Can a Clean Environment Improve Mental Health?
Recovery utilizes various therapeutic approaches that improve stress management and cultivate success. While there are well-known treatments—such as therapy, mindfulness, and yoga—that assist in overcoming stress and anxiety, the simple act of cleaning is a powerful practice that is often overlooked. Taking time to dust shelves, disinfect counters, vacuum, and organize is just as beneficial to your mental health as practicing mindfulness.
Additionally, a clean and organized home provides a calming and comforting environment to unwind and de-stress. Implementing time to clean into your daily schedule can have a profound impact on your recovery. Here’s a closer look at the benefits cleaning has on mental health, along with how to incorporate cleaning rituals into your daily routine.
Gain Control of Your Environment
A significant portion of recovery entails learning what you can control and what you cannot. Unnecessary and excessive stressors in your day can leave you feeling caught up in a whirlwind as if you’re losing control. Cleaning is a great way to reassert control and order into your day while working through these uncertainties. Being able to dominate your environment lessens the impact of negative and unforeseen variables that may arise.
Additionally, clutter and disorganization can be distressing, making it even harder to focus on or complete simple tasks. Consequently, you might feel as though you are stuck and unmotivated to finish projects. Therefore, the urge to clean could be your mind and body looking for a way to restore and maintain order in your environment. Engaging your mind in repetitive activities that organize your space will have a euphoric effect, leading to a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and inner peace.
The state of your environment and mental health are directly linked. Individuals who take the time to practice mindfulness while cleaning, i.e., smelling the soap when washing dishes or folding laundry, reduce their anxiety simply by living in the moment. Further, making your bed and sleeping on clean sheets contribute to a better night’s rest.
Getting quality rest improves overall mood and energy levels. Because of the physical labor and mental attentiveness that goes into cleaning, the positive side effects are extraordinary for those in recovery; cleaning improves stress and anxiety and furthermore helps reduce symptoms of depression and leaves you with an overall sense of accomplishment. Cleaning also conditions the body to reduce fatigue, which helps maintain healthy energy levels while avoiding burnout.
If your living space is cluttered or exceptionally dirty, your ability to focus is likely being hindered by chaos, and you may not even realize it. Messy environments can restrict the brain’s ability to process information. On the contrary, when you create an organized space, you have a more balanced mood, a better sense of calm, and are able to process information at a faster pace because you are focusing on these tasks.
If you’re experiencing difficulty focusing on work or similar activities, you can try decluttering your environment. Doing so will not only tidy up your living space but will help clear your mind and elevate your ability to concentrate. Additionally, limiting the number of items in your workspace and/or home will help minimize distractions so you can concentrate on the task at hand and accomplish it efficiently.
You don’t have to clean every nook and cranny each time you clean. Doing so is counterintuitive, leading to a cleaning aversion or anxiety at the mere thought of it. So, instead of trying to clean your space from top to bottom as if it’s a chore, or cultivating a compulsion, start small and work on a little bit each day.
Much like working out, you would not want to exercise every muscle group in one day; instead, you might focus on a different muscle group over the course of 4 or 5 days. When you commit to completing one or two cleaning tasks daily, not only will your environment get clean, but you will add structure and purpose into your daily regimen. The key is keeping your to-do list as manageable and realistic as possible. Remember, it’s not a competition; it’s growth.
Set a Timer
If you struggle to find the motivation to clean, try setting a timer. Timing your sessions can help with a variety of things: it keeps you focused for the duration set while preventing you from developing compulsive urges to clean for extended periods of time. Even though a few minutes might not seem like enough, completing laborious tasks under time constraints will prevent you from viewing them as chores while providing all the benefits that come from cleaning.
Recovery is about incorporating practices into your day that promote self-growth. Among many other helpful tools, cleaning is easily one of the most essential. At Choice House, we work with men to help them develop the tools to support a well-rounded and lasting recovery. We accomplish this by offering both conventional and alternative care approaches to meet your individual needs. Our treatment facilities and sober living communities focus on structure and behaviors that reinforce responsibility, self-confidence, and self-growth. Our outdoor adventure therapy programs will help you face real-world scenarios that you can apply to your everyday life. We also remain a point of contact throughout your recovery to help you with individual or family challenges. With 24/7 admissions, there is never a wrong time to seek treatment. If you or a loved one need help, call Choice House today at (720) 577-4422.