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UCLA Study Finds Stress Caused by Clutter
In the very first study to ever step inside 21st-century family homes to see how a large number of possessions affected the everyday lives of middle-class Americans, researchers at UCLA found clutter to be such an overwhelming problem that it elevated stress hormone levels – especially in mothers. Another surprising discovery was that only 25% of families used their garages to store their cars because the space typically reserved for an automobile was filled with clutter.
Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors was written by a team of archaeologists, anthropologists and social scientists at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF). The researchers studied the home life of 32 middle-class, two-income families in Los Angeles. Co-author, Jeanne E. Arnold said, “This is something that’s never been done before in a modern society. It was an incredibly labor-intensive enterprise.”
The book also documented what these families did with their time, what they did with purchases, what parts of their homes got the most use and what part of home life was the most stressful. The researchers arrived at their results by videotaping the family’s activities and documenting their homes, garages and yards with photographs. They also asked family members to narrate home video tours and measured their stress hormones via saliva samples at regular intervals.
Arnold who is also a UCLA professor of anthropology said this aspect of family life is much less understood since it’s not often studied, “Marketers record and analyze every nuance of consumer purchasing patterns but once people shuttle shopping bags into their homes, the information flow grinds to a halt.”
In addition to discovering how home and garage clutter caused stress, other key findings include:
Big-box stores have allowed people to easily stockpile food and cleaning supplies so clutter is now harder to contain.
The most common renovation in the homes was the master bedrooms yet the space was rarely utilized.
However, other areas of the home were overused, unorganized and created bottlenecks and families rarely spent any money on home renovations to address these problems.
Although Los Angeles has good weather year round, the families rarely used their yards even though many had invested in outdoor furnishings and improvements.
Although it saved an average of only 10-to-12 minutes in preparing meals, most of the families ate convenience foods like frozen dinners.
Instead of the traditional family dinner, many families ate fragmented meals where people ate at different times or in different rooms.
No matter where you live, don’t be one of these stressed out families overwhelmed by their possessions. Check out Closet Factory’s custom closets and garage storage solutions to see how you can organize your living spaces to be clutter and stress free.