Do You Have a Congestion Problem?

If you have to move objects to complete a task at home or in the office or feel overwhelmed by all your tasks, this is a strong sign that clutter has prevailed. And it might stress you more than you realize.

"Clutter is an overabundance of goods that collectively create chaotic and messy living spaces," said Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at Chicago's DePaul University. the causes of congestion and its impact on emotional wellbeing. And researchers are learning that cluttered homes can be stressful.

Dr. Ferrari was part of a research team that interviewed three groups of adults about congestion and life satisfaction: students; young adults in their twenties and thirties; and older adults, most in their fifties.

The authors evaluated the tendency of volunteers to procrastinate, asking them to respond to statements such as "I pay bills on time" on a five-point scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agreement. Procrastination is closely related to clutter because sorting and throwing items is a task that many people find unpleasant and that they avoid.

Researchers also measured the general well-being of participants in relation to how crowding could affect their lives. answering questions such as "the mess in my house upsets me" and "I have to move things to be able to do chores in my house".

The study published in Current Psychology revealed a substantial link between procrastination and congestion problems in all age groups. Frustration with clutter tended to increase with age. Among older adults, congestion problems were also associated with life dissatisfaction.

The findings of the investigation add to a growing body of evidence indicating that crowding can have a negative impact on mental well-being, particularly among women. The disorder can also induce a physiological response, including increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology focused on dual-earner married couples living in the Los Angeles area who had at least one school-aged child at home. Wives participating in the study who considered themselves to be congested or in need of work tended to have high levels of cortisol throughout the day. Those who did not feel congested, which included most men in the study, had cortisol levels that tended to drop during the day.

Darby Saxby, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, conducted the study. The main author, said the women in the study who described their home as congested or in need of work had started their day stressed and were left with it. She suspects that some of the extra stress was related to women's tendency to take on chores and do extra work after the shift. In terms of cortisol levels, men doing more housework in the evening were as likely as women to have increased cortisol levels by the end of the day. It's just that fewer men spent as much time cleaning up as their wives, she said.

In a follow-up study, Dr. Saxbe studied the level of cortisol in the afternoon and evening. At a time when stress was to decrease "in the path of adaptive recovery". All the people participating in the study were not disturbed by the shoes left in the staircase nor by the stacked mail on the coffee table. But again, women were more likely than men to complain about congestion or too many unfinished projects, and did not experience a reduction in cortisol.

"The people who talked about it were those who had the answer to cortisol."

Experts begin to understand why clutter can cause such a strong emotional response.

Dr. According to Saxbe, there has long been a standard representation on the appearance and operation of a middle-class home. A disorderly home does not meet this expectation.

"If you think about the ideals of single-family homes in the 1950s," said Dr. Saxbe. "The man comes home, gets up and takes a cocktail. The house is a place to go home and relax. But not if the house is full of a to-do list and tedious tasks. "

Controlling the management of decluttering work is a task that many residents of cluttered residences have trouble controlling.


Dr. Ferrari pointed out that Clutter is also often the result of "over-attachment" to our personal belongings, which makes it difficult to separate them.For older people who wish to declutter, he recommends an unobstructed approach.

"If you want to unclutter your screen, do not touch the object." Do not take it, he said. "Ask someone to hold the black pants and say," Do you need it? " "Once you've hit the object, you're less likely to get rid of it."

Another option is to make a conscious effort to acquire less. argues that most of what we accumulate is not necessary e. "We took our needs and we were told they were needs," he said.

Dr. Saxbe agreed that a good way to declutter is to keep objects out of the house. She urged buyers to ask themselves if they really need an item or if it will add to the feeling of dysfunction in their home. "Once in the house, it's really difficult to manage. You are attached to your property, "she said.