Sweeping Away Anxiety: Why Cleaning Can Help


Woman Mopping

Have you ever noticed that feeling of relief you get when your home is clean? Or the empowering emotions that roll through your body as you vacuum the floor, or clean out the closet? It is not necessarily that you like cleaning, let’s be honest nobody really enjoys the cleaning process. It’s more about how cleaning makes us feel. 

For anxiety and depression sufferers, cleaning is something we have control over. Unlike the burdensome emotions we are often faced with or the day-to-day stressors that leave us feeling overwhelmed—cleaning is something constructive and positive that we can do to take back control of our lives. It is a way to transform our environment and prepare ourselves for what may come our way. 

Organize Your Life

Organizing our environment is a way of organizing our lives, and sorting things out in our brains. It makes things less chaotic and helps us see them in simpler terms. It helps us to work through anxious feelings.

On the opposite spectrum, think about a messy home, a cluttered closet. Think about that over-flowing sink, crumbs on the floor, laundry stacked in the corner. For many people this environment produces negative feelings. These things are reminders of our overflowing to-do lists that just leave us feeling buried and unsure of where to start. They make us feel out-of-control, leading to anxious and even depressed feelings. 

Make A Safe Space

A decluttered space can feel like a safe space. There is a great sense of calm that can come from knowing exactly where things are in your home, in your closet, or even on your computer. 

Now, that is not to say that all cleaning is healthy cleaning. In extreme cases, compulsive cleaning behavior can be an indication of a more serious condition. Obsession over germs or having things in perfect symmetrical order can be signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If that is something you are concerned about then it is strongly encouraged that you seek help from a licensed mental health professional. 

But, if cleaning or organizing is something that you turn to when your day is stressful, that’s ok. It can be a productive, helpful way to get your mind back to a good place and to regain a handle on whatever stressors you are faced with. It can be a healthy coping mechanism. An organized home can lead to a more organized mind.

Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC

Alison is the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice in Salunga (East Hempfield), PA. She loves helping clients find practical solutions to improve their lives and her therapy is cooking. She can be reached at: alison@moveforwardlancaster.com.