Do you often feel that you’re walking on thin ice and about to explode? Just tidy up your house. Clutter in the house leads to anxiety and anger issues that can stress you out, affect your relationships, warn experts!
Here’s a story from one of the Capital’s leading psychologists. A client came to him citing anger issues on a day-to-day basis leading to road rage incidents, which distressed him. “I’m not an angry person, but this has been happening of late,” he said. After a few sittings to figure out his daily activities, the psychologist asked him to make his bed every morning, and ensure the house -especially the kitchen, bath room and wardrobes in every room -was tidy before he left for the day. In a month, he was a calmer person. We live in extremely stressful times.But most of the time, the triggers of our anxiety and rage are unknown to us. We may think it’s the guy driving ahead who’s changed lanes without indicating, or a colleague who just doesn’t get the point. While these may add to the stress, the real reason for your anger lies at home: a cluttered house.
An overstuffed wardrobe, dishes in the sink, unmopped bathroom floor, are all triggers that send our mind in a tizzy early in the morning. It’s a downward spiral from there on. Experts say that clutter is nothing more than just stagnant energy. Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty says, “The sight of unorganised and unused furniture, books and other articles causes a sense of heaviness inside the brain, leading to irritability, anger and tired ness. It negatively affects people living with you and your relationship with them. In fact, clutter is one of the major causes of marital distress, even divorce.” A study by the University of California (UCLA) recently revealed that clutter has a deeply negative impact on our mood and self-esteem. Researchers at the Prince ton University too found out that physical clutter negatively affects our ability to focus and process information. Dr Sherrie Bourg Carter, psychologist and author of High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout, says “Clutter bombards our mind with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t important.” It doesn’t let our brain rest, and leaves us with the feeling that work will never be complete.
Also, Indians are a sentimental lot. We aren’t still comfortable with the concept of use-and-throw things like the West. From an old radio to your mother’s kitchen blender; from unused remotes to clothes that you wore in your teens, they are all stored even as your cupboard overflows, making the brain feel `stuffocated’. Trend forecaster and author of Stuffocation, James Wallman coined this term to describe the feeling you get when you have to fight through piles of stuff you don’t use to find that one thing you need. People suffering from `stuffocation’ often believe that happiness comes from possessions.
Explains Dr Shetty, “It’ easy to get attached to thing because you’ve had them for a long time. A lot of people collect bus tickets, gift wrappers, greeting cards due to a sentimental connection. They look at it as recapitulating memories.”
AFRAID OF EMPTINESS?
According to SBS Surendran, Feng Shui and Vaastu expert, “Every physical object around us produces a corresponding effect, either good or bad. The smallest change in these objects’ arrangements can spell the difference between success and failure. Good energy gets stuck due to clutter. Get the stuck `chi’ (energy) –within us and around us -flowing again by re moving clutter.”
Another reason for anxiety issues rising out of clutter is our space-crunched world. When needs are squeezed to fit the size of tiny rooms, people subconsciously use their possessions to mark out their territory. Any perceived violation of this space by anyone causes major friction.
So, how does one learn to get rid of clutter, or understand the importance of clearing junk in our stressed lives?
Psychotherapist Seema Hingorrany suggests a simple solution. “Communicate. If you notice your partner is sentimentally attached to some thing, you must never throw it away in his/her absence. Do the `chucking out’ activity together.”
Ma Naina Osho explains why decluttering our mind is of prime importance. “The nature of the mind is such that it clings to things and hoards.It’s afraid of any kind of void, hence the misery,” she says. But what people fail to understand is that emptiness is not a negative. She adds, “In meditation, an empty state of mind (shunyata) is essential. Likewise, when we empty our room, nothing visible is left inside; but something invisible starts filling it – a sense of spaciousness. When we remove everything we’re attached to, the mind becomes empty but opens up. Decluttering brings abundance.”
WILL YOU TAKE THE 30-DAY DECLUTTER CHALLENGE?
Award-winning journalist Victoria Lambert took the “30-day declutter challenge”, a plan to help divest her home of clutter. It’s simple: On Day 1, you chuck one item, on Day 2, two items, on Day 3, three items and so on… till Day 30. By the end of 30 days, you’ll lose a staggering 465 items of household clutter! Take pictures of your clutter everyday, showing all the debris you had filled your home with. The beauty of the 30-day challenge is to give chucking out (which many people find difficult) a sense of purpose.