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Messy Bed, Messy Head

I’ve studied and implemented Feng Shui (FS) for nearly 35 years, and there’s one expression among FS practitioners that has always nailed it for me: “Messy bed, messy head.” Feng Shui is all about energy–or Chi–and how we may improve or enhance our Chi through changes in our environment. Chi moves freely through a clean and serene space. Clutter causes Chi to get “stuck” and this stuck energy is bad for us on many levels.

It’s true! And it’s not just the FS crowd acknowledging this. There’s also significant evidence, and talk, among mental health professionals and physicians about the correlation between clutter and one’s mental and physical health.

Physically, a cluttered or messy environment can increase fall risks, respiratory problems, and fire hazards; attract unwanted critters; and it may exacerbate allergies.

Mess = stress, and stress raises blood cortisol levels. This article by the Cleveland Clinic discusses the role of the stress hormone, cortisol, in regulating our metabolism, suppressing inflammation, regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, and controlling the sleep/wake cycle. Essentially, too much stress can have a negative impact on nearly every organ and system of the body. 

The effect of clutter on our mental health is equally alarming. As explained by WebMD, clutter can overwhelm us to the point where we have trouble making decisions or have difficulty concentrating. The embarrassment of having a messy environment may cause us to isolate ourselves. Prolonged isolation leads to both depression and anxiety, and it exacerbates cognitive decline. Clutter also negatively impacts our working memory, so we’re cognitively less efficient, and it can contribute to sleeping disorders.

If you’re not feeling your absolute best, take a moment to assess your environment. How does it feel to you? Is it serene, or does it stress you out a little? Need a little help with creating a space that feels nurturing? Not to worry: Next time, we’ll talk about some Feng Shui interventions for improving the Chi in your home.

Until then, go make your bed!

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