In the age of Marie Kondo and organizational TikTok accounts, more and more people are paring down and revamping their living spaces. But why? What are the benefits, both mentally and physically, of de-cluttering your living/working space? These days more and more people are working from home and taking a much more hands-on approach to their mental health, having a safe and healthy place to exist is so important. Not only will this make a physical difference in your daily life, but the mental benefits are far-reaching.
A more organized space comes with lower risks of asthma and allergy flare-ups. Even if your house is messy but not dirty, it’s hard to clean around piles of things. De-cluttering can help prevent bug or rodent infestations, reduce dust, mold, and mildew, which are typical triggers for asthma and allergy sufferers. Not having things laying around to be tripped on or to fall off places is also a good way to minimize avoidable injury. An excellent rule of thumb is: don’t put it down, put it away. Done with the ironing board? Don’t lean it against the wall, put it back in the closet. Opened your Amazon packages? Don’t toss the boxes in a corner, break them down and put them right in the recycling. Very soon, you’ll get into a rhythm, and it will become second nature.
Having a messy or cluttered living area can lead to all kinds of issues. An experiment done by the psychology department at the University of Minnesota concluded that while sometimes disorder can encourage creativity, an unkempt area was more often than not leading to unhealthy snacking and eating habits. Of course, there could be a multitude of reasons why people make more “convenient” food choices while living in cluttered surroundings, but it’s a good practice to make sure eating and cooking areas are clean and clear of mess. Even if the rest of your house gets away from you sometimes, keeping your kitchen and dining areas clean will make healthy choices so much easier to maintain.
Giving yourself, and your family, a clean, safe place, impacts your physical health positively and helps with your mental well-being too. Having room to move around and exist will do wonders for your mind. Purging your space of excess belongings can impact your mental health by making you feel calmer, happier, more relaxed and in control of your life. Messy or disorganized environments often increase stress for most people, says WebMD, which can result in a plethora of other problems both short-term and in the future. Clutter makes for distractions. You waste time trying to find what you need. Getting rid of that distraction will help you better focus on your daily tasks.
De-cluttering can also mean getting rid of the excess garbage we produce. Convenience has made shopping so easy for us, even just in the last decade, but has also created an abundance of waste: single-use plastic bags, Styrofoam, takeaway coffee cups, you get the idea. We can’t change the world in a day, but there are plenty of things, easy things, you can do at home to help reduce waste. Shopping at bulk stores for dried goods, spices, and baking supplies is a good start – bonus points if you bring your own containers. Got a couple of empty tomato sauce jars just lying around? Use them! They hold quite a bit and they’re easy to clean. Using what you already have on hand is a great way to avoid creating more clutter. Glass spice containers, mason jars, and reusable coffee tumblers are all excellent to use around your house and cut down on the needless plastic.
Helping to create a sustainable lifestyle sets an excellent example for the people around you as well. Get your kids involved with projects around the house. Carve out some time each week to go through a room at a time and start de-cluttering. You can use storage bins to make things easier by separating things into “Keep,” “Throw out,” “Sell” and “Donate” piles. If something is broken, throw it out. If it hasn’t been used in a set amount of time (you know what timeline would best work for your family but usually six months to one year is a good marker) sell or donate. If it’s sentimental, useful, or essential, make sure to put it in the keep pile. Go through clothes, toys, books, electronics. We have such an abundance of things in our lives that it’s impossible to use everything all the time. If you’ve upgraded your tablet recently, maybe it’s time to sell the old one. Those clothes that no longer fit your kids? One person’s trash is another’s treasure they say and something you don’t use anymore might greatly benefit another person, all from the simple act of you donating your gently used items. This will create space in your house, and doing a sustainable and good deed will also help build a habit worth continuing. Feeling accomplished and proactive has a lasting effect on our minds and sets our future generations up to continue the positivity.
This will help financially as well. Instead of constantly buying plastic sandwich bags, invest in something a little sturdier, like lidded Pyrex bowls or beeswax wraps. It might be a little more costly upfront but will save money in the long run. And reusable options help reduce the amount of trash your house produces. As well, you can use apps like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji to list the items you want to sell. They’re fast, easy to use, and reach a greater audience. Is the weather going to be good this weekend? Why not a good old-fashioned yard sale? Who doesn’t love a little extra pocket money for rainy days?
However you choose to start your decluttering journey, just remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Pace yourself, take time to make decisions regarding big things and think about how good you’re going to feel once you’ve created the space that best suits you and your family. You deserve a living space that is soothing and always feels like home.