All these challenging months stuck inside has made one thing clear — we have way too much stuff (78% of Americans state that COVID-19 made them realize this). Before the pandemic, it was easy to brush it off — after all, it’s just innocent little things (and you can always run from those). But locked up within four walls, surrounded by the things we accumulated and unable to leave, is a different kind of horror story.
So, let’s take a look at what clutter does to us — and how getting rid of it helps.
What Clutter Does To Your Mind
According to one study, our brains don’t approve of chaos — all of those disorganized bookshelves and cupboards, closets, and bathrooms can cause us stress, anxiety, or even depression. A bit of mess may not seem like a big deal, but it is.
Cumulative stress can change the way we digest food (for the worse) or even put us at risk of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. And the worst part is that the clutter affects our emotions and how we respond to others’ feelings. The next time you raise your tone at your child or your partner, it may be because of all of the things you didn’t throw out.
While we’re talking about kids, did you know that it has been scientifically proved that they play better with a smaller amount of toys than with more toys? Given fewer options, their attention spans are better, and they play for a much longer time.
In general, it has been shown that people in cluttered homes have poor sleep patterns and quality, tend to be overweight, and overall happiness is reduced.
To conclude, clutter is not only unsightly but also bad for our bodies and minds.
Cleaning Can Be Therapeutic
Some people clean as a way to calm themselves down (me, for one). And in reality, there is something almost meditative about the repetitive movements involved. Not to mention how everything looks better after, and your life becomes calmer for it.
Getting rid of things can feel like there’s a weight being lifted off your chest — and your mind. Imagine throwing that annoying, loud toy that no one plays with anymore (but it still takes up space), or throwing away those old clothes that you never wear anymore? You’d finally be able to see the clothes that you do like.
Less stuff means that your daily activities will be a lot simpler. For example, if you organize your cupboards — and throw the unnecessary stuff out — you’ll have a much easier time cooking or making your morning coffee. As a bonus, you’ll be able to find everything and avoid frustration.
Considering how much we can’t control during these trying times, exercising control over your clutter can be enlightening. Clean out your drawers and organize them. Turn that junk drawer into a safe haven for the objects you often need but can’t ever find. Create capsule wardrobes for your family members.
When it comes to toys, there are a few roads you can take. The easier one is to pack toys in containers and take most of them to a basement or similar storage space. Then, when your kids get bored with one box, replace it with a different one.
Since this is not getting rid of clutter but simply moving it to a different place, you can try an even better solution — donate most of the toys. Keep the ones your kids love or can’t go a few days without.
That way, they will appreciate what they have more, and they’ll learn a beautiful lesson about cherishing your possessions without not overdoing it.
The same goes for your own items — keep those that you love, that make you happy, that make you smile. Not that silly little trinket on your shelf that kids keep knocking over and that you always have to move around to dust.
The Benefits of Respecting What You Own
As the queen of tidying up, Marie Condo has said — consider your stuff’s feelings. Are they happy being shuffled around, squashed in the back of the closet, forgotten by your kids? Wouldn’t those things be happier being used?
So, take a good look at the things you own. What do you truly love? What makes you smile? What do you need? The things that fit that bar, you should keep. Some things won’t and that’s okay — you can donate them. They will get a new, happier life.
Those things that you do keep will get more respect than they used to. That beautiful dress you love wearing will have a nice place in your closet (and on you). That teddy bear your child only sleeps with can turn into their favorite, everyday toy. And your most treasured books will be on full display and read regularly.
And within all of this, you will feel like a happier, more peaceful version of yourself.