Life & Beauty Weekly: Health

By Jennifer Nelson for Life & Beauty Weekly

Your messy piles and filled-to-the-brim junk drawers might seem innocent enough. But having a cluttered house can actually make you sick!

Some things are obvious health threats: Loads of knickknacks collect allergy-aggravating dust, and toys and sports equipment lying on the floor are accidents waiting to happen. But clutter can affect your well-being in other ways too — for instance, the anxiety that arises when you can’t find the bills on your desk.

Karl Lohnes, home and décor expert on CTV’s Canada AM, says it’s simply impossible to be your healthiest self in a disorganized space. Here are four of the biggest home clutter traps. Get them in order and feel better fast!

Clutter Trap: Home Office Desk

  • Health Woes: Anxiety symptoms like sleeplessness, headaches and excess stomach acid
  • Culprit: Piles of unsorted papers and mail mean incurring late fees or even forgetting about your BFF’s upcoming bridal shower.
  • Mindset: Think about what’s going on in your life that’s making it hard to keep things orderly. “Piles of paper and files equates to confusion and disorganization,” Lohnes says.
  • Strategy: Start small. Your inbox doesn’t have to be empty, but you should be able to find a pen and paper if someone calls — and you need to establish a place for important papers. Set 15 to 30 minutes to work on one corner of the desk at a time and repeat until complete. Then, set a rule to not let paper sit around for more than a couple of days: pay it, answer it, file it or toss it.

Clutter Trap: Bedroom Closet

  • Health Woes: Low self-esteem, weight gain
  • Culprit: Keeping clothes a size too small means that you’re not accepting yourself as you are. And hanging on to larger sizes sends the subconscious signal that you might gain weight in the future — and if you can’t find your workout clothes in the mess, it just might happen!
  • Mindset: “Being reminded of a smaller size that you once were will only lower your self-esteem,” Lohnes says. “You are essentially reminding yourself how slim you used to be instead of telling yourself that you still look great even at a larger size.”
  • Strategy: “Categorize your clothing seasonally for one week’s worth of outfits,” Lohnes says. “Pull together your favourite outfits for work and casual wear — 14 outfits, 14 hangers. Then promise to toss at least half of everything else in the closet.”

Clutter Trap: Kitchen

  • Health Woes: Weight gain, tummy troubles
  • The Culprit: If you can’t find the whole-grain products in your pantry or the crock pot in the cabinets, it’s easier to reach for the chicken nuggets than to cook something healthy. Is your fridge full of food that’s past its expiry date? Then you’re risking a nasty case of food poisoning.
  • Mindset: “An unorganized kitchen pantry creates visual confusion, which usually means grabbing the most convenient, unhealthy things to cook,” Lohnes says.
  • Strategy: Enlist a supportive friend or relative to help get your kitchen in order. Take “before” and “after” pictures as a reminder of your success. Then, make it a point to clean your refrigerator weekly and toss the leftovers.

Clutter Trap: Living Room

  • Health Woes: Accidents, depression
  • The Culprit: If you can’t walk through the room without tripping over something, it’s a health hazard. And if you’ve stopped having guests over because you don’t want them seeing the mess, you’re isolating yourself.
  • Mindset: “Dribbling your collections around the house only creates a visual mess,” Lohnes explains.
  • Strategy: Lohnes suggests you try and group all collectibles on one table, one wall or one cabinet. “Grouping your collections creates a big impact in a concentrated space,” he says. In addition, you can box up the knickknacks, art and books you no longer love and store them in the garage for a year. (Mark the calendar!) If you don’t miss or need them after that time, donate or sell them.

Jennifer Nelson
is a Florida-based writer who writes about lifestyle and health issues for many publications and websites, including
Prevention, and

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