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Is cleaning up really good for your mind and body? We asked an expert.

Is cleaning up really good for your mind and body? We asked an expert.

Was your New Year's Resolution to clean up and finally get your home organized?

If it was, you're not alone.

Since the start of the year, cities all over the country are reporting more clothing donations than usual. And, of course, it seems like everyone is obsessed with the show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" and showing off their new home organization projects on social media.

So whether you were inspired by a TV show, the millionth fight with your partner over dirty dishes, or simply a walk past the Container Store, it's always a good time to clean up and organize your space.

“There is a pleasure in imagining that this thing — being organized and clean — is a task that can be done," explains Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine. “Once done, things would look nice and be less cluttered and you'd know where everything is. It's sort of like imagining how good you'd feel after you do a spin class or a run."

And that's part of the reason, she adds, why so many people are inspired right now by Kondo's Netflix show: it gives them the tools to plan out how they can get something done, and help them feel like their goals are, indeed, attainable.

The good news is that setting a goal like this — and working to achieve it — can have a lot of positive effects on your life and your health, as long as you tackle it in a manageable way. Here are just 7 of those benefits:

1. Cleaning up can alleviate stress.

A 2009 UCLA study found a correlation between women's stress levels and untidy homes. Women who described their homes as untidy, messy, cluttered or unfinished had higher levels of cortisol — the body's main stress hormone — than those that described their homes as “tidy" or “restorative." They also had increased feelings of depression during the day.

This suggests that living in a cleaner, more organized space has a relaxing effect which can, in turn, lower your stress. On a slightly different note, according to MarketWatch, Americans spend about 55 minutes a day looking for stuff they own but can't find — which is stressful and disheartening in a totally different way. Not only that, but sometimes mess can simply be overwhelming, leaving you feeling defeated and depressed.

2. It can also improve your relationships.

“For many people the issue of how clean and how organized to be is a real source of relationship stress," says Dr. Saltz. This is especially true in couples. One half of the couple might really like things organized and obsessively clean. The other might think it's no big deal if the dirty clothes pile up or if the house goes a week or two between vacuums.

“This can be a source of arguing, disagreement and upset that takes a lot of emotional space up," she explains. That's why it's often important for couples to learn to compromise and agree on a certain standard of tidy for their shared space.

“Having a relatively clean and organized space is probably better for a couple's wellbeing. I mean, unless you happen to have found your soulmate in filth," she adds, with a laugh.

3. You're more likely to socialize if you keep your space tidy.

Almost half of Americans say that if their house feels cluttered, they won't invite people over. But not socializing in your space can have a tremendous impact on your friendships and your well-being, making you feel isolated and increasing your chances of depression or poor mental health.So get out those Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and start planning that potluck you've been meaning to! Your mind will thank you for it.

4. Cleaning up can boost your creativity and productivity.

Clutter and dirt can have a negative impact on your ability to focus or process information, according to a Princeton Study. This can make you feel distracted and stressed out, inhibiting your ability to get things done — which is bad at home and at work.

If you take the time to clean up your desk and your home, it can help you be more efficient. “One's productivity and creativity might be increased once one has completed organization — mostly because mentally, that distraction has been taken off the table," explains Dr. Saltz. “It frees up more space to be productive and creative."

5. It might also help you financially.

If you can't find something in a messy house, but you really need it, you're likely to give up looking for it and just buy a new one. This can waste your money, according to MarketWatch — and it won't help your clutter problem either.

Extra stuff can also get expensive if you aren't willing to let it go. More than 10 percent of American households rent storage spaces to hold their extra belongings — and they can spend as much as $1,000 a year on that facility. It should come as no surprise that the sale of home storage products, such as plastic boxes, has become a $10.5 billion business.

6. You might eat healthier.

A study in the journal Psychological Sciencesuggests that people in orderly environments can show a preference for healthier snacks. That's something that can benefit every one of us!

7. A clean bed could help you sleep better.

According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, people who make their beds every morning are 19 percent more likely to report getting a good night's sleep.

Not only that, but that same survey found that 73% of people said that they got a better night's rest if their sheets and bedding were clean. It simply made them feel more comfortable — helping them nod off at night. So if you've been sleeping in the same sheets for over a week, it might be a good idea to take a trip to Laundry Town.

Before you embark on your cleaning adventure, though, there are two important things to remember:

First, not everyone has the same definition of “clean" or “tidy."

“There can be a lot of variability between one person's 'this is acceptable' and another person's 'are you kidding me?" says Dr. Saltz. “I don't think there is a uniform [standard] that everyone aspires to."

In other words, maybe you're the kind of person who finds that keeping a minimalist home is very relaxing. But someone else might find that same minimalist space depressing and too sparse. It's okay to want a bookshelf chock full of books or a lot of sentimental things around you. The key is to find the level of tidy and organized that makes you happy.

As long as your space or clutter doesn't interfere with your ability to function — i.e. you can never find things, you don't want people over, it's affecting your relationships or your job, etc. — then it's okay to decide what organized looks like for you.

Second, don't overwhelm yourself in the process of trying to better your space.

“Usually when you tell someone that they need a major life overhaul, it doesn't work — sort of like the New Year's resolution to lose 50 pounds. It's probably not going to happen," Dr. Saltz explains. “You have to break things into bite-sized chunks so that it feels manageable and not overwhelming or anxiety-producing."

“If it feels anxiety-producing, most people won't even embark on a project at all," she continues. “So start one closet at a time and feel good about what you accomplish. That's more likely to work for you in the long run."

If you stress yourself out trying to achieve the impossible overnight, you're never going to experience the benefits that cleaning up can have on your health, defeating the point of your newest New Year's resolution in the first place.

Clorox believes clean has the power to transforms lives, which is why they've partnered with Upworthy to promote those same traits in people, actions and ideas. Cleaning up and transformation are important aspects of many of our social good stories. Check out the rest in the campaign to read more.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

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Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

Family

Supportive husband writes a fantastic 'love list' to his depressed wife

“He knows I struggle to see good in the world, and especially the good in myself. But here it is."

Image from Imgur.

Husband shares a list of love with his wife.

Imgur user "mollywho" felt her life was falling apart. Not only was she battling clinical depression, but she had her hands full.

"I've been juggling a LOT lately," she wrote on Imgur. "Trying to do well at work. Just got married. Couldn't afford a wedding. Family is sparse. Falling out with friends, yaddadyadda.”

She was also upset about how she treated her new husband.

"I've not been the easiest person to deal with. In fact, sometimes I've lost all hope and even taken my anger out on my husband."



When she returned home from a business trip in San Francisco, mentally exhausted, she collapsed on her bed and cried. Then she noticed some writing on the bedroom mirror. It was a list that read:

Reasons I love my wife

1. She is my best friend
2. She never quits on herself or me
3. She gives me time to work on my crazy projects
4. She makes me laugh, every day
5. She is gorgeous
6. She accepts the crazy person i am
7. She's the kindest person i know
8. She's got a beautiful singing voice

9. She's gone to a strip club with me
10. She has experienced severe tragedy yet is the most optimistic person about humanity i know
11. She has been fully supportive about my career choices and followed me each time
12. Without realizing it, she makes me want to do more for her than i have ever wanted to do for anyone
13. She's done an amazing job at advancing her career path
14. Small animals make her cry
15. She snorts when she laughs

love letters, support, marriage, mental illness

The list of love.

Image from Imgur.

This amazing show of support from her husband was exactly what she needed. "I think he wanted me to remember how much he loves me," she wrote. "Because he knows how quickly I forget. He knows I struggle to see good in the world, and especially the good in myself. But here it is. A testament and gesture of his love. Damn, I needed it today…"

She ended her post with some powerful words about mental illness.

"I'm not saying mental illness is cured by nice words on a mirror. In fact, it takes professional care, love, empathy, sometimes even medication just to cope. Many people struggle with it mental illness - more than we probably even realize. And instead of showing them hate or anger when they act out. Show them kindness and remind them things can and WILL get better. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. If that person can't be you - see if you have any resources for therapy."


This article originally appeared on 12.10.15

Pop Culture

Nicole Kidman shares the unconventional marriage rule she has with husband Keith Urban

They've had this communication rule since the very beginning of their 18 year relationship.

Keith Urban (left) Nicole Kidman (right)

Long before Nicole Kidman began her long-term relationship with AMC theaters, she was committed to husband and country singer Keith Urban. The two have happily been together since 2006—which is a good run for any modern day marriage, but most certainly a Hollywood one.

And perhaps their nearly decades-long success can be partially attributed to one surprising communication rule: no texting.

While appearing on the Something To Talk About podcast in 2023, Kidman shared that she was the one who initiated the unconventional agreement.

"We never text each other, can you believe that? We started out that way – I was like, 'If you want to get a hold of me, call me…"I wasn't really a texter.,” the “Moulin Rouge” actress shared.

She added that while Urban did attempt texting her a few items early on, he eventually switched when Kidman wasn’t very responsive. And now, 18 years later, they only call each other.

“We just do voice to voice or skin to skin, as we always say. We talk all the time and we FaceTime but we just don’t text because I feel like texting can be misrepresentative at times…I don’t want that between my lover and I,” she told Parade

.

There are, of course, some pros and cons to calling over texting. Research has shown that people who call feelmore connected to one another vs. texting, with the voice being an integral component of bonding. As our society becomes increasingly more distant and lonely, finding those moments might be more important than ever.

At the same time, calling can invoke a lot more anxiety compared to texting, which could lead someone to not communicating at all. Also, I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to call my partner for mundane things like “don’t forget the eggs” would drive me crazy.

But regardless of whether or not you adopt Kidman and Urban’s no-texting rule, perhaps the bigger takeaway is that relationship longevity depends on being able to establish your own rules. One that feels good and that each partner is able to stick to. Especially when it comes to communication.

As Urban himself told E! News at the CMT Music Awards, "I have no advice for anybody,You guys figure out whatever works for you…We're figuring it out. You figure it out. Everybody's different. There's no one size fits all."

Luckily, there are many ways to have good text hygiene, without having to do away with it completely. Very Well Mind suggests to avoid texting too many questions, and to be respectful of your partner's schedule (probably best to not text them while they’re sleeping just to say “hey,” for example). Nor should texting be used to argue or deal with conflict. Lastly, probably save the lengthy, in-depth conversations for a phone call. Fifteen heart emojis are totally fine though.

Doris Alikado talks about her personal experience of maternal health in Tanzania.

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Stella Artois


Bathrobe. Socks. Insurance card. Snacks.

Sound at all familiar? Maybe, maybe not.


These items would commonly be found on a checklist of things that expecting parents should bring to the hospital with them — in the U.S., anyway.

environment, health, health wellbeing

Doing the checklist.

Image created from Pixabay.

But what is that list like in other parts of the world?

For Doris, that list included water.

Doris, who lives Morogoro, Tanzania, had to bring her own water to the health center where she was giving birth in 2014. The water she brought was used to clean the nurse's hands, clean the delivery area, and wash the babies (she had twins!). Unfortunately, the water Doris brought ran out before she was able to wash herself or her clothes, so she had to wait 24 hours before cleaning herself.

parenting, parenting and children, Tanzania

Doris and family lives in Morogoro, Tanzania.

via GQ/YouTube

I'll let Doris tell the story herself:

Lack of access to clean water in Tanzania is a very big deal.

Everything turned out alright for Doris and her babies, but thousands of other women aren't as lucky. But there are ways to help: Organizations and individuals are pitching in to help build water taps, rainwater tanks, and latrines in Tanzanian hospitals, and they're making a huge difference.

"I want to express my gratitude to the health workers ... because they have a great sense of humor with the patients. But the problem is the availability of enough water." — Doris Alikado


This article originally appeared on 03.26.15

New baby and a happy dad.


When San Francisco photographer Lisa Robinson was about to have her second child, she was both excited and nervous.

Sure, those are the feelings most moms-to-be experience before giving birth, but Lisa's nerves were tied to something different.

She and her husband already had a 9-year-old son but desperately wanted another baby. They spent years trying to get pregnant again, but after countless failed attempts and two miscarriages, they decided to stop trying.


Of course, that's when Lisa ended up becoming pregnant with her daughter, Anora. Since it was such a miraculous pregnancy, Lisa wanted to do something special to commemorate her daughter's birth.

So she turned to her craft — photography — as a way to both commemorate the special day, and keep herself calm and focused throughout the birthing process.

Normally, Lisa takes portraits and does wedding photography, so she knew the logistics of being her own birth photographer would be a somewhat precarious new adventure — to say the least.

pregnancy, hospital, giving birth, POV

She initially suggested the idea to her husband Alec as a joke.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"After some thought," she says, "I figured I would try it out and that it could capture some amazing memories for us and our daughter."

In the end, she says, Alec was supportive and thought it would be great if she could pull it off. Her doctors and nurses were all for Lisa taking pictures, too, especially because it really seemed to help her manage the pain and stress.

In the hospital, she realized it was a lot harder to hold her camera steady than she initially thought it would be.

tocodynamometer, labor, selfies

She had labor shakes but would periodically take pictures between contractions.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Eventually when it was time to push and I was able to take the photos as I was pushing, I focused on my daughter and my husband and not so much the camera," she says.

"I didn't know if I was in focus or capturing everything but it was amazing to do.”

The shots she ended up getting speak for themselves:

nurse, strangers, medical care,

Warm and encouraging smiles from the nurse.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

experiment, images, capture, document, record

Newborn Anora's first experience with breastfeeding.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Everybody was supportive and kind of surprised that I was able to capture things throughout. I even remember laughing along with them at one point as I was pushing," Lisa recalled.

In the end, Lisa was so glad she went through with her experiment. She got incredible pictures — and it actually did make her labor easier.

Would she recommend every mom-to-be document their birth in this way? Absolutely not. What works for one person may not work at all for another.

However, if you do have a hobby that relaxes you, figuring out how to incorporate it into one of the most stressful moments in your life is a pretty good way to keep yourself calm and focused.

Expecting and love the idea of documenting your own birthing process?

Take some advice from Lisa: "Don't put pressure on yourself to get 'the shot'" she says, "and enjoy the moment as much as you can.”

Lisa's mom took this last one.

grandma, hobby, birthing process

Mom and daughter earned the rest.

Photo via Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

This article originally appeared on 06.30.16