We've all been there: a bedroom filled with piled-up clothes, books you're definitely going to read one day, and four hundred socks, or a living room strewn with old tea cups and an apparently infinite number of magazines. Seeing clutter regularly is sometimes an unavoidable fact of life: people form attachments to their possessions for obvious reasons, and since we live in a society where we're encouraged to buy things constantly, we often end up with living areas full of Disorganized Stuff. Unless you're a true minimalist or can organize your life like a pro, you've likely lived among clutter at some point — and it turns out that it's actually kind of stressful for your brain to exist among a bunch of mess.
There's definitely value in streamlining your stuff. Marie Kondo's tidy-and-toss KonMari method went viral a few years ago, and her new Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, is a massive hit, with its deceptively simple maxim to only keep those things which "spark joy" in your life. Apart from the benefits of having a tidier space (not feeling the pressure to read all those books you promised yourself you'd dig into, perhaps?), there's a good neurological reason to get rid of things that can't neatly be tucked away. Here's what your brain does when faced with mess.