Why Highly Sensitive People Dislike Clutter (and How to Get Rid of It)

Busy space, busy head. That is in short why highly sensitive people like a decluttered space. Busy environments mean lots of things for a highly sensitive person to process. That leads to overstimulation. Overstimulation means stress.

Why Highly Sensitive People Dislike Clutter (and How to Get Rid of It)

The Effect of Clutter

Clutter attracts more clutter. I have three children between the ages of seven and twelve,
and none of them yet seem to have my hatred of clutter. In fact, far from it. Pigs in mud; my kids and clutter. And it drives me nuts.

Clutter makes me anxious. It makes me grumpy. I cannot declutter my head whilst my environment is cluttered. It distracts me. And I am certainly not unique.

The findings add to a growing body of evidence that clutter can negatively impact mental well-being, particularly among women. Clutter can also induce a physiological response, including increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter: New York Times

Some people have a gift for being completely oblivious to clutter. I imagine most are not highly sensitive, those people who notice the detail in the world around them.

Clutter causes stress, and as we all know stress is not a great thing to welcome into your life.

In short, clutter is bad for you, and even more so if you are highly sensitive.

Digital Clutter

And the bad news is that it’s not just our physical environments that are causing stress:

The overconsumption of digital stuff—like social media notifications, news feeds, games and files on our computer—competes for our attention, creating a digital form of clutter that has the same effect on our brain as physical clutter.

It’s science: Clutter can actually give you anxiety: Motherly

Being attached to our phones constantly is cluttering our minds up. The constant pinging of notifications doesn’t help us switch off from the world around us. It’s overwhelm from all sides.

7 Ways a Highly Sensitive Can Declutter?

There are a number of things you can do to help yourself, and your home.

  1. Stop it before it starts – stop clutter getting into your house. Next time you are out shopping or your finger is poised on the buy button ask yourself, “Do I really need this? Do my kids really need this?”
  2. Spend ten minutes before you head out in the morning quickly clearing a space. Don’t leave it for your return at the end of the day, when the impact of a messy space will be bigger.
  3. Take a walk in nature, leave your phone behind and just walk in silence to declutter your mind.
  4. Meditate to clear out your mind.
  5. Regularly have a thorough clear out of belongings. Donate items, pass them on, throw them out.
  6. Take tips from the professionals. I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondon and I have to say I am now a clothes folding ninja and a lot more artful at decluttering than before I read the book. Has something served its purpose? Then it can go already. We have bags and bags of items that will shortly leave our home. (Amazon US link here) (Amazon UK link here) (Amazon.de link here) (Blackwell’s with delivery included in the price!)
  7. Hire in help. Such as Amazon Home Services: house cleaning, home improvement, yard services. Get yourself some help to get on top of that cluttered shed, yard, or home!

Why Highly Sensitive People Dislike Clutter (and How to Get Rid of It)

Over to You

Do you notice clutter around you? What impact does it have on you? Share your decluttering tips!

Further Reading

Highly Sensitive Children and Clutter



About Amanda van Mulligen

Mother, writer, author, blogger. Born British, Living Dutch. I have three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and I blog about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children.
This entry was posted in The Why and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Why Highly Sensitive People Dislike Clutter (and How to Get Rid of It)

  1. Pingback: Home, Family, Parenting and Self Care Resources to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful | Happy Sensitive Kids

  2. Pingback: What Do Mums Really Want This Mother’s Day? Bucket Time! | Happy Sensitive Kids

  3. Pingback: Highly Sensitive Children and Clutter | Happy Sensitive Kids

  4. MomentsWMags says:

    Thanks for making this list to follow! I am very highly sensitive in my emotions and actions, even into my young adult lift and I find my self reacting heavily to just the house being cluttered after a long week. It’s good to have guidelines like these to come across to know there are ways to help that!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, clutter definitely unsettles me and it’s amazing how we acquire “things”. I had mixed feelings about parts of Kondo’s book but in the majority of advice, she’s spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were some things in Kondo’s book that I couldn’t relate to – totally agree! But I got a lot out of the idea that things have served a purpose and can leave our homes……..


  6. Seeking Inner Freedom says:

    Hey! I love this article, its very organized 😉 I embarked on minimalizing my life (if that’s a word) in the last year, and you’d be amazed how much has changed. I feel like I am slowly unearthing myself. Finding I can feel who I am by what is important to keep. I’ve probably halved my overall belongings…and I have two kids, so that’s saying something. Also, miraculously, many people I did not need are no longer in my life, and being replaced by more positive, quality connections.
    I like #1 and #2, in your list above, the best. I notice that I no longer purchase things just to purchase things. I honor my space, and want to love everything in it. Thank you for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am definitely putting potential purchases through the “Do we really need this?” test before buying. That is the definitely the best way to make sure clutter never comes into the house!


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