Guest Writers for Wake Up World
With Spring just around the corner, it’s time for the age-old tradition of spring cleaning. And while clearing out the clutter and allowing that fresh spring air into your home can feel like a fresh start, there are also plenty of health benefits to be had.
Spring cleaning goes far beyond your home – it’s the perfect opportunity to reset your mind and body. Whether the benefits are physical, mental, or emotional, it’s never too late to get your year started on the right foot. Let’s look at some of the ways in which you can prepare your home for a healthy start to the new season.
1 | Immune Support
If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal allergies, it may not only be pollen that is responsible for those sneezing fits. Dust, mildew, mold, pet dander, and even bugs can be big immune system triggers for people prone to allergies, and cluttered homes tend to gather a lot of these pollutants during the winter months. Many scientists and environmental experts claim that the pollution inside your home can often be worse than outdoor air pollution.
The best way to reduce the build-up of these immune system disruptors in your home is to regularly vacuum your carpets, furniture, and upholstery and clean out potentially damp areas such as bathrooms, basements, and garages. A 2014 study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunity found that cleaning your home and decluttering your space can help you avoid allergy symptoms and make you feel healthier.
Beyond keeping allergies at bay, a clean house can help you breathe better by preventing respiratory issues and supporting a healthy immune system.
“Dust, mold, mildew, pet dander, and other things like this can be immune system triggers for people prone to allergies. When your house isn’t clean, it can gather pollutants — especially during the winter months,” says Dr. Adrian Cotton, chief of medical operations at Loma Linda University Health in California.
Here are some tips for cleaning to boost your immune system:
- While you should aim to clean regularly to avoid immune system triggers, spring-cleaning can be an opportunity for a deep clean, according to Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, an expert in public health and nutrition. “Dust the legs of furniture, tops of frames and mirrors, tops of lamps and lights, floor baseboards, railings, and windowsills that may be more out of reach,” she said.
- Thoroughly vacuum all rugs, floors, carpets, ceiling cobwebs, and curtains to eliminate dust and keep the air cleaner.
- Wash all bedding and blankets. Put pillows into the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any dust mites.
- Take off your shoes at the door to avoid carrying in dirt and dust from the outdoors throughout your home.
2 | Stress Reduction
Some experts say that the physical act of cleaning may turn your brain off for a bit to allow you to relax your mind. So, while cleaning may seem like a repetitive, mindless task, that may actually be just what your brain needs to de-stress. Not to mention that eliminating external clutter may help you free yourself from internal mental clutter. Studies have also shown that doing housework for as little as 20 minutes can reduce your stress and anxiety by up to 20 percent. To help you de-stress faster, try cleaning products with calming scents like lavender or eucalyptus.
Research in the journal Mindfulness found that cleaning can even become a way to practice mindfulness, if approached with intentionality and awareness. When people washed the dishes after reading a passage about mindful dishwashing by the poet and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, they were more relaxed and at ease than dishwashers who did not read the passage.
More clutter means more stress, so it shouldn’t be surprising that housework can cut stress and anxiety by 20 percent, according to a Scottish Health Survey. However, you do need 20 minutes of activity to get these effects. Using lemon-scented cleaning products can help you de-stress faster; studies show this happy smell reduces stress and leaves a positive impression on others.
Here are some pro tips for cleaning your house with real lemons:
- Cheese Grater – Run half of a lemon down the side of the grater to remove food particles, then rinse with warm, soapy water. The utensil gets cleaned, and your fingers are safe. You can use a lemon to clean grills the same way.
- Brass and Copper – Sprinkle salt (any kind) on half of a lemon and start scrubbing. Antiques can be tricky though—test this method on a small portion first to make sure you’re not causing any damage.
- Keep Your Laundry Bright – Soak cotton and polyester clothes in a lemon juice/water mixture (½ cup of juice per gallon of water) to bleach whites and brighten colors. Keep the clothes in for an hour or longer, depending on how much they need to be brightened, then dry them in the sun. You can also substitute a half cup of lemon juice for bleach when using a washing machine.
3 | Increased Productivity
Making the effort to declutter and organize your home or office can save you tons of time looking for or replacing lost items in the future. Organization experts say that this makes you more productive, while the cleaning process itself can increase energy levels.
Having an excess of things around you can be distracting and have a negative impact on your focus and productivity. Neuroscientists at Princeton University found that task performance increased in an organized versus disorganized environment. The study showed that the physical clutter in your environment competes for your attention, causing decreased productivity and increased stress.
When you are less distracted by the chaos that surrounds you or the extra things piled up in your home, you actually free up mental space that allows you to concentrate on any given task more fully. A study in 2011 from The Journal of Neuroscience confirmed this using MRIs to track the brain’s response to cleanliness and found that more clutter significantly limits the brain’s processing capacity. Therefore, decreasing the clutter can decrease distractions and increase your overall productivity, making for a much shorter to-do list.
4 | Healthy Sleep
Do you lie in bed and stare at your messy closet or that pile of laundry on the floor and feel stressed out by it? A sleep study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that people who doze in cluttered rooms are more likely to develop sleeping problems and are at higher risk for developing hoarding disorder.
It may help to think of your bedroom like your own private sleep oasis and treat it as such. People who make their beds regularly are 19% more likely to sleep well on a regular basis. A poll conducted by The National Sleep Foundation also found that 75 percent of those polled sleep better on clean sheets with a fresh scent. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, clear the clutter from your bedroom, change your sheets, and even try a natural room spray or essential oil diffuser.
5 | Allergy Relief
After keeping homes closed up during the winter, spring cleaning can be a welcome, refreshing activity. For people with indoor allergies, however, spring cleaning can be a necessity. Cleaning up your house can help reduce allergens and germs, give your home a fresh start for a new season, and alleviate feelings of cabin fever.
Here are some tips for reducing allergies as you clean:
- Monitor Humidity – Winter can make the air in your home dry, so many use humidifiers to add moisture back to the air. Monitor the humidity level in your home and keep levels below 50% to discourage mold growth and can help reduce dust mites. You can use a simple humidity meter to monitor levels and use a dehumidifier if needed. We also remember to use a vent fan to remove moisture in bathrooms and the kitchen.
- Change Your Furnace Filters – Once it’s warmed up outside, you may be tempted to throw open the windows and let in the fresh air. However, for those with allergies, it’s best to keep them closed to keep the pollen out. This means you may be switching on the AC. Your HVAC system can filter out any allergens (dust and pet dander) that are lurking in the air ducts through its filter. It’s best to change those filters every 90 days, so switching at the start of each new season is ideal.
- Spring Cleaning Your Pets – During the winter, your pets may be spending more time inside the home than usual. Bathing your dog or even cats can help reduce the amount of dander they leave behind; pet allergens are found in the saliva and dander of cats and dogs. It is also a common misconception that some breeds are allergy-free. It can also help to wash your hands with soap and water after petting your dog or cat to help keep symptoms from flaring. We recommend keeping pets out of bedrooms to reduce allergens where you sleep.
6 | Mood Booster
While not everyone loves the process of cleaning itself, the end result can leave most feeling extremely satisfied. A neat and tidy, fresh-smelling home can naturally boost endorphins in the brain and improve energy levels. One study revealed that having a clean home provided positive short-term and long-term benefits for mental health, including immediate improved mood and overall reduced the risk for depression.
A thorough house cleaning—and then keeping it that way—is one mood boost you’ll definitely want to make a habit. In a study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who described their homes as stressful, in particular, talking about clutter and unfinished projects, were more likely to have an increasingly depressed mood throughout the day. That, in turn, led to more fatigue after work. On the flip side, women who described their homes as relaxing (and less cluttered) became less depressed as the day went on.
7 | Natural Exercise
Indiana University researchers made a surprising discovery about the correlation between physical activity and cleanliness: The cleaner the participants’ homes were, the more exercise they got. Simply burning calories while cleaning is one explanation for the find, but this relationship could be connected to self-regulation, the ability to act in a way that drives you toward your goals. If individuals were motivated to take control of how clean their homes were, they may be able to use that drive in another area of their lives, like physical fitness.
And that physical exercise can have many bonus benefits…
8 | Improved Heart Health
Regular exercise can lower the risk for the development of many chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Even low-intensity physical activities like household chores come with heart-healthy benefits.
On average, 30 minutes of vacuuming can burn up to 111 calories for men and 94 calories for women, increasing your heart rate and supporting physical activity goals. People who keep their homes clean also tend to be more driven to invest in their overall physical fitness, an important aspect of heart health in general. A 2017 study conducted in Sweden found that sitting for only 30 minutes or less per day was associated with a decreased risk of fatal cardiovascular events.
If you’re looking for an easy way to support your heart health, just 30 minutes per day of light exercise (including vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing floors) can decrease your risk of heart disease by 24 percent.
9 | Better Focus
Do you work at a desk overflowing with papers? Is it difficult for you to focus without being distracted by or having to move some of your papers out of the way in order to complete a project? Having an excess of things around you can be distracting and have a negative impact on your focus and productivity. Those who make a point of clearing out the clutter once in a while are able to free up the brain for more essential decision-making, according to a study carried out by the founder of America’s Anxiety Disorder Center. A thorough clean helps to clear your mind of things that need to be done around the house and makes it easier to focus on other more important things.
Taking time to clear your mind through prayer and meditation is also important. Just as we need to clear the clutter in our homes, it’s important to clear the “clutter” in our minds. And scientists agree.
“Studies observing the effects of regular meditation on the brain, even after only two weeks, generally demonstrate improvement in cognition, especially executive functioning. These changes also affect the way our brains look and work, such as increases in size, activation, and functional connectivity,” says Dr. Joel Salinas, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
10 | Enhanced Mental Health
Whether you’re temporarily stuck indoors, work from home, or are having a tough time getting to sleep, your mental health can benefit from keeping your space tidy.
“You may very well find you think, feel, and sleep better with a clean, less cluttered space. Also, the process of sorting through items, reorganizing, and getting rid of the excess by tossing, donating, or recycling them can be mentally refreshing and liberating,” Bazilian told Healthline.
Studies have found that a relaxing and clutter-free home has a positive effect on people’s daily mood and ability to focus.
“When we clear clutter, it has the potential to clear our mental space and attention span,” noted Tricia Wolanin, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and organizing expert.
“I have had many clients mention that if there is mess within the home, they will continue to ruminate on the disarray that needs to be sorted versus focusing on a conversation or concentrating on anything else. When they clean their house, it begins to minimize their stress and sleep issues,” said.
Cleanliness and Godliness
You’ve probably heard that “cleanliness is next to godliness”. And although that isn’t in the Bible (it traces back to an old Babylonian proverb), there is no doubt that God calls us to be good stewards of our bodies and homes. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul asks “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”
Later, in Chapter 14, verse 33, he tells us that God is a God of peace and not disorder. Paul even goes so far as to say that “everything must be done decently and in order.” We were all created by design. Every molecule on earth was carefully designed to work in a specific way. Our God is not a God of chaos and clutter, which is why we are able to find so much peace when our homes and minds are in a clear, organized state.
Whether you’re looking to boost your immune health, increase productivity and focus, or clear your mind for better peace and reduced stress, one thing is clear: spring cleaning is essential for good overall wellness!
Sources and References:
- No place like home: home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol
- Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex
- Replacing sedentary time with physical activity: a 15-year follow-up of mortality in a national cohort
- Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice
- Cleaning ‘improves mental health’
- No place like home: home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol
- Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, and Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity
- Seven Surprising Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning
- Health Benefits Of A Calm, Uncluttered Home
- Spring Cleaning: 5 Health Benefits to Decluttering Your Life
- Your Closets, Your Clutter, and Your Cognitions
- People at risk of hoarding disorder may have serious complaints about sleep
- 5 Surprising Reasons Why Spring Cleaning is Good for You
- Here Are 5 Ways Spring-Cleaning Can Make You Healthier
- No place like home: home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol
- Spring cleaning: Why more people are uncluttering the mind for better health
Originally published at The Truth About Cancer and reproduced here with permission.
About the author:
Ty Bollinger is a health freedom advocate, cancer researcher, former competitive bodybuilder and author. After losing several family members to cancer, he refused to accept the notion that chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery were the most effective treatments available for cancer patients. He began a quest to learn all he possibly could about alternative cancer treatments and the medical industry. What he uncovered was shocking. There is ample evidence to support the allegation that the “war on cancer” is largely a fraud and that multinational pharmaceutical companies are “running the show.” Ty has now made it his life mission to share the most remarkable discovery he made on his quest: the vast majority of all diseases, including cancer, can be easily prevented and even cured without drugs or surgery.
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