from stress. It allows you to focus and let go of that extra baggage like anxiety. He suggests doing step-by-step cleaning so you won’t get overwhelmed. "When any project seems impossible, it’s always easier to break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks,” he added. 

Ways Cleaning Alleviates Stress

Cleaning and stress relief have something in common. When we clean, we make something free of marks, dirt, or mess. Similarly, when we seek to free ourselves from stress, we work on removing or forgetting strain, mental clutter, sadness, and anxiety. When we clean, the results like order, good hygiene, and efficiency can be satisfying. When we clean stress from our lives, the results include concentration, focus, direction, calm, and joy. With that, here are some ways cleaning can reduce stress.

1 - Cleaning as an exercise in gratitude

According to VeryWell Mind, a trusted and compassionate online resource that provides guidance on mental health, cleaning allows a person to be thankful. For instance, you can be grateful for the food you have eaten when washing dishes since some people have none. It allows you to reflect on the things you have that you didn't realize you were lucky to have before.

2 - Cleaning as meditation

Most people are not aware that cleaning can be an effective stress management technique. It allows you to think and reflect, leaving you more relaxed after you finish. Sometimes, we all need some silence to think about our lives and be mindful. 

Indeed, it’s time that we see cleaning as a stress reliever instead of just a chore. Every moment we spend alive, even those we spend dusting our shelves or changing our beddings, is precious.