Clutter may be impacting your health more than you think
Parents have enough to stress about without adding to it unnecessarily.
Stress-reduction techniques have been scattered throughout our previous articles (e.g. mind-body approaches, mindfulness practices, investing in self-care and ‘me’ time, strengthening relationships), however controlling some of the causes of our stress can also help us cope with the uncontrollable.
A disorganised, clutter-filled home is not only a symptom of stress but can also be another unnecessary source of stress, and can have a profound effect on mood, self-esteem and, subsequently, energy levels.
This is not to say that a parent’s home must always be clean and tidy (a near impossibility when you have children around!), however, our homes can easily become filled to the brim with ‘things’ we don’t really need or want. Without even noticing it, we surround ourselves with unnecessary, energy-draining clutter; clutter which creates a negative environment for those living within it.
The Side Effects of Clutter
- – Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, tactile, etc.), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important
- – When we’re surrounded by more things than we can manage, it sends a message that our life is out of control
- – The ongoing stress from clutter can even have negative effects on the immune system, heart, lungs and other key physiological functions
- – Being surrounded by clutter can make it difficult to truly unwind and relax
- – Attachment to clutter is an emotional condition that can bring with it embarrassment, stress and depression; at its worst, it becomes hoarding
- – Clutter can cause a cascade of negative emotions. For example, when looking at a messy closet you can feel stressed at the lack of organisation, guilty that you don’t wear half of what you own, and confused as to what kind of style you’re even going for
- – Clutter can hold us back from getting stuff done in life
The Benefits of Decluttering
- – Throwing away old things can give the mind clarity, focus, peace and balance
- – The ability to generate fresh energy, create mental and physical space, and release negative emotions
- – Less stuff means less to take care of, which means more time to spend elsewhere
- – More control over the environment means less physical and emotional stress
- – We feel stronger and more confident; less ashamed and guilty
- – A sense of freedom comes with regained control over life
- – We can concentrate for longer periods of time, because our brain is not trying to process the added stimuli
- – It can increase our quality of sleep as a result of decreased stress levels
- – Boosts to mood, and the moods of those around us
How to Declutter
Fortunately, unlike other more commonly recognised sources of stress, clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix. More and more people are starting to get on-board with reducing clutter, particularly with the rise in popularity of the show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’. Cleaning stuff out can be a hard task, however.
We may not be able to throw out, re-purpose, sell, donate, give away or recycle many things at the same time, so instead of setting aside a huge chunk of time to declutter, make it into a little challenge. This way, decluttering won’t seem like such a monumental task to fit into a busy life.
Here are 7 simple steps to get going with decluttering:
- 1. Start small, even if it’s only with a single drawer or cupboard. Starting with the bedroom is ideal, as it can help create a relaxing space that may be needed.
- 2. Make decluttering a quick 15-minute weekly routine, and schedule it in.
- 3. Get in the habit of putting things away where they belong, rather than ‘doing it later’, and ask the members of your household to do the same.
- 4. Store away rarely used items, and dispose or donate unused ones.
- 5. Use plenty of containers when storing items.
- 6. Have friends help, as they aren’t as attached to your things as you are.
- 7. Teach your kids to be responsible for their mess, and follow your ‘decluttering lead’.
Finally, here are a few additional helpful hints from others who have successfully built decluttering into their routine:
- – go through the wardrobe each season and donate any unused items from the previous season to charity
- – each December, go through the kids’ toys and find those that are unused or have no sentimental value, then have your kids come along to donate them to a local Christmas toy drive
- – regularly donate ‘play’ clothes that no longer fit the kids to local childcare centres to use as spares
- – look out for any charity call-outs for unwanted items to prompt a search of the house for anything that can be given to someone in need; which isn’t always possible, of course.
If you need any help with supporting employees to manage stress and clutter, or would like to know more about our parent support programs, then please give us a call today on 0402 294 953. We’d love the opportunity to help!