This month we have been focusing on our health and wellness on the podcast. We’ve discussed how we can take charge of our health, the importance of friendships in relation to our health, and how our calendars can affect our health.
Today I want to talk about one last topic concerning our health…how being disorganized and living in a cluttered home can affect our health.
I talk to women all the time who say they want to be more organized, whether it’s in their homes or in their lives in general. And I have found out when they say they want to be more organized they usually mean they want a Pinterest perfect organization system. Or they want to be able to find items and papers around their house more easily.
One thing I don’t think they take into account, though, is the need to declutter and get rid of the unnecessary. Now, I’m not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination. However, I’ve come to realize over the last few months how bothered I am about stuff. I’m always trying to find things to get rid of. And I’m pickier about what I purchase and allow in my home.
Reasons I Feel My Stuff Should Be Minimized
Even if everything is picked up and put away, I still have closets that are overflowing with things we don’t need anymore.
Even though I can’t physically see all the stuff in those closets, I know it’s there and it makes the atmosphere in our home feel stifling. Or at least to me. I’m not sure how my family feels because they don’t really know what’s all in the closets since it doesn’t belong to them.
Knowing I have to care for a lot of stuff overwhelms me.
When I have to continually shuffle papers, maintain an excessive amount of clothing, or dust knick-knacks, I find myself putting off taking care of things. And then everything starts to pile up and my home looks even worse.
So what does that have to do with my health?
It’s simple really. Both reasons I mentioned for embracing less stuff are connected to my mental health. When I feel like we have too much stuff in our home I’m overwhelmed. And when I’m overwhelmed I can become discouraged or depressed. And when I’m discouraged or depressed, I’m less likely to take care of myself well.
For instance, if I’m overwhelmed by my home and stuff I may find that it’s hard to cook because the kitchen is a mess all the time. Or I can’t get to my pots and pans easily. So it becomes a lot easier to eat out or pick something up to bring home instead of cooking. And we all know that eating out a lot is not good for our health.
Or if you have so much stuff that you can’t maintain your home, you’re less likely to have people over and you’re more likely to become discouraged or distressed. None of these things is good for your health.
I feel that clutter is just an outer manifestation of inner turmoil and confusion. Think with me for a minute. How does clutter come about? It may seem that it just appears once you’ve turned your back.
5 Reasons Clutter Typically Comes About
We bring something home or get papers in the mail and we just don’t know what to do with them.
There is no pre-determined place to put them. So they usually end up piled on the kitchen countertops and become clutter.
We don’t have systems set up to deal with incoming paper.
As I just mentioned, our paper often ends up in piles instead of a system where we can process it and know we’re getting all the important tasks done.
We buy too much.
I have definitely been guilty of this in the past. We find things we think we can’t do without so we purchase them even if we don’t know where we’re going to put them. Then those things pile up creating more clutter.
We hang onto things for way too long.
I’m a sentimental person and hang on to much more than I need to at times. In fact, the closets I mentioned earlier that I need to clean out are filled with sentimental things. When we find it hard to let go of things we really don’t have room for, we find ourselves with clutter.
We find it hard to make decisions about what to let go of.
Often when we attempt to get rid of clutter, we can be stalled because we come across something a close relative gave us. Or we find clothes with the tags still on them but we know we’re not going to wear for whatever reason. We just find it hard to let some things go. So instead of choosing to let those things go, we hold onto them and end up with more clutter.
So as you can see, there are many reasons we have clutter. And to be honest, I feel like even the most organized people still have to battle clutter from time to time. Because it’s just one of those things you have to stay on top of no matter what kind of systems you have in place.
I mentioned earlier that I hear women sharing how they want to be organized in their lives overall. Not just in their homes. They find themselves running from one thing to another and don’t know how to stop. They also feel like they can’t remember to do things because their schedules are too full.
I addressed how our calendars can affect our health in the last episode. Click here to listen to that episode.
We’ll keep our focus on organization and decluttering for the rest of this episode.
Now that we know a lack of organization or an overabundance of clutter can affect our health, what do we do about it?
Well, the simple answer is to declutter. But we all know it’s really not that simple.
Remember all those reasons I mentioned earlier about how clutter comes about? Yeah, those have all applied to me at one time or another. And while I certainly don’t have a grip on all my clutter, I’ve made tons of progress over the years. I’m at a point where it doesn’t take too long to clean up messes when clutter begins to pile up.
What I’ve Learned About Decluttering Over The Years
I find it helpful to determine why you want to declutter.
This may seem like an odd thing to determine. I mean who doesn’t want to live in an orderly and decluttered home? But when it comes down to actually decluttering, we sometimes need the motivation to get started. Because, let’s be honest, decluttering is not all that fun. So having a good reason for decluttering will help you to get going and keep you on task.
When I get stuck trying to decide if I should get rid of an item, I ask myself this question.
If I had to move to a new home, would the item be something I’d be willing to pack up, transport to the new house, unpack, and find a place for? Often when you look at an item in the light of having to move it, it makes you think about how important the item really is. I can tell you that by asking this one question, I’ve been able to get rid of tons of stuff.
When it comes to family heirlooms or memorabilia it’s hard to part with things that have a lot of meaning.
If you find these types of things are becoming clutter in your home, you may need to consider doing something else with them. Perhaps someone else in your family would like to have or would have a use for some of your treasures. That way the item can stay in the family.
Or, if you have lots of pictures or smaller items that you don’t want to part with, you may consider figuring out a way to display them and incorporate them into your home’s decor. Get them out of storage and make a place for them in your home.
With kid’s items and memorabilia, I would say to pare down as much as you can. I know this is hard. I’ve got kids and I used to save everything they did at school. Finally, after getting tired of drowning in papers and artwork, I decided to just keep a couple of things from each grade. If I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to keep, I would either take a picture or scan the items that I didn’t have room for. So now I just have a small sample of things they’ve done that is manageable. If they don’t want to keep it when they get out on their own, they can get rid of it.
Little by little adds up to a lot of progress over time.
Taking even just 15 minutes a day to work on a drawer or one shelf in a closet can lead to a decluttered space in a short amount of time. You may have heard this tip before and are discounting it because it seems too good to be true. But I promise if you give it a try it will work.
Think about it, if you can see some progress in as little as 15 minutes a day, you will be more motivated to keep going. And you’ll start to feel the relief and peace that comes from getting rid of the unnecessary. I can’t think of a better way to begin improving your health and peace of mind.
So as you can see, it just takes a little determination, motivation, and a plan to get your home decluttered. And getting your home decluttered can help improve your health by removing the burden of caring for so much stuff and helping you to appreciate what you have.
What about you? Do you have an issue with clutter? Are you discouraged or distressed by your clutter? Or is it affecting your health in some way? Leave a comment and let me know!