There are a number of theories as to why people hoard stuff. We aren’t knocking hoarders – to be clear – some considerable part of our work brings us into the realms of minor hoarders on a regular basis. And you’d be surprised how many people hoard stuff, it’s not always so extreme as the sensational stories that make it to reality shows or tabloid magazines. We’ve met some pretty fascinating, brilliant, and admirable characters who call on us to haul away their junk when it gets to be too much by their own unique standards. There are extremes and then there’s a wide eclectic middle ground where most people fit in one way or another. It’s in this middle ground zone that we consider the psychology of hoarding and the benefits of decluttering.

Why do people amass large amounts of stuff they don’t need or use? For extreme hoarders there are often deeper emotional or neurological disorders underlying the problem, for those people merely decluttering is not going to be enough. Extreme hoarding behaviours can be caused by impairments in the brain, depression, grief, and trauma. However there is a broad spectrum of ‘hoarding’ and even for those far away from the extreme, some research suggests that letting go of stuff we feel attached to actually activates parts of our brains that experience physical pain!

What are possible effects of living with too much clutter? Well it turns out that investigating this subject opened up a labyrinth of research studies that go into this subject far too deeply for the scope of this article. For instance it’s not very good for childrens’ brain development to grow in severely disorganized and cluttered homes. But for the purposes of this writing let’s stick to the basics, and here those are explained well in this Psychology Today article. Simply put, clutter can STRESS US OUT!

And so what are the psychological effects of decluttering? There’s much ado in ‘lifestyle’ media about decluttering, minimalism and organization. Countless magazines and books promise significant improvements in all areas of our lives and a quasi-zen state if we declutter our work and home places into minimalistic order. Yet there is surprisingly little scientific date to be found on actual psychological benefits of decluttering. In fact, there has long been a hypothesized correlation between messiness and creative or mad-science genius, seemingly confirmed through research.

Where does all this leave us? This leaves most of us that broad, eclectic middle ground between extreme hoarding and devout clutter-free lifestylers. What we know is that excessive clutter causes us stress. We know that decluttering and simplifying our residences and workplaces feels so good people will run out and buy magazines about it. We live in times where it’s too easy to accumulate stuff, and too much stuff causes too much stress.

We’re not psychologists, and we’re not lifestyle advocates (nor critics). What we do encounter are everyday people who accumulate far too much stuff and it causes them stress. We help them get rid of it, then afterwards we hear how professionally we handled the sensitive situation and how much better they feel for having gotten rid of it. We’re not here to judge. When the hoarding gets to be too much, or you’re ready for a round of decluttering as a part of your lifestyle, give us a call and book Haul A Day Junk Removal (if you’re in our region, otherwise we’re sure you can get some help where you are too).