Lynsey Crombie, star of Channel 4’s Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and cleaning guru on ITV’s This Morning, is passionate about cleaning and believes it can be a really therapeutic way to find order in our chaotic lives – especially now. Here, the UK’s #1 TV cleaning expert, shares how cleaning can help boost your mental health and help you gain control of your life in these turbulent times.
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It’s no secret that there are unprecedented challenges to our mental health and wellbeing while we’re all at home and social distancing in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis right now.
We can’t pop to the gym or exercise in the typical ways, so cleaning’s an important element of physical activity. It’s an opportunity to clear out cupboards and declutter wardrobes, all these activities will be really therapeutic for our bodies and minds. We can’t control what’s happening in the world, but we find a sense of order in our own homes, I found this to be true in my own life, cleaning has really helped me through some tough periods.
After I had my twin daughters, I was going through a very trying time, life had changed dramatically, and my anxiety and mental health went through the roof. I tied various forms of counselling and the doctors had put me on anti-depression medication, but I found that both of these therapies made me worse, I felt even more scared and lonely after counselling and the medication didn’t sit well with me.
The only time I found comfort was when I was cleaning and tidying. These two tasks combined gave me a purpose, kept my body moving and gave me something to do in-between managing my twins.
I didn’t tell anyone about this at the time, but I stopped the medication and the counselling and focused on my home. I gave myself a little daily routine and stuck to it and after a few weeks I found I had the confidence to start going out and about again. I always opened the windows when I was cleaning and let my home feel with fresh air, and I found living in a clean, tidy organised space allowed my mind to work better.
I started to share my story through social media three years ago and so many people found it relatable. There’s traditionally stigma attached to the stereotype of this being ‘women’s work’, but more and more people are no longer ashamed to say they enjoy or like cleaning.
Cleaning gives us a sense of control over our living environment and with cleaning being active it always helps us clear our minds and look at problems and situations from a different perspective. It gives us immense satisfaction, coming in from work to a tidy clean environment after a long stressful day at work will improve our mood.
I worked as a domestic cleaner for many years, and many homes I worked in were very badly organised and unclean, but the relief clients felt after I had restored order was unbelievable. Without dirt and clutter your mind becomes clear to focus on everything else in your life. A clean and organised home will relieve tension between yourself and other family members, when everything has its place and items are put away correctly there will almost certainly be less arguing.
Stress levels will decrease as a clean home will help you to get in a positive frame of mind, so that you’re cooking healthy meals and can sleep well in your bedroom (there’s nothing worse than hopping into a bed that is surrounded in clutter). If you can discourage germs and bacteria that can compromise your health, you’re naturally going to improve your productivity and creativity.
A clean and tidy home will also give you social confidence, so that friends and family can pop around unannounced when we’re permitted visitors again, this can be anxiety-inducing if you don’t have a clean or tidy home.
In life when we feel low and down, we often turn to an activity like running, walking, the gym, but with cleaning you can really release those endorphins at home and you’re effectively tackling two tasks at once. If you normally have a cleaner in to do your housework, but can’t in the current climate, you’ll need to get hands on and may find you actually really enjoy it.
The added bonus is that you’re burning off calories while you do it, so you’re reaping the benefits of a clean home, a clear mind and an active body. Light cleaning can burn as much as 100 calories per hour and vigorous tasks such as moving furniture and scrubbing the bath can burn up to 200 calories per hour. Neatness and order really do support our health and wellbeing.
Here are some top tips to get you started:
- Open windows
- Choose a sunny day
- Plan your tasks
- Put on some motivating music
- Turn off all distractions
- Wear something comfortable
- Try and have fun, see this as your daily exercise and reward yourself at the end, it may be something simple as tea and biscuits but give yourself a treat.
- Share your accomplishment, send a picture to a what’s app group or post on social media and let the motivation continue.
And some tips for cleaning during the Coronavirus crisis:
- Do not be tempted to keep your shoes on, shoes don’t just pick up dirt when you are out and about, but they also have the potential to introduce germs to your home.
- Hang you coat straight away do not be tempted to chuck your coat over the sofa. Virus can live on your outerwear so it’s very important you stick to this rule.
- Wipe over your bag and better still try not to even take a bag out with you at this
- If you have long hair keep it tied up when out and about
- Wash your coats them more often than normal alternatively another great option is to use a garment steam on your clothes as this will kill germs, bacteria and viruses.
Germ hot spots that need extra attention:
- Door handles, including kitchen cabinets and wardrobes
- Electrical switches
- Kettle handle
- Toilet flush
- Plug holes
- TV controls
- Fridge handles and water dispenser