Our Home Organization Obsession Decluttered Our Minds, Too

But living spaces don’t have to be Netflix-immaculate to help improve mental health.

By Zoe Sayler March 9, 2021

Among all my recent Netflix binges, one show still stands out—commemorated in the form of neat plastic containers now separating junk from other junk in the top drawer of my dresser. Get Organized with the Home Edit debuted smack in the middle of what experts called the pandemic’s “disillusionment phase.” As quickly as its hosts transformed Reese Witherspoon’s closet, the series prompted a wave of weekend warriors to weave through the Container Store in search of some much-needed sanity (and branded materials). The New Yorker soon decried it as “an elaborate infomercial.”

The show arrived in September 2020, when anxiety and depression were full-on members of our quarantine pods. That month nearly nine times more people completed Mental Health America’s online depression screening than in January, pre-pandemic. It wasn’t just an indication that we were struggling, but a sign that we were looking for answers.

Home Edit’s career declutterers specialize in aesthetically stunning, wildly meticulous, and often celebrity home transformations; these women arranged actress Jordana Brewster’s ice cream sandwiches. But Denise Allan, a Redmond-based professional organizer focused primarily on clients whose disorganization reflects an inner chaos, takes a more utilitarian approach. Amid struggles with anxiety and depression, “if your home can be livable, that can help buoy you,” she says—no shiny merchandise required.

As cool as it looks to designate a prim little space for each vehicle in a fleet of toddler Jeeps, Allan insists that reaping the mental health benefits of a more organized home can be as simple as moving a desk out of a busy kitchen (even if it’s into a relatively roomy closet) or taking on a single dresser drawer.

Infomercial or no, Home Edit’s space-clearing lessons helped make room for us to clear our heads. If “your physical space is kind of a picture of what’s going on in your mind,” as Allan says, who can blame us for wanting to tuck all the disparate facets of our lives into tidy plastic boxes?

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