I read an article in Natural Solutions magazine that really made me think. It asked the question, is clutter affecting your health? I had never really considered this even as a possibility before. Here is what I learned.
In this article, clutter was defined as anything that gets between you and the life you'd like to be living. It claims that it is impossible to be your best and healthiest self in a cluttered space. We lose our ability to focus on what we're doing in the midst of a mess. This loss of mindfulness can lead into an unhappy cycle. A PhD at Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living says that clutter can make us depressed and being depressed can make us cluttered. "Depression contributes to clutter by causes fatigue, giving one less energy and motivation, and impairing ability to focus," and then "having a lot of clutter leads people to feel ashamed and socially anxious." There are even speculations that clutter can lead to overeating and weight gain.
How can we combat this? Decluttering! This is the process that Brad and I went through.
-throw away obvious garbage and put recycling in the recycling bin
-do what is visible first - countertops, desks, etc
-empty out a drawer/cupboard working on one at a time
-consider each of the objects - do I need/use/love it, how would life be without it
-pack up unwanted items to donate
Brad and I have eliminated multiple boxes and garbage bags in the last couple of months, and we're not done yet. We essentially got rid of everything we didn't use or love. In fact, we even got rid of some things we sort of love because they really have no place in our life right now. I think it is important to figure out what we want from our lives, not what we want for our lives. Deep down inside myself I know that authenticity, serenity, and joy are more desirable than a new wardrobe, the latest iPad, or a new car. We are trying to break the cycle of consumerism that society so heavily pushes. Buying less stuff is also so much better for the environment. I don't consider it denying myself or losing out on anything. It is about freedom, space, and time. While browsing Pinterest, I pine over simple, open rooms like this:
Minimizing and decluttering are ongoing processes that require constant maintenance. This is the hardest part for me. It is encouraging though that little changes really can make a big difference. You can start anytime, anywhere, with anything. Every little bit helps.
What are your strategies for decluttering or maintaining?