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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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A study in the journal Psychological Science suggests 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:

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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.

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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 courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When we think of what a Tyrannosaurus looked like, we picture a gargantuan dinosaur with a huge mouth, formidable legs and tail, and inexplicably tiny arms. When we picture how it behaved, we might imagine it stomping and roaring onto a peaceful scene, single-handedly wreaking havoc and tearing the limbs off of anything it can find with its steak-knife-like teeth like a giant killing machine.

The image is probably fairly accurate, except for one thing—there's a good chance the T. rex wouldn't have been hunting alone.

New research from a fossil-filled quarry in Utah shows that Tyrannosaurs may have been social creatures who utilized complex group hunting strategies, much like wolves do. The research team who conducted the fossil study and made the discovery include scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colby College of Maine, and James Cook University in Australia.

The idea of social Tyrannosaurs isn't entirely new—Canadian paleontologist Philip Curie floated the hypothesis 20 years ago upon the discovery of a group of T. rex skeletons who appeared to have died together—but it has been widely debated in the paleontology world. Many scientists have doubted that their relatively small brains would be capable of such complex social behavior, and the idea was ridiculed by some as sensationalized paleontology PR.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.