Marie Kondo may be on to something with her best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and subsequent Netflix series. Cleaning really can have benefits that go beyond just having a clean home. Spring cleaning can be an act of self care instead of a chore, especially when you realize just how many health benefits it has to offer.
Here’s how a little cleanliness and organization can work double time for you.
If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal allergies , it may not only be pollen that is responsible for those sneezing fits. Dust, mildew, mold, pet dander and even bugs can be big immune system triggers for people prone to allergies , and cluttered homes tend to gather a lot of these pollutants during the winter months. Many scientists and environmental experts claim that the pollution inside your home can often be worse than outdoor air pollution.
The best way to reduce the build up of these immune system disruptors in your home is to regularly vacuum your carpets, furniture and upholstery and clean out potentially damp areas such as bathrooms, basements and garages regularly. A 2014 study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunity found that cleaning your home and decluttering your space can help you avoid allergy symptoms and make you feel healthier.
The physical act of cleaning may turn your brain off for a bit to allow you to relax your mind, some experts say. So while cleaning may seem like a repetitive, mindless task, that may actually be just what your brain needs to de-stress. Not to mention, eliminating external clutter may help you free yourself from internal mental clutter. Studies have also shown that doing housework for as little as 20 minutes can reduce your stress and anxiety by up to 20 percent . To help you de-stress faster, try cleaning products with calming scents like lavender or eucalyptus.
Cleaning can even become a way to practice mindfulness if approached with intentionality and awareness, found research in the journal Mindfulness . When people washed the dishes after reading a passage about mindful dishwashing by the poet and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, they were more relaxed and at ease than dishwashers who did not read the passage.
Regular exercise can lower the risk for the development of many chronic illnesses including heart disease. Even low-intensity physical activities like household chores come with heart-healthy benefits. On average 30 minutes of vacuuming can burn up to 111 calories for men and 94 calories for women, increasing your heart rate and supporting physical activity goals. People who keep their homes clean also tend to be more driven to invest in their overall physical fitness, an important aspect of heart health in general. A 2017 study conducted in Sweden found that sitting for just 30 minutes or less per day was associated with a decreased risk of fatal cardiovascular events. If you’re looking for an easy way to support your heart health, just 30 minutes per day of light exercise (including vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing floors) can decrease your risk of heart disease by 24 percent.
Think of your bedroom like your own private sleep oasis and treat it as such. People who make their beds regularly are 19 percent more likely to sleep well on a regular basis. A poll conducted by The National Sleep Foundation also found that 75 percent of those polled sleep better on clean sheets with a fresh scent. So if you’re having trouble sleeping at night , clear the clutter from your bedroom, change your sheets, and even try a natural room spray.
The nature of clutter in your direct environment has significant effects on your ability to focus. When you are less distracted by the chaos that surrounds you or the extra things piled up in your home, you actually free up mental space that allows you to concentrate on any given task more fully. A study in 2011 from The Journal of Neuroscience confirmed this using MRI’s to track the brain’s response to cleanliness and found that more clutter significantly limits the brain’s processing capacity. Therefore, decreasing the clutter can decrease distractions and increase your overall productivity make for a much shorter to-do list.
While not everyone loves the process of cleaning itself, the end result can leave most feeling extremely satisfied. A neat and tidy, fresh smelling home can naturally boost endorphins in the brain and improve energy levels. One study revealed that having a clean home provided positive short-term and long-term benefits for mental health including immediate improved mood and overall reduced the risk for depression .
Good habits beget more good habits! Cleaning your environment and feeling more organized at home can naturally play into “cleaning” up other aspects of your life including your diet, exercise routine, and sleep habits. Specifically, a study from 2013 conducted at the University of Minnesota found that when people were put in a clean and orderly space, they were more likely to choose healthier food options than those placed in a cluttered environment. Spring cleaning doesn’t just have to be about your physical space—switch up your workout routine by taking your yoga practice outside into the fresh air, plan a weekend hike with friends, and move from the treadmill to the trails. Spring is a time of renewal, so what better time to switch things up?
Photo courtesy of UnSplash .
Dr. Robin Berzin is the Founder and CEO of Parsley Health, America's leading holistic medical practice designed to help women overcome chronic conditions. She founded Parsley to address the rising tide of chronic disease in America through personalized holistic medicine that puts food, lifestyle, and proactive diagnostic testing on the prescription pad next to medications. Since founding Parsley in 2016, Dr. Berzin has seen 80% of patients improve or resolve their chronic conditions within their first year of care, demonstrating the life-changing value of making modern holistic medicine accessible to everyone, anywhere. Parsley is available online nationwide.
Dr. Berzin attended medical school at Columbia University and trained in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Her book, Prescription for Happiness: How to Eat, Move, and Supplement for Peak Mental Health, was published by Simon Element in January 2022.