“Cleanliness is next to godliness”

Is it? What is it’s real value?

Queen Elizabeth I of England bathed once a month, “whether I need it or not”, she said.

James I, her successor washed only his fingers.

Henry IV of France was prominently known for his body odor (from a distance even) and his son – Louis XIII boasted, “I take after my father, I smell of armpits.” (Yuck, why?)

During 17th century Europe washing the body was actually to be avoided, and let’s not forget those nasty medieval times when cleanliness was all but non existent.

It seems the importance of cleanliness changes with time and culture. Or does it?

Historically we would have to agree that to be true. Time and culture have impacted cleanliness. But has the value of cleanliness changed just because culture has changed? Is it beneficial or harmful regardless of the times and culture? Does cleanliness have value in and of itself? Could it ever be considered “next to godliness”?

In our world of covid, crazy-cleanliness this has taken on an entirely new meaning, hasn’t it? It was during the flu epidemic of 1918 that doctors in maternity wards realized that the washing of hands helped to stop the spread of contagious fever. Now look at us, how many times have you washed your hands today or disinfected them?

Today we hear alot about “Follow the science”.

So, I want to do just that, but not as it applies to covid. What does the science tells us in 2021 about cleanliness?

First off, this is not about how clean your house is or how often you bathe. There is no judgment here. But because it is “Spring cleaning time”, I wanna know if there is any real value in cleaning. Fair? What does the science say?

What are the benefits of cleanliness?

” the state of quality of being clean or being kept clean.”

Oxford dictionary

We clean our homes, cars, appliances, tools, clothes, bodies; we seek to put clean things into our body – foods, drinks, data, influences, words. Are there benefits to this cleanliness?

An Indiana study shows a strong connection between a clean home and one’s physical fitness. Their study shows in cleaner homes were people who exercise more. Why was their question. Do they possess more energy to clean or are they more disciplined? Here are some of their findings:

  • cleanliness lowers stress and fatigue – messy tells the brain there’s work to be done and creates stress
  • it reduces allergy and asthma reactions – dust mites… need we say more
  • cleanliness improves safety – falls and fires are the number 1 cause of injuries in the home
  • it reduces germ spread – and the kitchen is the no. 1 place for this, NOT the bathroom
  • cleanliness keeps pests away – I HATE ANTS AND COCKROACHES!
  • cleanliness improves diet and the waistline – seriously! Their study showed that women eat more sweets and high fat foods when faced with daily hassles. A clean house or at least uncluttered will cut down on stress and therefore cut down on sweets. (Of course removing the candy bowls around the house would help too)

Dawn Howard, in her studies of cleanliness says,

“Benefits of cleanliness are studied for treatment of people suffering from everything from anxiety to zygomycosis.” (a rare fungal infection caused by molds)

A recent UCONN study substantiates that decluttering and cleaning helps maintain well being, positive mental attitude and is energizing.

Depression, anxiety and PTSD have been proven to be reduced in homes that are monitored for cleanliness.

Our mental condition is affected by our cleanliness and our cleanliness affects our mental condition.

Controlling negative thoughts, cutting off negative forces, influences, music, hobbies and people are vital for our own mental health, our mental healthiness.

Here are 9 ideas to do just that: (as suggested by Emil Baltman, 12/18)

  1. deal with emotions
  2. stop trying to please others
  3. face & overcome your inner critic
  4. give up bad habits
  5. take positive action
  6. learn to say no
  7. don’t blame others
  8. recognize unhealthy thought patterns
  9. don’t fear pain

There are things we each can do to be as fit as possible. But as always, it is our choice and the first step is the toughest. Dealing with cleanliness in areas of our life is a simple way to take action towards that goal, towards wholeness, less anxiety, stress and peace.

Whether we believe the Talmud,

“cleanliness… for the sake of his Maker.”

The Talmud

Or we believe a 2002 study that expressly stated,

“the effects of spa therapy have been proven to reduce pain, global well being, and stiffness…”

We can say with confidence, that cleanliness does have benefits, mental, physical, and emotional.

As to whether or not it is next to godliness, we’ll let you ponder that.

For now, take a look around you, within you; where do you see a need for a clean up?

Cheers to you.

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