How a Cluttered Living Space Can Affect Anxiety

How a Cluttered Living Space Can Affect Anxiety

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  • Anxiety is an issue that many college students struggle with daily.

    Whether you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or not, too much anxiety isn’t good for anyone, especially when you need to focus on your studies.

    Something that a lot of college students right out of high school can fall into is not taking care of their living space.

    This can exacerbate these problems with stress and anxiety that many college students have to manage. Here’s how a cluttered living space can affect anxiety and make your college life more difficult.


    Our brains are fickle things. They can take in and analyze data so fast that we don’t even realize how we do it, but they can also get overstimulated. Having excessive amounts of clutter can cause this problem.

    Overstimulating your brain with too many visual stimuli can cause feelings of exhaustion and a lack of motivation. You can also become anxious as a result of constantly looking at the mess that lies around you, knowing that the longer you put it off, the larger the mess will grow.

    Getting rid of this clutter or donating what you don’t need can make a huge difference in your long-term mental health.

    Lack of Sleep

    One way that a cluttered living space can affect your anxiety indirectly is in your sleep patterns. Part of the overstimulation caused by a cluttered room makes it so that your brain is more active, constantly deciphering all the incoming visual stimuli.

    This means it’s harder to relax in a messy room, and it can make it harder to fall asleep quickly. Poor sleep quality, or a complete lack of sleep, are common denominators in causing serious anxiety.

    Increased Stress

    Being surrounded by an excess of clutter, even for a short amount of time, can physically affect our bodies as well as our mental health. Being among a lot of clutter can cause people’s brains to create more cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone.

    For a lot of people, feeling stressed out is one of the major causes of anxiety in their lives. College is stressful enough as it is; you don’t need to make it even harder for yourself by living in a place that actively stresses you out more than normal.

    Reduced Focus

    There’s nothing quite as frustrating as trying to focus on something important and finding that you don’t have the energy to do so. This is what happens when you try to focus while living in a cluttered space.

    Your mind is so subconsciously occupied with all the visual information around you that you don’t have as much free headspace to dedicate to what demands your focus. Taking the time to organize and declutter is a small step on the road toward reducing feelings of anxiety, especially around stressful times of the year, such as midterms or finals.

    image credit: Adobe Stock

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