There is a science to clutter and chaos, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Researchers have suggested that clutter, as well as a lack of organisation does more to our psyche and general wellbeing than initially thought. The team at Princeton University used functional MRI and other techniques to track how the brain responded to clutter or overstimulation – caused by chaos and unorganised mess.
Dr Sarah McKay, an Australian neuroscientist stated that the reason for this, came down to the way our brain processes information. When there are multiple channels of information all competing for the same amount of recognition, our brain can become overwhelmed and overstimulated.
“When objects were grouped rather than scattered, there was less competition between brain areas,” McKay explained.
“Or in other words, visual chaos makes it harder to focus because the brain is trying to process too many information streams.”
In 2013, a study was conducted by researches at the University of Minnesota, where participants were asked to enter either a tidy room or a cluttered room. The researches then tracked the behaviours of the participants and found that the effects transcended purely physical reactions.
Those who spent time in the tidy room were more likely to pick the healthier option when asked to choose between an apple or a piece of chocolate for a snack. Their surroundings were also found to have affected their benevolence, with those surrounded by tidiness donating twice as much money to charity, when given the option.
Even some of the simplest acts, like keeping your bedroom tidy, can have the greatest effects on our wellbeing. According to the National Sleep Foundation in the US, those who routinely existed in a peaceful, clean and decluttered bedroom recorded higher levels of sleep, compared to those who slept in a messy room.
“Quite simply, being organised gives you more time for the things you want to do – cooking, exercising, family time, taking a bath – you time. That’s very important to mental health,” says personal organiser Kerri Rodley.
“To put it another way, decluttering is the number one step in the feng shui process because, if energy can’t flow freely, nothing else can begin to improve,”
Interested in decluttering your own life? Check out our tips from top decluttering expert – Marie Kondo – here.