Cleaning, it does impact your health

27 Aug

I’m someone who absolutely hates cleaning. I’ve hated it for as long as I can remember. I still have memories of my parents yelling at me as a kid to clean my toys, getting in trouble for not doing the dishes and as a teenager climbing over mountains of clothes in my bedroom.

Cleaning, for me, has been the worst chore in the world, but I also know how much better I feel when I have a clean home. In a clean space I get more accomplished, I sleep better and I am peaceful. However, that has never been motivation enough to get me to scrub toilets and organize closets, until recently that is.

I’ve started to approach life holistically. If you consider that all areas of life impact each other, you can really see why having a messy space while maintaining clean eating habits doesn’t work so well. For example, there’s something really off when the fridge is clean and you’re eating well but the dining room table has piles of paper and mail scattered all over it. Those two things are at odds with each other and create a sort of mental dissonance. That then creates clutter for the brain. As long as the surroundings are messy the results that can produced are limited.

There’s a great article about this very topic in the New York Times, A Clutter Too Deep for Mere Bins and Shelves, 1.1.2008.

Although the article focuses more on compulsive hoarders and collectors, there’s a portion of it that explains how people have lost weight when they choose to clean up the mess in their living space:

Dr. Peeke [assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and the author of “Fit to Live” (Rodale, 2007)] says she often instructs patients trying to lose weight to at least create one clean and uncluttered place in their home. She also suggests keeping a gym bag with workout clothes and sneakers in an uncluttered area to make it easier to exercise. She recalls one patient whose garage was “a solid cube of clutter.” The woman cleaned up her home and also lost about 50 pounds.

“It wasn’t, at the end of the day, about her weight,” Dr. Peeke said. “It was about uncluttering at multiple levels of her life.”

How awesome is that? Losing pounds of clutter can lead to shedding pounds off your body! And just imagine what it does for the mind!

How am I now applying this?
This past week with a new context for cleaning I’ve gone to battle with one of my closets that’s been accumulating stuff since I moved in two years ago.

Messy closet, view 1

Messy closet, view 1

Messy closet, View 1

Messy closet, View 2

It’s not quite done but here’s the new closet. It just looks more peaceful in there.

Ahhh… clean closet

Ahhh… clean closet

What I’ve gotten rid of is a giant duffel bag of clothes (that I’ll be donating), old art supplies, empty boxes, and misc. garbage I just don’t need. I’ll keep you updated on the impact of cleaning out the closets and clutter.

Do you have a story about how cleaning up a room or closet changed some aspect of your life? Or are you an expert in organization and can offer us some tips? I’d love to hear from you.


4 Responses to “Cleaning, it does impact your health”

  1. k.franz August 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    love your motivation> please will me some!!! i do like to to purge my hosue every once-in-awhile. it does feel good afterward, but for some reason i seem to feel more cluttered… or maybe it just has moved into different rooms. so it is only temporarily rewarding. maybe ill try focusing on one room or closet at a time and see how we go from here. thanks jo.

    • 40daykedge August 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

      Katy, sending some motivation your way. I think you have the right idea, taking it area by area and small steps. It’s a journey after all. It helps me to look at things as a journey more so than a major project. In the long-term the small steps add up to bigger impact. Let me know how it goes.

  2. MacKenzie @ Fighting the Pudge August 27, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Nice work Joanna! Your closet looks fab!

    I grew up with a hyper-organized Mom and a lot of that filtered down to my sister and me. But I do have a pile here and there, sometimes. If I have a pile on my desk, I don’t think twice in getting rid of it. I take as little time as possible to check if I need something from that pile and chances are I don’t. Not looking back after you’ve pitched something seems to help me 🙂

    • 40daykedge August 27, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

      What’s funny is that my mom was super organized too, except I think I rebelled against it. I like your tip of taking as little time as possible to check if I need something. I’m going to use that. Thanks!

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