It's human nature to turn to repetitive behaviors like cleaning as a way to self-soothe.
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I don’t know about you, but my apartment has never been cleaner. Like many Americans who are self-isolating to prevent further spread of COVID-19, for the past few weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. Surprisingly, my self-care activity of choice hasn’t been Netflix, knitting, or meditation. Nope, with the world crumbling around me, I’ve been cleaning.

And apparently, I’m not alone.

“People are feeling increasingly overwhelmed and powerless in the face of COVID-19,” Maggie Vaughan, a New York-based psychotherapist, confirmed to HuffPost. “The uncertainty about where the situation’s headed is intolerable for us.”

When things feel out of our control, it’s human nature to turn to repetitive behaviors like cleaning as a way to self-soothe.

“We know the end result and we know how to get there. That’s a very comforting notion,” Vaughan said of cleaning. “People like to be able to predict things, to know what’s coming. From a survival perspective, predictability allows us to plan and better protect ourselves from potential threats.”

This was confirmed by a 2015 study from University of Connecticut which found that temporary anxiety can lead to cleaning more meticulously. The reason? Control.

"We want to be able to do something when we get anxious, and what we really want is to be in control and take action," Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Hack Your Anxiety: How to Make Anxiety Work for You, in Life, Love, and All That You Do, told Good Housekeeping. "While there are times we have to accept some situations in life, we do not have to accept an untidy home."

And with so much going on in the world, a messy house seems more unbearable than ever.

"Yes, you’re taking control of something that you can, but you’re also making your environment more soothing," Clark explained. "Since there are other concerns occupying your mental state, you cannot tolerate disorder because you need tolerance for what is going on with the bigger issues in your life."

You can say that again!