While the holiday break is a great time for catching up with friends and family, it's also a good opportunity to clean your house, apartment or work space, and prepare for the new year ahead. Not only will your space look brighter and more inviting, there are also significant psychological benefits to cleaning.
Earlier this year, the Marie Kondo craze swept the globe, forcing people everywhere to confront their cleanliness habits and consider a minimalist lifestyle. But while Kondo-ing has long since gone out of fashion, the principles behind it remain important.
Cleaning is good for the soul. It helps to reduce stress, provides organisation and structure, and creates a more positive home environment. In fact, a 2010 study from the University of California identified that key stressors on relationships and home life are messy or untidy homes. Further studies have reinforced that crowded or cluttered homes are more likely to negatively impact mental wellbeing. Having a tidy living space has countless benefits, and the simple art of cleaning can significantly improve your mental and physical health.
Anyone who's undertaken a vigorous end-of-year clean knows that it can be a physically taxing process. Whether you're climbing roofs to clean windows (and hopefully staying very safe) or even wiping down the kitchen cupboards, you're expending an enormous amount of energy. Everyone knows the benefits of exercise, but physical activity can come in many forms — including cleaning. Not only will a holiday clean provide a relaxing living environment for the next few months, it can also help you kick off your exercise goals for the new year!
More than that, cleaning is often repetitive, and it gives your mind something to focus on and improve. If there's something you've been stressing about, like developments at work or an impending life crisis, cleaning can be a great opportunity to refocus on something you can control and instil better organisational habits. You may not know what the future holds, but having a cleaner and more organised living environment can help you feel in control, and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.
While there are many obvious benefits to cleaning, there might still be major obstacles for those wishing to reap them, including (but not limited to) a lack of time or motivation, and long-term ingrained habits. Thankfully, it's not the end of the world if you're feeling distinctly uninspired, and sites like Unfuck Your Habitat can help you break down your chores into more digestible pieces.
The most important thing to remember when beginning a yearly clean is that not everything needs to be done at once. If you lack the time or energy, tasks can easily be broken up into smaller, more doable items — a list is sure to come in handy if you don't know what to tackle next.
This could mean spending a few hours cleaning out a dusty office, or a half-day dusting blinds and cleaning windows around the house. It could even be setting aside an hour to organise a CD or DVD collection one afternoon.
The dust will still be there if you need to take a rest, and achieving the task in pieces can help you feel more accomplished throughout the holiday period. Cleaning during the holiday break will set the tone for the new year, and help you stay organised, focussed and productive in the year to come.