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Gertie's Dirt: Reducing stress with house cleaning

Exercise has been shown to decrease levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Regular aerobic exercise can bring remarkable changes not just to your body, your metabolism, and your heart, but also to your spirits. Housecleaning can fill this role as easily as exercise at the gym. Running up and down the stairs, carrying items from room to room, and scrubbing windows and floors can burn calories, release endorphins, and help you blow off steam.

Start by tackling the clutter. It is stressful to look at a home filled with clutter. It reminds you of the work that needs to be done. It is hard to think straight with so much disorganization and chaos all around you. Clear the clutter and clear your mind.

If you are anxious because you are waiting for something or someone, a short burst of cleaning can pass the time and relieve the anxiety. It is much better than sitting and watching the clock tick away.

Music can also create an improved mental status. Turn on the tunes while you clean. Get into the rhythm. Move to the groove! It will get you motivated. Music will help pass the time and distract you from your worries.

Another way to calm your nerves is the use of aromatherapy. A few drops of essential oil in your water bucket while you clean will fragrance the room and bring the stress level down. Lavender in the bathroom and bedroom has a relaxing, calming effect.  Vanilla in the kitchen, dining and living room gives you a feeling of wellbeing, perhaps triggering a childhood memory of cookies baking.

When you are grateful for what you have, your stress is reduced. The results of your labor can be very gratifying.  Look around, breathe the clean air and admire your hard work. Finding the wonderful haven beneath the dirt and clutter can bring a new level of gratitude.

Once the clutter is gone and your house is clean, you will feel more like entertaining guests in your home. Studies show socializing with friends decreases stress and make us feel happy.

If housecleaning still presents a roadblock to reducing your stress, consider hiring a housekeeper to handle your cleaning tasks. Gertie's will help you get started. Once your house is back on track, well organized and clean, it is easier for you to keep it that way. Have us back as often as it takes for your house to stay clean. You should feel calm and relaxed when you are at home. It should be your sanctuary, a welcoming place of warmth and peace.

Donna Bellino is a nurse and owner of Gertie's Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health and your home.

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