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The Science Behind Spring Cleaning

The Science Behind Spring Cleaning

By Cecille Castillon-Weinstein

As soon as the clocks move forward in the middle of March, the Lemon Verbena scent of Mrs. Meyer’s household products permeates the air! All across the country, busy homemakers declare that Spring Cleaning has officially begun!

I’m originally from a tropical climate, and experiencing seasons is still relatively new for me. This yearly undertaking, timed with the birth of life after the chill of winter, has quickly become one of my favorite American rituals. The annual tradition of purging, heavy-duty cleaning, and decluttering of our homes and workspaces appeals to me- an organizing junkie!
I love tidying up! It’s exhausting work – don’t get me wrong. But when the cleaning and sorting are complete, it’s the thrill of seeing the “before and after” transformations that truly motivates me. There is a healing power in realizing the fruits of your labor. Actually, the process of sorting and arranging has the potential to be meditative. Living in a well-ordered environment can yield significant health benefits including a change in brain chemistry for the better. Take a look:
A study conducted by researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute relates directly to uncluttered and organized living. Their report “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex”, states:

‘Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout the visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.’

Erin Doland, the author of Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter, paraphrased:

“When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.”

The Science Behind Spring Cleaning

This makes perfect sense, especially for me; early on in Nursing school, I learned about Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory. Widely known as “The Lady with the Lamp”, she is considered the first nursing theorist and founder of educated and scientific nursing. Her Environmental Theory, put simply, proposes that a person’s environment directly contributes to the prevention or suppression of disease.

Nightingale believed in providing a relaxing and orderly environment for her patients. This included ensuring access to basic necessities such as pure fresh air, clean water, effective drainage, cleanliness, and direct sunlight. When implemented, this had a tremendous impact on their recovery. On the contrary, any deficiency in one or more of these factors could lead to an impaired recovery process or diminished health status. In the Nursing context, maintaining an environment that is conducive to healing and healthy living is vital.

The same is quite true and applicable to our daily lives. When we take care of our surroundings, we are essentially taking care of our mental, physical and emotional health. As a dedicated nurse, this is part of my holistic philosophy and approach to mental and physical wellness, improving the quality of life itself. This is deeply ingrained in me, just like my penchant for tidiness!

Nursing is also educating. In the hospital, doctor’s offices, schools, and in the community as a whole, nurses around the world provide health teachings as part of a care plan. And this educator is telling you that an orderly environment will improve your overall wellness!

So get cracking, get on with the Spring cleaning! Your health will thank you for it! <3


Cecille is the owner and founder of CASTILLON LIFESTYLE + CONCIERGE, a US-based consulting service providing lifestyle management and concierge solutions for families and professionals on the go.

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