Doing a sensible amount of housework can make you happier, but experts warn that you shouldn’t allow the desire for an orderly house to become an obsession.
It’s all about setting yourself achievable goals, according to psychologist Sandra Jankowski. “It comes down to rewards and benefits,” she says.
“If you set yourself a reasonable target and you achieve it, your system will be flooded with hormones that will make you feel happier. These reward and motivation systems also exist in other contexts, for example, in competitive sports.”
Jankowski, who is a member of the Professional Association of German Psychologists, describes this reward system as “flow”.
“The flow experience can result in cleaning up having a relaxing, meditative effect,” she says, adding that throwing away your junk can give you a similar buzz.
But she emphasises that the key element is the setting – and achieving – of a target. The expert warns that the enthusiasm for cleaning up can also turn into an obsession, and advises some caution.
“Don’t let it get to the point where it no longer makes you happy, or where you start to think it might be stopping you from living your life.”
Not everyone is genetically predisposed to get this feeling of flow from cleaning though – some people are just not the “type”.
And there are other forces at work. “There are people who need a creative chaos to be happy,” says Jankowski, highlighting factors such as upbringing and social pressure. – dpa