The Art of Housekeeping
During self-isolation, who would have thought that cleaning the house will be a therapeutic and soothing ritual to curb with the stress? Psychologists have the answer. Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash

It’s been months since people sheltering at home, spending most of our time in the house doing everything as we all know that the current pandemic has forced us to do so. It can be stressful to be locked in for a long period of time while one has to manage personal, social, and work-life under one roof. Stress may be unavoidable, and making our home a place of comfort is very important, if nothing else, to reduce feelings of anxiety, cautious, and worries about what’s happening nowadays.

Look at our surroundings first and scan the situation in our house. Is it cluttered, messy, or do you manage to clean it every day? Who would have thought, besides watching a ton of movies, listening to new music or crying new recipes for dinner, cleaning our house is a popular activity today and people are enjoying the domestic task of housekeeping.

The Art of Housekeeping

Housekeeping becomes a self-soothing ritual that could be an effective stress reliever if we know how to enjoy it. New York-based psychotherapist, Maggie Vaughen, told HuffPost that activities like cleaning the house could give us a sense of control over our environment. In the limited space, one can create the best atmosphere that could exude the positive energy among the member of the house, including ourself.

Cleaning the house is more than a job—it is our obligation to keep the house tidy and neat. One can learn how to enjoy housework from books like Better Homes & Gardens or Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House. According to Jeffiner Weiner, contributing opinion writer at The New York Times said that if food is a way to show love, then at this moment, so is cleaning.

Cleaning Provides a Sense of Control Over our Environment

Anxiety, the early stage of mental breakdown, could come from insecurity towards uncertainty. People need something that they have control over. If we can put in a sentence, “We can’t control the pandemic but we can control our house”.

Jaime Zuckerman, an American clinical psychologist, said that cleaning helps us filter out the larger picture, which is overwhelmingly uncertain, by giving us something to have power over — even if it’s something as small as organising our books by colour. “When we seek out ways to reduce feelings of helplessness, cleaning is one of the best ways do that,” Zuckerman said.

Cleaning Offers the State of Mindfulness and Releasing the Endorphins

Cleaning is a form of ritual or repetitive behaviour. Cleaning activities, such as scrubbing the floor, provides the same benefits as exercising. We keep the body active and make it a part of the exercise for someone who finds a struggle to maintain a workout schedule.

Cleaning can act as a mini-workout and bring about the same neurochemical benefits as exercise. Besides reducing stress hormones, cleaning activities also stimulate the production of endorphins, which can improve our mood.

Starting the day with cleaning may encourage our subconscious to be an active person during the day and avoid the circle of laziness. It ends up becoming an informal mindfulness practice of sorts. “Not that we deliberately choose to practice mindfulness in this way, but it could be an unconscious reason why we gravitate toward cleaning in times of heightened anxiety,” Vaughn said.

The Post-cleanup Feelings Could Inspire Confidence

Successfully accomplishing clean-up agendas, such as overhauling chaotic rooms, makes one feel capable to handle other areas of life that are scary or out of control.

Forrest Talley, a California-based clinical psychologist said that accomplishing a clean-up project could create a ‘good feeling’ of confidence that lasts throughout day. “Greater confidence encourages people to tackle other challenges in life that may have seemed too far a reach in the past,” Talley said.

If one is familiar with Netflix’s show Tyding up with Marie Kondo, one will also find a way to enjoy organising and cleaning the house to reduce the stress and burden in our house. In the other hand, going overboard with the cleaning activities cause stress. We have to make sure it’s enjoyable and we can’t also depend on tidying rituals to relieve internal discomfort that needs problem-solving.

“It’s healthy to use cleaning to clear your mind, gain perspective, and take a break from your worries but it shouldn’t be used to hide from problems,” Talley stated to HuffPost.

NOW! Jakarta

NOW! Jakarta

The article is produced by editorial team of NOW!Jakarta