Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Clinical psychologist Monica Vermani.Agnes Ziesz/Supplied

Cleaning and tidying may be near the bottom of the list when it comes to most people’s favourite activities, but research shows that maintaining a tidy space is an essential component of prioritizing mental health and well-being.

In fact, the state of one’s home might just directly correlate to how that person is feeling on the inside, according to Monica Vermani, a Toronto-based clinical psychologist and author of A Deeper Wellness.

“To a large extent, the state of your home environment is an outward reflection of your inner world,” says Vermani. “A chaotic, cluttered, messy home often reflects that an individual is not in charge and in control of their life and may be feeling anxious, overwhelmed, unable to concentrate or restless.”

Research demonstrates that a clean environment gives people a feeling of control over their space, creates a sense of order and certainty, and increases the ability to focus. It’s also a strong predictor of good health, and the very act of cleaning has been shown to support a positive mood.

But life is often busy, and household chores can easily fall to the wayside during chaotic periods. Putting too much pressure on oneself to maintain a spotless space while juggling life’s other responsibilities can likewise have negative consequences, Vermani says, such as causing conflicts in relationships and unnecessary stress. The key, in that case, might be keeping your home clean enough to reap the mental-health benefits without overloading yourself with tasks.

While maintaining a tidier home is a common New Year’s resolution, figuring out where to start can be challenging. The Globe and Mail spoke to three Canadians about how they keep their places clean enough to experience the benefits that come from having an organized, tidy space.

Open this photo in gallery:

Samara ShuterSupplied

Samara Shuter, Artist

Life-saving product: IKEA SOCKERBIT storage bins ($24.99 at

Time-saving hack: Make sure everything has its place

Samara Shuter is a contemporary visual artist who runs her own studio in Toronto. Though her paintings are known for their colourful “sunny maximalism,” she prefers to keep her spaces quite the opposite.

Open this photo in gallery:

White storage bin from IKEA.Supplied

In both her work studio and home – which she shares with her wife and their 20-month-old baby – Shuter takes a minimalistic, clutter-free approach. She’s a firm believer in the idea that every object, from boots to dental floss, should have its rightful place. To do this, she uses simple storage units, such as white bins from IKEA, to ensure any mess can be tackled quickly and efficiently.

Shuter and her wife take organization to the next level by printing labels for each of their bins, a step that surely goes beyond the goal of being just neat enough, but helps Shuter to feel calm and satisfied.

“My brain works in a very symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing way,” she says. “If someone said, ‘Do you love ice cream or do you love walks on the beach?’ I’d say, ‘I love symmetrical organization.’ It brings me a joy that I cannot explain.”

Open this photo in gallery:

Gillian GilliesVirginia Macdonald Photographer Inc./Supplied

Gillian Gillies, Interior Designer

Life-saving product: Dyson V8 Origin ($549.99 at

Time-saving hack: Start each day with a clean slate

Toronto-based interior designer Gillian Gillies is an expert in the aesthetics of indoor spaces, so it’s no surprise she keeps her home and office tidy. Like Shuter, Gillies avoids clutter by ensuring every object has its place. She also makes it a priority to clear off her desk at the end of each workday, providing herself with a “blank canvas” for the following day.

Open this photo in gallery:

Dyson V8 Origin vacuum.Supplied

While cleanliness is important to Gillies, she can’t stand the smell of chemical cleaning products, so she only uses ones that are fragrance-free, both at home and at work.

Her Dyson vacuum is her absolute favourite tool, both when it comes to cleaning and problem-solving. It’s a quick and efficient way to ensure her floors are sparkling, yes, but the activity itself also helps work through problems and clear her mind.

“Clean floors make me happy and some physical movement always helps me process what I am working on,” she says. “The team, my husband and even my puppy know what’s really going on when I start to vacuum.”

Open this photo in gallery:

Mandy MenshickSupplied

Mandy Menshick, Pastry Chef

Life-saving product: Seville Classics stainless steel shelves ($169.99 at

Time-saving hack: Clean as you go

Mandy Menshick runs a nut-free pastry business – called Em & Breez – out of her home in Montreal, which she founded because of her daughter’s nut allergy. Maintaining order and cleanliness when you live and operate a food-based business out of the same condo is no small feat, she concedes, but it’s an essential part of ensuring her work runs smoothly.

Open this photo in gallery:

Seville Classics stainless steel shelves from Costco.Supplied

Aside from her kitchen, Menshick has a second room where she keeps her extra fridge, stand-up freezer and metal shelving unit from Costco. The latter helps her stay organized, find things easily and put items away when she’s finished with them. When it comes to keeping things tidy, both in her business and life in general, Menshick’s main approach is to clean as she goes.

“If there are too many things piled up in my house or in my car, it’s chaotic,” she says. “I cannot function like that.”

Rather than letting a large mess accumulate – one that is likely to become stress-inducing – she prefers to tidy gradually. She completes small cleaning tasks more frequently instead of leaving it all until the end and creating a massive, time-consuming job. This helps Menshick stay calm and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Interact with The Globe