Read the blog post: Tips to Spruce up Your Yard
Benefit 1: It’s good for your health
We have all by now at least heard of Marie Kondo and the philosophies she shared in her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and in her wildly popular Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. There is a reason Marie’s message has struck such a chord with so many people – it is a message grounded in truth. Whether you are a neat freak who loves nothing more than giving a room a quick spritz, or a clean-o-phobe for whom the very sight of a mop and bucket sends you into a cold sweat, it cannot be denied: A clean and tidy living space is a lot healthier than a dingy domicile.
In fact, considering cleaning as an act of self-care, rather than a boring chore, is a great way to approach the process. Set aside a weekend (or two), get your family members involved, crank some tunes, and have a fun, liberating experience!
The act of cleaning itself is a repetitive task that gives your brain something simple to focus on and your mind a break from the daily bombardment of work, life and social media. Sometimes, so-called mindless tasks are exactly what your brain needs in order to de-stress and refresh. In fact, studies show that as little as 20 minutes of housework can reduce stress and anxiety by as much as 20 per cent.
It comes down to mindfulness. In today’s busy, technology-driven world, we so rarely take the time to slow down and focus on something straightforward. We are always looking for the next notification to check, while rushing to the next appointment, or scratching off the next note on our never-ending to-do lists. When we focus on simple, repetitive tasks, we bring ourselves back into the moment, making the act of cleaning less mindless and more mindful.
And if you think it’s just your mind that’s getting a once over – not so! Your heart stands to benefit, too. Low-intensity exercise, like housework, increases your heart rate and gives you a decent little workout. In fact, just 30 minutes of the kind of light exercise involved in tasks such as vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing floors can decrease your risk of heart disease by over 20 per cent. Not convinced? Next time you find yourself scrubbing that bathtub, notice your elevated heart rate, heavy breathing, and, is that a bead or two of sweat forming on your forehead?! That’s not housework, it’s a houseworkout!
Benefit 2: It’s really good for your health!
So, you rolled up your sleeves, pulled on those Marigolds, and got in several hours of muscle-strengthening, heart health-supporting, mindfulness-enhancing scrubbing. That’s where the health benefits end – right? Nope – not nearly! The health-giving advantages of cleaning extend well beyond the mopping and dusting itself.
Let’s be honest: The only time fresh air got into your home during those long winter months was for the split second it took you to walk in through the door at night, and even then you were pushing with all your might to keep that cold, frosty air on the outside of your home! So, yeah, it may be time to crack open a few windows and let that place air out a little.
Here’s something that might surprise (and possibly disgust) you: According to scientists, the air inside your home is often more polluted than the air outside your home. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency says the top five air quality problems in the U.S. are all indoor air problems. Pollutants commonly found inside the home include VOCs (volatile organic compounds), pesticides, viruses and bacteria. They lurk in places like plant pots, rugs, carpets and fabrics.
Furthermore, moisture in the home can be responsible for the three malicious m’s: mold, mildew and dust mites, all of which can contribute to asthma and allergies. High indoor humidity can also lead to the release of toxins from furniture or cleaning products, as well as creating an uncomfortable cold and clammy feeling in the home. Consider chemical-free or natural cleaning products and a dehumidifier if your home has that damp, muggy feel.
As you can see, beyond all the psychological benefits, there are big advantages to be gained by a good house cleaning to protect your physical health and wellbeing.
Did you know..?
Your appliances are healthier when they are cleaner, too! Dust and dirt build-up are an appliance’s worst enemies, leading to issues requiring repair or replacement, and reducing their lifespan. Be sure to include appliances in your cleaning plans to save yourself an inconvenience and money down the road.
Benefit 3: Declutter – your home, and your head!
“The things you own, end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club
Tyler Durden may have been the imaginary friend of a fictional character, with some very questionable philosophies about life but, oh boy, did he have this one right!
Firstly, physical clutter. Trinkets and knickknacks, whatnots and bric-a-brac. The things you just had to have that you soon don’t even know where to find. It’s easy to fall prey to the lure of the latest gadget or gear, and sometimes hard to let go when that object of your former affections loses its appeal. Many of us will have that spare room, basement or garage where it’s easy to throw things and just forget about them. Every single one of us has a drawer or cabinet in our home filled with utter junk!*
*Not proven by science. But we bet it easily could be!
There comes a point where this physical clutter just gets in the way. Maybe the in-laws are coming in for the weekend, but that spare room couldn’t accommodate a small rodent, let alone a couple of fully grown humans. Perhaps you want to bring the car inside, or use your garage or basement as a rec room space, except the thought of clearing out the junk it houses fills you with dread. It’s time to declutter your space and open up new possibilities with your home.
Next, there’s the mental clutter. Most people these days seem to agree that true fulfillment can’t be attained through amassing material possessions, yet we still live in a society where more seems to be more. Lawn decorations, patio furniture, ATVs, cars – heck, even cottages, cabins or summer homes. Sure, things can be nice to have, but there is always a limit.
What’s more, the relative ease of being granted credit these days can cause people to overextend. Suddenly, all those material possessions and the associated monthly payments really start to add up and it becomes a real slog just to cover the bills.
Psychologically, all those things that were supposed to bring you joy are in fact sucking the pleasure out of life and hanging like a particularly plump albatross around your neck. Material possessions, in short, can make you miserable.
Purge, polish and purify! You may find that a decluttered home and mind will lead to a more habitable living space and a more fulfilling life.
Read the blog post: Downsizing Purge - What Not to Get Rid Of
Benefit 4: You’ll be move-ready when you want to leave
Have you ever moved house? Most of us have, at least one time in our lives. Did you enjoy it? Most of us would say no. Quite apart from the emotional toil (moving is considered among the top most stressful life events, right up there with bereavement and divorce) moving house can involve physical strain and creates extra red tape for you to untangle.
Probably best, then, not to add to the upheaval. If you have lived in your home a while and are now considering a move, you’ll be a whole lot happier if you’ve spent the preceding years keeping on top of the kipple*.
If you have a garage full of garbage or a spare room packed with odds and ends, take a moment to consider the work involved in not only sorting through that little lot, but then adding a move on top of it. Oftentimes, people will give in, pack all the junk into a load more boxes, and carry their burdensome junk on with them to the next place.
Ultimately, every big task becomes easier when broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks, and this is certainly true of cleaning, purging and sorting. Doing it on the regular will help keep down that kipple, making moving a (relative) breeze.
*Kipple is what legendary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick called the sinister little pieces of junk and rubbish that would gradually build up in a dwelling over time. Eventually, without human intervention, Dick speculated that the whole world would one day fall victim to a state of complete kipplization!
Benefit 5: You’ll be happier in the meantime!
But wait! What if we’re not ready to move yet? Perhaps we’re a year or two away from securing financing. Maybe we can’t downsize till the youngest flies the nest (and who knows when that might be?!) Does that make it okay to amass copious amounts of rubbish and bask in the questionable odour of our uncleaned abode?
Sorry, afraid not. Staying ahead of the cleaning and on top of the clutter is about much more than just being able to make a quick escape when the stars align and you’re ready to move on to that new home. It’s about big things like your health and happiness.
The act of cleaning can improve your mood. Even if you don’t buy into the therapeutic mindfulness that can be mined from the process itself, most would agree that the feeling having gotten it done is pretty great. There’s nothing quite like finishing that last stroke of a cloth or sweep of a brush, then standing back to admire the gleaming, airy rewards of your sweat and elbow grease. In fact, coupled with the fresh smell, the experience boosts endorphin production in your brain and ups your energy levels. Longer-term, having a clean home has been proven to benefit mental health and reduce the risk of depression. Talk about a clean start!
That really is only the beginning, though. Studies support the adage that good habits beget good habits. One U.S. study measured the effects of an orderly room versus a disorderly room on participants’ food choices and charitability. Those in the tidier, more organized space tended to go for healthier snacks than those in the messy space, while monetary donations were higher among those in the neat environment. It was suggested, however, that creativity increased in the disorderly space. (Just don’t tell your bass-playing teenage nephew!)
In summary, the majority of people (pubescent would-be songwriters with questionable hygiene aside) benefit greatly from a bit of house cleaning. So, toss that kipple. Buff those tabletops. Breathe in the just-cleaned aroma and let the endorphins flow! And don’t limit the cleaning to your home – use your reinvigorated space as inspiration to start a new workout routine (now, you’ll have room for it!)