The final part of the mini-series written for us by the truly incredible The Psychology Mum
I’ve looked at four aspects of the complex relationship between psychology and our home environment. But what kind of house makes us happy? There seems to be a growing belief that minimalism is better. While of course minimalism may be for the environment, the research seems to suggest it may be less about the absolute number of items we own and more about how these items are organised that’s important for how we feel (although of course, it is probably easier to be organised and reduce clutter if you have fewer items). Research on physical space suggests that crowded and cluttered environments can affect mood and health. Clutter may also make focusing on particular tasks more difficult: this makes sense as it takes up part of our cognitive capacity and maybe it harder to attend to what we need to. Further research found that women who described their living spaces as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative”.
The simple answer is that there is no right kind of house (although Marie Kondo may tell you otherwise). Whatever the research says, on an individual level if your house makes you happy and relaxed, no matter what it’s like, then it’s right for you. However, if your house makes you feel shameful, sad, anxious or generally rubbish, and it stops you doing the things you want to do, it may be worth considering what you can do to help change this. Just like people, the solutions are likely to be individual and vary in complexity. Tackling the problem is often not just not as simple as saying, or telling someone to, ’tidy up” or declutter, as the solution may be slightly different from one person to the next. However, if it’s going to improve your quality of life then it’s worth taking some time to think about what those steps would be for you and the barriers to achieving them.
**PLEASE NOTE**** if you are concerned about your mental health then please seek advice from a qualified professional.