The Self-Harm Distraction of Decluttering Your Home

February 22, 2021 Martyna Halas

Decluttering serves as a self-harm distraction and might even prevent self-injury behaviors. Find out why at HealthyPlace.

Decluttering your home might seem like a daunting task, but it can also serve as a self-harm distraction and help you gain control over your emotions. There's no doubt, cleaning up and organizing your surroundings has a proven therapeutic effect on your mental health.

How Decluttering Can Be an Effective Self-Harm Distraction

The idea that decluttering can distract you from self-harm comes from scientists. According to researchers at Princeton University, a messy home can overstimulate your visual cortex and disrupt your focus.1 In other words, you become overwhelmed with your surroundings, making your ability to concentrate and make decisions more difficult. 

Another study showed that being surrounded by too many items can lead to paralysis and indecisiveness, elevating your stress hormone levels as a result.2 This, in turn, can contribute to depression and anxiety, especially among women.3 Therefore, we can suggest that a chaotic environment can exacerbate your self-harm urges as well.

I can tell from experience that when my home is a mess, I'm unable to cope with my other life and work responsibilities. I'm more likely to miss a deadline or feel lethargic and unmotivated to complete my daily tasks. Before I know it, depression creeps in, and I spiral into negative self-talk, feelings of guilt, and eventually, harmful behaviors.

Even though cleaning up is not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, I found that there's something almost meditative in tidying my surroundings. It helps me ground myself and think more clearly. Besides, the physical exhaustion that arrives after I'm done is almost like the endorphin release after rigorous exercise.

You can approach tidying up as a mindfulness practice and focus solely on each activity. I like visualizing that I'm inside my head, decluttering my mind from all the awful thoughts that drive me towards self-harm. As I wash the dishes, polish the floors, or give my bathroom a once-over, I imagine I'm scrubbing off all my worries and removing negative junk from my mind. 

If you prefer, you can also listen to an inspirational podcast or a self-help audiobook while you're cleaning up. I find that this practice re-energizes me and gives me a positive kick for the rest of the day.

How I Distract Myself from Self-Harm Using the Konmari Method

If you haven't heard of the Konmari method, it's as simple as surrounding yourself with items that spark joy. Of course, certain household things will never make you excited, and you'll hold on to them out of necessity rather than pleasure. Still, I find Marie Kondo's philosophy soothing, therapeutic, and relevant in our exceedingly busy times.

The creator of this famous decluttering method believes that once you organize your home, you'll lift a mental load that kept you from achieving your dreams and goals. Getting rid of unnecessary possessions makes room for things that actually matter, giving you the peace of mind that you always wished you had.

In this video, I'll tell you how the Konmari method helps me distract myself from self-harm and improves my mental health in general:

Do you use decluttering as a self-harm distraction? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. McMains, S. et al., “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex.” The Journal of Neuroscience, January 2012. 
  2. Iyengar, S. et al., "When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing? " Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000.
  3. Darby, E. et al., “No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, November 2009. 

APA Reference
Halas, M. (2021, February 22). The Self-Harm Distraction of Decluttering Your Home, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 13 from

Author: Martyna Halas

Find Martyna on Facebook, InstagramMedium and on her blog.

June, 26 2021 at 8:56 pm

I've long seen the association between my cluttered house and a chaotic/disorganized mind, but never looked at decluttering as a way to gain some control over SI urges. Thanks for the idea, I'm gonna try this!

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