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Closet Blog: Reduce Stress by Organizing Your Closet

Understanding Mess Causes Stress & What to Do About It

It's a known fact that living in a cluttered or messy environment causes stress. This has been proven by researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute. In their study Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex, scientists note:

The strength of attentional modulation in the visual system is constrained by the degree to which competitive interactions have been resolved by bottom-up processes related to the segmentation of scenes into candidate objects.

In plain English, our "unresolved competitive interactions" — piles of bills waiting to be paid, email needing an answer, laundry that needs to be put away, children's school papers that need to be sorted, all sorts of collections of "stuff" that sits out because we just don't know what to do with it — causes us to become frazzled and unable to focus clearly. It is a constant drain on our concentration and productivity. The brain processes all the visual clutter as unresolved tasks that need to be done. The constant nagging on our brains will drain any person of energy, making us tired and stressed out. In some people, it may even lead to depression, insomnia and serious health issues.

Our first impulse on solving this issue may be to simply use the delete button or throw it all out. Let the landfill worry about what to do with all our stuff. Life in the twenty first century is complicated, however, and many things can't simply be discarded — we can't throw away our clothing after each wearing because we don't want to deal with laundry; not all email is spam; your child's school may actually need a response to those papers; if you throw away your bills rather than paying them, critical services will be cut off. Much of our clutter are things that must be delt with in some way.

It can be difficult to sort through all the distractions and mess when the brain is already stressed. Help in clearing out the clutter is readily available, however, from a myriad of self-help or professional sources. There are plenty of books and articles to help you take action on your clutter in every library and bookstore. Most home improvement stores sell drawer dividers or organizers of some nature that can help us keep our homes orderly. For those who need more than the gentle nudge from a self-help source, there are professionals specifically trained in space management. Organization professionals and/or closet designers have the skills and resources to design a custom organization system that can banish the clutter quickly and efficiently, allowing your brain to relax.

Whether you start with the bedroom, the kitchen, family room, kid space, garage or other — most American homes can benefit from quality home organization systems.

Americans, in general, have a lot of "stuff." We live in a material culture and tend to accumulate many possessions over time. All of this translates into more things to cause stress.

THE BENEFITS OF CLOSET ORGANIZATION ON THE BRAIN'S ABILITY TO RELAX INCLUDE:

  1. Your things are much more likely to be put away after use. Having custom built ins in your closet makes the job of putting things away much, much easier. Having established that mess equals stress, it follows that keeping everything neatly put away will reduce the stress. The endless cycle of selecting your clothes each morning, hanging them back up or putting them into some type of laundry storage at night, sorting out the dirty ones by color and washing them on the weekend, then folding, sorting and putting away the clean ones so that they are ready to select again each morning is greatly streamlined when all possessions have their own convenient, designated place to stay at all times.
  2. An organized closet will store more clothing. The more that can be put away means less will be left out as a mess. Even the most basic closet organization systems available for purchase will include more storage per square foot than your standard closet. Specialized areas for different lengths of garments in combination with additional shelving equal greater capacity.
  3. Up, up and away with the mess — A closet organization system makes better use of vertical space for storage. A standard closet usually just consists of a rod with a single shelf above it. Space above the shelf is generally left unused in most closets. An organized closet makes use of this vertical space for additional storage either through double hang clothing sections or additional shelving and built in drawers.
  4. Out of sight, out of mind! Your brain will be better able to relax and focus when everything is put away. There is a sense of completeness and feelings of a job well done when your home or work space is in order.
  5. An organized closet makes it easier to find things quickly without effort. Clutter by contrast, frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need (e.g. that scarf, tie or perfect accessory is missing, but you know you have it somewhere — you love it and would never throw it out).
  6. Your children will be more independent. Parenting in and of itself can be exhausting. However, your children will be better able to pick up after themselves and retrieve things they want or need without your help when an organization system is installed. As an added benefit, good habits started early will usually last a lifetime.
  7. Clean means serene. A clean, uncluttered home is a happier home. Guilt over leaving things undone (the piles) dissipates and you will have more quality time to spend with loved ones — or on simply treating yourself to your favcorite activities.

The benefits of organizing your closet cannot be underestimated. A clean closet leads to a more relaxed brain which is less stressed, more productive, happier and healthier. In our busy lives, just about everyone could use a little of that.


Closet Works is Chicagolands' largest and most experienced provider of custom storage solutions. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners by creating custom closets, pantries, bookcases and more to help organize their lives. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our custom organization solutions can be found throughout this webite. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-4-CLOSET (800-425-6738).