I know I’m not the only one who has to clean their room before sitting down to study. Something about a cluttered workspace creates an environment where practically nothing can get done. Many are under the impression that if we have these feelings we need to worry. “Does this mean I have OCD?” There is no need to freak out over wanting a certain appearance. But why do we prefer a neat, tidy space over a messy, comfy one? Obviously there’s the external impression we’re giving others to think about. No one wants the embarrassment of their guests seeing a bra laying on the side of the bed. But there’s something more to it. Feeling organized helps us feel more in control. Maybe this is why, if given the option, many of us find comfort in a clean room. Stacking, folding, and sweeping, although not very euphoniously pleasing (something that sounds fun to the ears), are still very effective forms of stress relief.
We can go as deep as what shapes we prefer, too. Scientists conducted a study in the AAAS Art Gallery in Washington in which they showed visitors a series of shapes. These shapes were nothing but blobs with varying appendages. However, the ones that tended to be curvier were the ones the majority liked (Megan Gambino). Our brains gravitate towards shapes without straight lines or sharp edges, not only in art, but also in architecture- and attraction. Men are instinctively attracted to women with curves. And both genders are more attracted to someone with a symmetrical face.
What benefits do these things have for our bodies and minds?
Like I said before, stress relief. Lance Hosey of the New York Times tells us in an article that anxiety levels will drop up to 60% after subjects look at someone or something that, to them, is aesthetically satisfying. On the other hand, more complicated images can fatigue our eyes, simply by being in our field of vision for too long.
So! Next time you’re struggling to focus on an essay, or feeling stressed out, take a second to rearrange your room, or visit an art museum.