You have probably heard the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
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It’s sort of an odd saying—and one many people wrongly believe is from the Bible. It probably does have its roots in ancient religion, and may have originally referred to the idea that purity of body and/or spirit is adjacent to a godly behavior.
Cleanliness and Mental Health
These days, however, people tend to use the phrase when they are, for example, asking a messy teenager to clean up their room. The odds are pretty good that the teenager cannot possibly imagine how putting their dirty socks in the hamper, taking dirty dishes to the kitchen, or putting their homework in some semblance of order is in any way related to godliness. And to be fair, it is difficult to think of any passages from any religions or mythologies that depict the gods tidying up. In general, they have plenty of other things going on to occupy their time.
So, we propose a reformulation of the proverb: Cleanliness is next to mental healthfulness.
It turns out that tidying up can be beneficial for a person’s overall mental health. And for those in recovery from a substance use disorder, this boost to mental health can provide important support for ongoing sobriety.
The Day and Night Cases for Decluttering
It might not be immediately clear how a reduction in clutter can lead to an improvement in mental health. So let us clear things up.
First, having a sense of where things are when you need them is a great way to reduce stress in your daily life. We suspect you know exactly what we mean. You have no doubt had one of those moments when you are running late and you simply cannot find your wallet or purse, your keys, or even your shoes. You rush around trying to find this or that as your overall level of stress—already high because you are in a hurry—continues to rise.
In a consistently cluttered environment, this sort of experience happens over and over. And while each moment of struggling to find something might seem small, over time the extra stress adds up. So straightening up is a great way to eliminate these periods of stress caused by the frustration of losing things you need.
That’s a daytime benefit of decluttering, but cleaning up a bit has nighttime benefits as well. A dark, cool, decluttered sleeping environment supports restful sleep. Getting enough sleep is essential for supporting mental health and recovery. Clearing off your bedside table may seem like a small thing, but it is a step toward significant benefits.
A Quick Decluttering Can Spark a Quick Mood and Productivity Boost
Sometimes we just feel stuck. Maybe we are overwhelmed by our to-do list. Maybe we just feel like we can’t make positive progress on a project. Maybe we just are feeling low and having trouble getting going.
In those situations, a quick decluttering project can help you get unstuck. We’re not talking about a full-scale reorganization of your office or closet. Instead, we mean tackling something small. Recycle that pile of junk mail. Put the books scattered around the room back on the shelf. Gather up all the small notes you have made to yourself and organize them by priority for your attention. We’re talking about a project you can complete in five or ten minutes.
Why is this helpful? Because it provides you with an easy win, which reminds you that you can make steady progress on projects and goals if you break them down into small steps. And the straightening up offers a quick boost to your mood, too, which can be the key to unlocking your motivation.
Using this technique to break out of bad moods or to overcome a sense of being overwhelmed lessens the chance that you will be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol to eliminate the negative feelings you are experiencing. It is amazing to think that getting rid of your junk mail can be important to your recovery, but every little activity that makes a relapse less likely is a win for a person who is committed to maintaining their sobriety.
First Things First: Let Us Help You Regain Your Sobriety
A drinking problem can sneak up on you. Not only that, it is quite common for a person to live in a state of denial for a while even after they suspect their drinking has become an issue. And a sense of embarrassment of shame might prevent someone from getting the help they need even after they can no longer ignore the problem and the impact it is having on their life.
At Bel Aire Recovery Center, we understand that it may be difficult to admit that you need help—and we are wholly committed to making sure you feel respected and understood when you come to us for treatment for a substance use disorder. We will personalize your treatment plan and support you throughout the detox and rehab process. That support will continue into the early days of your recovery journey through our commitment to a continuum of care.
If you know you need help, clear away the clutter of denial and excuses from your mind. Let Bel Aire Recovery Center help you reclaim and maintain your sobriety. That is the first, essential step to reclaiming your life.