Around 43% of women with PCOS have anxiety. I am one of them. While I do try my best to reduce stress and anxiety by exercising, doing breathing exercises, and meditating, having PCOS makes it a lot harder to calm down in general. PCOS and anxiety are strongly linked.
If you have PCOS, your chances of having anxiety will increase, and if you are anxious, your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, increase. Too much cortisol increases the amount of testosterone your body produces, which makes PCOS symptoms worse.
While packing and moving recently, my husband and I both realised that the negative effects of clutter are more than just merely looking untidy. In all the chaos, we both started feeling anxious, which made me wonder how clutter causes stress and anxiety to become worse. So, I did some research.
Apart from those who have OCD, or are just very organised, most of us do have some clutter in our lives. And while we often tease those who get stressed when things are out of place or look messy, clutter actually causes anxiety for a lot of people. If you have PCOS and stress a lot, chances are that if you are not very neat and orderly, the clutter could be one of the causes of your anxiety becoming worse.
Whether you have too many items on your desk (which can make it look messy), have stuff you needed to clear out of your car weeks ago, collect more things than you have space for, or just cannot seem to put things where they belong, chances are, there is probably some clutter in your life that you could get rid of.
How Clutter Causes Anxiety and Stress
It sounds weird to think that clutter could be one of your anxiety causes, but clutter and chaos can make us feel overwhelmed, and trigger anxiety. When there are too many items in your sight, you have more stimuli around you, which can make you start to feel anxious without realising it.
This is because clutter has an overwhelming effect, and being around clutter causes your cortisol levels to increase. It can become harder to focus, and a lot easier to become distracted. While for some people, this reaction is stronger than others, most will find that if they do clear out clutter, they experience less anxiety, and are able to feel calmer in general.
Having less clutter means having less distractions and stimuli, and this can reduce anxiety.
How Digital Clutter Causes Anxiety
It is not just the clutter in your environment that can causes anxiety and stress. Digital clutter can also have a big impact. Digital clutter includes the hundreds of messages and emails you get in a day, as well as all of the ads and posts you scroll past. These all compete for our attention, contribute to digital clutter, and make it hard to focus.
While, realistically, you cannot avoid this entirely, you can limit your time spent on social media, and schedule times throughout the day to go through all of your emails, so that you are not constantly tending to them throughout the day.
You could also limit the time you spend on social media in a day, or even just take a break every now and then (unless you are looking up recipes for your new PCOS diet on Pinterest like I am, it is my guilty exception).
Here are a few tips on how to reduce clutter and anxiety to help manage your PCOS symptoms:
Take Getting Rid of Clutter One Step at A Time
If your house, your desk, and your inbox are constantly cluttered, it can cause continuously elevated cortisol levels, which makes you feel anxious and stressed, so it is best to do your best to keep things organised and tidy. If you are not naturally organised, you will not be able to switch to being completely neat overnight, but take it one step at a time.
Jordan Peterson, professor of Clinical Psychology and author of 12 Rules for Life, is famous for instructing people to start by making their beds when they want to sort out their lives. He argues that if you start by making your bed in the morning, and then slowly start fixing the things around you that are out of place one by one, you will be able to change your life.
All you have to do is just aim to be a little bit better than you were the day before. If your tidiness only improves 1% a day, after 100 days, your life could be different, and your co-workers will no longer look at your desk and wonder how you are able to work with all the clutter.
Make Cleaning A Habit
After a long day at work, the last thing you feel like doing is tidying up your house, so you decide to do it tomorrow instead. When tomorrow comes, cleaning gets pushed down to the bottom of your to-do-list. After a few days, your house starts to look like it should be on a reality show, where a team of people comes in to clean your house, and force you to get rid of some of your stuff.
If, one by one, you start adding cleaning habits, such as cleaning up while cooking (so that you don’t have to wash a mountain of dishes later), putting your clothes straight into the laundry basket, or putting items back where they belong after you have used them, you can reduce the overall clutter in your life, and reduce your anxiety as well.
At least, by cleaning, you have control over one of your stress and anxiety causes.
Now you know how clutter causes anxiety and stress, and how you can improve it. For more PCOS and anxiety relief tips, I highly recommend that you download my eBook on How to Lose Weight with PCOS for free. Simply fill in your email address below, and I will send it to you through email.