“You are not your stuff, and if your stuff is not helping you create the life, mood and harmony that you want, then what’s it doing in your life?” –Peter Walsh
Spring time is almost here, and we have decided to get a jump-start on our spring cleaning.” We were encouraged after our recent visit at a friend’s house who, upon moving to a smaller home, has pretty much gotten rid of everything and started over. It was so nice to walk into their new home and to not feel so overwhelmed with stuff, which is the feeling that I get everyday in our home. As I began to walk around the house, I started to pray that God would help me and give me wisdom on what I really need and don’t need, and I can’t begin to tell you how much He has opened my eyes. In my recent research of how clutter affects us, these are some things that I have learned:
- The clutter in your home can make us feel tired all the time. For instance, if we have clutter on our bed, it could be almost impossible to get a good night’s sleep? We may have clutter in our family room that we are always having to move around to make room for others. The visual, mental, and physical effect of clutter can be exhausting and could be getting in the way of our quality family time. Once you de-clutter, you may find that you actually have the energy to go on that walk after all. Especially now that you’re getting a good night’s rest and can actually find your walking shoes.
- Clutter doesn’t allow us to live in the present or travel to the future. When all the space that we have is filled with clutter, it doesn’t allow anything new to come into our life. Our clutter can constantly be a reminder of the past, either good or bad. Clearing out our old clutter allows us to take control of our past and move forward to our future. Keeping special memories does not always require for us to keep all the things pertaining to that memory. We can get rid of the stuff without getting rid of the memory. One way is to take pictures of the items and put them in a picture album. Then we can see our memories and even share them with others without having to clutter up a room (or home) with all those things from our past.
- Clearing clutter can be an emotional release. The environment that we live in can reflect our inner environment. If there is chaos in our life, often there is chaos in our living spaces as well. A cluttered home can reflect confusion and overwhelming feelings not only in ourselves but also in others around us. Studies have shown that the ability to concentrate can increase just by clearing the space around us. If we feel that we may have a kind of attention disorder, it could just be an environmental disorder, and once our environment is clear, we are able to concentrate better.
- A cluttered area can lead to an unsanitary living space and severely affect our physical health as well as our mental health. Staring at piles of dirty dishes, mounds of clothes, or stacks of paperwork visually stimulates the brain to have negative feelings just as looking at a beautiful painting or image of the ocean tends to fill us with a sense of freedom or happiness. Decluttering our home also helps eliminate germs, dust, dirt and mold that could be contributing to the health of our family. Dust and dust mites can contribute to respiratory problems such as increased allergies and asthma. It can even contribute to the common cold and flu. Studies show that holding on to the past can also contribute to deeper health issues including depression and even heart disease, so when we clean our home, we’re actually cleaning our mind and body as well.
- Less clutter can actually save energy. Did you know that our heating and cooling system has to heat and cool all the things in our home as well as us? The theory is that the less we have in our home, the less our home has to work to keep us comfortable; therefore, saving on our energy bills each month, which is good for both us and our environment.
- The less we have, the less we have to clean. Many of us would like to save time and money cleaning our homes. To save time, we hire a cleaning company which costs money. To save money, we fire the cleaning company and do the cleaning ourselves, which takes time. Having less stuff could actually free up both the time and money for us to enjoy other things that we may not have had the time or money to enjoy before.
- Helps us take inventory of what we have. Just last week, I mentioned to my husband that I would like a pressure cooker. This week, we have spent a lot of time clearing out our home and pushed way back under the kitchen cabinets, I found a pressure cooker that I didn’t even know we had! We were planning on purchasing a pressure cooker until I found that we already owned one. That saved us money! If we find that we are constantly purchasing items over-and-over because they are lost or misplaced, it may just be a sign that we need to clear out some of the other things that we are not using, make room for the things that we are using, and get organized so that we can find the items that we already own when we actually need them.
- De-cluttering actually puts money in our pockets. Some of the things that we would like to get rid of may be of great interest to other people. There are some really great and easy methods of getting rid of our stuff, and sometimes we can sell the item and put a little portion of what we actually spent on the item back in our pockets. You could make a charitable, tax-deductible donation to many organizations around town. Some of those organizations will actually come to your home and pick it up for you. Facebook has local online community yard sale sites based on our locations. I have sold some really great things there. Some other great places are Craigslist, Ebay, or just having a good-ole yard sale. Simple note: The best way to keep even more money in your pocket is to not buy these items in the first place.
I feel deeply encouraged that I am taking control of my life and home by taking that extra step that I have been wanting to take for so long. I may even have a Decluttering Party and invite some friends to join in. It’s always good to have an outside opinion if we are on the fence about a particular item. It also holds us accountable. My dream is to feel the freedom of a decluttered, happier, healthier lifestyle and to be an influence for others to do the same.