A Clean, Organized Space Can Actually Boost Your Mental Health

Sally Augustin, Ph.D. (author of Designology) explains the connection, or rather, the direct relationship between organization and mood.

mental health and cleaning

WINNIE AU

The connection between mental health and cleaning is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situash. We all know from firsthand experience how a neater apartment can make it easier to feel more in control and optimistic, but anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other stressors can make doing it feel insurmountable.

The connection between mood and organization is a key to Sally Augustin, Ph.D. Through her practice, Design With Science, she applies psychological findings to helping people create healthier, more functional spaces (um, sign us up!). Helping people achieve that clean feeling with minimal angst is also the goal of Scotch-Brite™ Brand’s line of easy-to-use products that clean quickly, so you can get back to enjoying your life. Read on for Dr. Augustin’s practical ways to get over your dang cleaning dread—and examples of how a tidy home can improve your overall ~vibes~.

YOUR CLEAN (OR DIRTY) HOME SENDS A MESSAGE

one step sprah yoga
WINNIE AU

The subliminal messages your home projects have major implications—a clean apartment telegraphs posi vibes even when you’re not thinking about it directly. And this might seem obvi, but what your friends think of your home can also have a big impact on your mental health. “The areas of your life under your control send important nonverbal signals to you and everybody who sees them. When you present a home that seems tidy, visitors will take away that message that you lead an orderly life, and that will positively reinforce those aspects of your identity. You get a psychological boost from feeling proud of yourself.”

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On the flip side, some of the biggest sources of internal stress or outward embarrassment can be messes like grimy, often-used surfaces like doorknobs and yucky smells in the air, or on items you take out in public, like yoga mats. A few spritzes of Scotch-Brite One Step Disinfectant and Cleaner can handle all of the above easily—it’s a 5-in-1 secret weapon that cleans, sanitizes, disinfects, degreases, and deodorizes.

STARK SPACES ARE OVERRATED

With #minimalism still hanging on as a trend, you might think bare-bones decor is the best thing for your mood. But Dr. Augustin recommends striking a healthy balance of objects to empty space. “A place that has a lot going on visually stresses us out, which links to your mental and physical well-being,” she says. “But spaces that are stark are also very alien and stressful. Research shows that places with moderate visual complexity are best.”

To achieve this, Dr. Augustin says you don’t have to ditch all those party snapshots and cute lil’ throw pillows—just store some of your stuff in a box under the bed or in the closet and swap items out to keep your space from feeling too much.

TIMERS REALLY DO WORK

Your brain is a complex ~puzzle~ that gets even harder to solve when you’re dealing with depression or neurodivergent diagnoses like ADHD. To battle that overwhelming feeling, Dr. Augustin thinks simple timers really do work at helping you commit to cleaning. “If you set a limit there’s a much lower threshold to entry. It’s also amazing how much progress you can make in ten or 25 minutes, which provides positive reinforcement,” she says.

Another one of her tips? Identify what’s important to you and focus on it. If a messy bed really gets ya down, make a point of at least straightening up your sheets and pillows—but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, so be honest with yourself about your priorities.

IT PAYS OFF TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

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Similar to the timer idea, keeping your cleaning supplies stocked and at the ready can also grease the wheels of progress. Shower buildup can be a biggie when it comes to your mood, since it affects what’s supposed to be a refreshing self-care moment.

Keep a Scotch-Brite® Swift Scrub Bathroom Buildup Remover at arm’s reach so you can tackle a few small sections of tile while waiting for your deep conditioner to do it’s thang. Multitasking for the win!

SOOTHING COLOR SCHEMES ARE ~KEY~

Okay, this one bleeds a little into decor territory, but a uniform color scheme can help your place feel more visually organized. Color also has a huge impact on your mood, but Dr. Augustin explains that it’s not as simple as warm vs cool tones. “Certain hues like blue have cultural associations with rest and competence, which makes them a great choice for a bedroom.”

Aside from that, Dr. Augustin also points out that how bright a color is matters a ton. “Whether a color makes you feel relaxed or on edge has to do with saturation.” She recommends less saturated colors with lots of white in the mix, like periwinkle or sage green.

freshly made bed
WINNIE AU

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Designology

How to Find Your PlaceType and Align Your Life With Design

DESIGNOLOGY gives readers the tools they need to instantly understand themselves and how to work with the world around them. DESIGNOLOGY cuts through the fads of clutter and cleaning books and delivers the clear, uncomplicated truth about why we respond to certain spaces in certain ways, and how we can use colors, scents, and other sensory experiences to create spaces that serve our real needs. Sally Augustin delivers straightforward action plans we need to develop places where we can live our best lives.

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