Do you become frustrated when your house is a mess and looks like a bomb went off? Your dog had an accident, your kids didn’t clean their rooms, and your spouse left dishes in the sink.

It’s enough to drive one mad.

And there’s actually a reason for it and it’s not that you’re crazy. Studies show that clutter and mess actually causes us anxiety.

“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives,” Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote in an article for Psychology Today.

There are 8 major reasons why Carter believes this:
•Clutter overwhelms us because it causes excessive stimuli so our senses go into overdrive
•It distracts us from other things we’d like to focus on
•It makes it harder to mentally and physically relax
•It signals to our minds that our work is never done
•It also causes anxiety because we have to think about how we are going to clean everything up
•It can impede productivity and creativity
•It makes it harder for us to find what we need and takes up space for doing other necessary things on our list

According to UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families, women react more to clutter in their homes than men do. They found that women in cluttered homes have higher levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

Men who live in cluttered homes, however, don’t have the same levels of cortisol as women do.

The good news is that stress and anxiety caused by clutter can be eliminated. Carter offers several tips to help prevent clutter from overwhelming your household and creating unnecessary anxiety.

Here are some of those tips:
•Get your family involved in cleaning. If you’re on your own, start in one space at a time before you move on to another so that you don’t get overwhelmed and can feel accomplished as you progress.
•Create a specific space for your items so you’re more likely to keep the item in its designated space. It’s best to keep items in closed spaces so you don’t have to look at it.
•Throw away things that you don’t use or that you don’t need. If you haven’t opened it or used it in a year, toss it!
•Clean up your mess after you make it. It will give you a nice sense of closure and will be clean when you return to it.

Originally published