As someone who likes watching home renovation shows on television, I’ve never really thought much about why cleaning and organizing feel so fulfilling. Other people may think it’s taxing, but I personally find the transformation of a space from being cluttered to being spotless extremely soothing and satisfying.
During quarantine, we’ve personally noticed the rising interest in home redecoration (hello to all the furniture and kitchenware miners) as a way to cope with the changing times. Apparently, this also comes with the act of cleaning and organizing itself. In fact, TikTok has already built a community of cleaning fanatics whose videos under the hashtags #cleanwithme, #cleaningtok, and #organizeit have gathered billions of views.
This isn’t surprising, especially in the middle of a health crisis. Of course, we’d be pulling all stops to make sure that the dreaded virus doesn’t enter our home—and a way to ensure that is by cleaning everything, from our surroundings to our phones, groceries and clothes.[READ: A guide to cleaning (almost) everything in the time of COVID-19]
But protecting ourselves from getting sick isn’t the sole reason why a lot of people are turning to cleaning during quarantine.
“When we seek out ways to reduce feelings of helplessness, cleaning is one of the ways we might decide to do that,” said clinical psychologist Jaime Zuckerman. Even small acts of cleaning, such as organizing items on a shelf, help us feel a sense of control over our surroundings because we already know the end result of it—a contrast to the uncertainties that we currently face.
Repetitive actions, such as scrubbing or sweeping, also helps put us at ease. “In this state, you’re often able to observe outside thoughts, concerns, and fears with less reactivity and distress,” said psychotherapist Maggie Vaughan.
Cleaning can also serve as a mini-workout, and in times where we can’t go to the gym, this becomes an easy and practical at-home solution for reducing stress hormones and stimulating the production of endorphins the same way exercise does.
For quarantine consumerists, cleaning is also the next step after feeling the fleeting satisfaction of buying new things. “It feels good to get new things, but then things make you feel out of control because you have nowhere to put them, so you regain that control by cleaning and organizing,” said home expert and New York Times Real Estate columnist Ronda Kaysen.
So if you’re in need of a way to de-stress that still feels productive, you might want to consider clearing the clutter on your desk or floor, organizing the items in your bookshelf or powering up that vacuum cleaner.
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