You’re either anxious and on pills or anxious and can’t afford a doctor’s visit. There is no in between. We live in an anxiety ridden world.

What causes anxiety is as varied the people who live with it. I have anxiety that I take a crazy pill to help control, but my anxiety is weird. The higher stress the situation has, the calmer and cooler I am. But give me a normal situation that most people never give a second thought to and you better hope I remembered to take my pill.

But a recent study (I love studies) shows there is one thing that could make us all eventually freak out: clutter.

UCLA’s Center on Every Day Lives and Families said women react worse to clutter than men, but both genders start to have trouble breathing if the house gets too piled up.

They listed seven ways clutter can do us in:

1. Clutter overwhelms us since it causes excessive stimuli so our senses go into overdrive.

2. It sidetracks us from other things we want to concentrate on.

3. It makes it more difficult to mentally and physically relax.

4. It signifies to our minds that our work is never done.

5. It also triggers stress and anxiety due to the fact that we have to think of how we are going to tidy whatever up.

6. It can hamper productivity and creativity.

7. It makes it harder for us to discover what we require and uses up area for doing other needed things on our list.

I understand how clutter can overwhelm. Everybody has one room in their house that looks like it is on the verge of exploding. Ours has exercise equipment in it surrounded by books, magazines, DVDs, tools, old kitchen appliances and videotapes that serve absolutely no purpose now.

I have often thought of attempting to clean the room, but it would eventually just get piled up again. And while I have to step carefully in it, I don’t go into it all that often, so it’s usually out of sight, out of mind.

Now, a cluttered kitchen or den can start to weigh on me. We have an island and a bar in our kitchen and they are always getting piled up. It’s usually junk mail we throw down or receipts or work-related things I forget about.

Ever so often I get a wild hair and attack the clutter in the kitchen. I throw a bunch of stuff away, shred receipts and once it’s clean enough the cat can stretch out comfortably, I swear I’ll never let it get that piled up again.

It usually takes about a week before I’m staring at the area, wondering how in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks it got that way again.

I don’t mind clutter that much in the den, mainly because it’s “book clutter” and that kind of clutter is never bad.

It’s straightened up now, but I constructed a Stephen King-only book shelf in the den this past summer and at one point there were books stacked to the ceiling and you could barely walk through it.

But it didn’t make me feel anxious. It actually made me feel good because I was working toward something and knew what the end result would look like. That’s the thing with people who have anxiety. We like routine and we like knowing how things will end. Too many possible outcomes and we’ll be climbing the walls.

And now here comes Christmas, which is filled with clutter. Wrapping paper everywhere, people everywhere, so many obligations. Like, do we buy a gift for that co-worker we just can’t stand? They’re probably not going to get us anything. And they wouldn’t appreciate it anyway. Jerk.

In conclusion, as I try to finish this neatly, if clutter is your trigger for suffering a panic attack, you have an easy way out. Clean your house! Or go outside! When you have a breakdown at the grocery store while trying to decide what milk to buy, then we can talk.

Not that such a thing has ever happened to me. Heard about it one time.

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