Monthly News Article for May


Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools • (530) 623-2861


By Sarah Supahan, Superintendent of Schools

Clutter and Mess Increases Stress

Did you know your cluttered home, office or classroom may be having an adverse affect on health?

Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, our classrooms and ourselves. Messy spaces can leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives. That direct link between excess clutter and higher stress levels has been made in numerous studies.

Findings from UCLA researchers showed that those who had an increased level of clutter in their environment also had higher levels of a stress hormone known as cortisol. Clutter can also bombard our minds with too much stimulation, causing our senses to work overtime. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.

A study conducted by Princeton University Neuroscience researchers confirms that a cluttered environment impedes the ability to focus. When children or adults have a hard time focusing, mental faculties get worn down and frustration ensues, causing stress. Struggling to focus properly also inhibits the ability to be creative and to problem solve. It’s therefore more difficult for students to complete their school work either in school or at home. Scrubbing, dusting, vacuuming, and organizing don't just make our spaces look better, the act of cleaning and de-cluttering, along with its end results, has a positive impact on mental health.

If cleaning and de-cluttering can be more appealing, a person is more likely to do it. Try these tips:

  • Set a timer. Set aside a specific amount of time to make organizing and/or cleaning more manageable. Taking just 15 or 30 minutes to tidy up can make a difference.
  • Get everyone, especially children, to pitch in. It's easier to tackle bigger projects when you get others involved — and the whole process takes less time.
  • Make it fun. Clean with fun music, incorporate some silly dancing, or make it a competitive event.

And consider these other suggestions:

  • Buy less. Really evaluate the necessity of a purchase and weigh the pros and cons of how much it will enrich your life, your children, or your student’s lives.
  • Eliminate non-essential belongings. Even if the minimalist lifestyle isn’t for you, it isn’t difficult to live with fewer things. Just about all of us own many things that get little to no use. Throw away, donate or recycle them and clutter will be more manageable.
  • Use smart storage solutions. Investing in smart ways to improve storage and organization isn’t included in the “buying less” category because of the long-term benefits they can provide. Try to make storage "closed" spaces, such as in drawers and cabinets. Storing things on open shelves or on top of your desk does not remove the visual stimulation that creates stress.
  • Maintain your clean space. Closed storage solutions do make it easier to keep the indoor environment clean and organized, but there is still a need to maintain the clean space. Be sure everyone puts things away once they are done with them in the dedicated storage area.

Trinity County Office of Ed | 201 Memorial Drive | PO Box 1256 |  Phone (530) 623-2861 | FAX (530) 623-4489

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