April is Stress Awareness month and I think it is safe to assume Stress is something most of us, if not all of us, have experienced in some capacity. Whether a quick burst of stress before an important meeting at work or longer durations of stress due to something like a family member falling ill. Stress seems to be unavoidable at times so, while it is good to find ways to prevent stress, some forms of stress are simply unavoidable as we go thru life. It is therefore worthwhile to find some ways to reduce stress when you are experiencing it.
Some of the most common ways to reduce stress involve movement and exercise. Exercise releases endorphins which provide an immediate improvement in stress and mood. If you are looking for a large dose of stress reduction, try cleaning! You may think cleaning is another chore on your to-do list and wonder how on earth that is going to reduce stress. Perhaps cleaning IS on your to-do list and is one of the things that is causing you to be stressed because you haven’t gotten to it. However, there is extensive research on the benefits of cleaning as it relates to stress. Cluttered spaces increase stress and anxiety, while having a space that is organized and clean helps to relax your mind. AND the endorphin release from the exercise of cleaning is an instant mood lifter, causing an all-around improvement.
Cleaning is a chore that can be made more fun by adding in a few things to boost the overall experience. First off, MUSIC! Put together a playlist or channel on your favorite music streaming platform and turn the volume up. The time will feel like it is going by quicker, and you will be inclined to move more with your favorite tunes playing. Second, choose fun cleaning products that you like the smell of. We all have a different idea of what smells “clean” or what scents we associate with a clean house from our childhoods. Choose products that give you the feelings of clean. If your favorite cleaners are lemon scented, stock up on lemon scented products to elevate your cleaning routine. Have you been using stained and ripped old rags for cleaning? Buy yourself some new cleaning cloths, I recommend microfiber. Microfiber cloths can be purchased in many assorted colors now. If you have lemon scented products you could use yellow microfiber cloths for a yellow/lemon theme 😊 Great music, clean smelling products and fun tools will turn this chore into a fun experience that will make you feel good about your space.
Personally, I enjoy the act of cleaning because I know how I feel when it is done. So, while scrubbing toilets and washing floors may not be the equivalent of the fun I would associate with, say, going on vacation, the satisfaction of knowing my living space is clean, sanitary and organized is like a breath of fresh air. Aside from the daily wipe downs I do on my countertops and stove top while cooking dinner, I like to do some form of cleaning every weekend so that I go into the workweek with a clean space. During the week our household is so busy with work and school schedules that having clean floors and dust free surfaces provides a sense of calm amid the chaos.
The following article “Why Cleaning Helps Anxiety – Stress Cleaning Works (goodhousekeeping.com)” is a great read for the benefits of cleaning as it relates to stress. A couple of points from the article:
“A full 70% of Americans say tidying their home offers them a feeling of accomplishment, 61% say it makes them feel ‘destressed,’ and 54% say they experience ‘relaxation.’”
“Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist discusses the healing powers of cleaning with her patients. ‘When we look at our environment, we take it all in visually,’ she says. ‘If we’re already dealing with a lot in our mind and now we’re looking at a lot [of dust or stuff] in our home or office space, it can make us feel stuck and bogged down.’”
“Interestingly enough, this concept ties into a 2010 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, which found that females living in a cluttered home showed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”
So next time, or even before next time, you feel a little overwhelmed and stressed out, clean your house! As a preventative measure you could stock up on the items suggested above and start making cleaning your house a routine. You could set aside as little as 30 minutes on a Saturday morning to complete a cleaning project. This could be damp wiping the doors in all the Bedrooms in your home. Then the following week damp wiping the baseboards in the Bedrooms. Doing small bits of cleaning still has great effects on your physical and mental health, the perfect 1-2 punch for relieving stress. And if you are feeling even more ambitious and want to tackle your whole home be sure to check out our free downloadable Spring Cleaning Checklist.
Cheers to a clean home!