Clutter has many negative effects on us including our stress levels. Clearing the clutter is therefore an act of self-love and self-care.
This is actually a rewind (or replay or how ever you want to call it) of Episode 3 of the podcast. I had quite an increase in downloads of newer episodes over the past few weeks because of course most people don't scroll all the way down and start at episode 1 when they discover a new podcast.
But because this topic is one of my most important messages and an important concept of my work and how I help my clients with clutter I felt I needed to re-publish this episode.
Clutter has so many negative effects on us, our health and in particular our stress levels, and this is backed by science and several studies, more about that later.
Clearing the clutter is therefore really an act of self-love and self-care, and it is a thoughtful and powerful approach of self-discovery and self-development.
If you are following me on social you may have noticed that I basically have no before and after posts, I also have no posts with pouring your food into different containers and labeling all these things. What might look really pretty is not getting to the root of someones problem of why clutter accumulates in the first place.
Pretty container, pretty labels etc just keep you busy treating the symptoms instead of getting to the root of the problem.
Ok without further a-do, lets dive into why I say clearing clutter is self-love.
How it all started
I coined this phrase for the first time back in 2017, it all started with preparing for the very first Decluttering challenge that my friend Vicki McLeod and I co-host in February 2018.
We did run this four week program intentionally during the month of February - the month of love, and we focused - as a community - on the clutter in our lives.
But so again, why do I say decluttering is Self-Love?
We live in a world where a lot of us are all very stressed. Clutter makes you feel even more stressed, overwhelmed, sidetracked, stuck, heavy, sluggish, uninspired, unmotivated, and sometimes even depressed. When your environment looks bad, you feel bad.
Clutter and Health Risks
Also, as the dust that is trapped by clutter affects the quality of air in your home and office and in more extreme cases the dust can lead to mold and bacteria, which all can lead to health risks, especially if you or your family members are prone to allergies or asthma.
If we just stay with the dirt and dust for a bit longer, tidy, clutter free and organized spaces are easier to get clean and keep clean. And lets be honest, for most of us, cleaning is not a favourite activity, it’s more a necessary chore.
Less clutter also means less cleaning and when we save time cleaning we then can in turn use that time for something that is (more) important to us.
So while living clutter-free and organized really helps you feel less stressed and overwhelmed, you also don’t get sidetracked as easily.
By creating space in your outer environment, you can focus more on what matters to you. You will have time and energy to put into other areas of your life.
Science backs it up
More and more scientific studies by the way support these perspectives.
In a study from 2012 and subsequent book both titled “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles observed 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and found that stress hormones spike during time spent dealing with belongings.
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published a report titled “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex” and came to the conclusion that a cluttered environment restricts our ability to focus. The clutter and chaos also limits the brain’s ability to process information.
Stanford published an article on how less clutter can reduce stress.
Why it's still difficult
So given that there are so many good reasons to declutter and research that supports the benefits, it still can be difficult?
I feel it is because we don't approach it with the right mindset. We might think it's a one time event (it's not, it's a journey), or just a fad that will go away again.
Another reason is that we are not aware how much clutter is weighing us down until we let go of some of it and experience the difference in our body.
What my mission is
I want to show you an approach and a way of decluttering that ultimately becomes simply the way you live your life. It is not about purging, minimalism, or becoming overwhelmed with tasks or overwhelmed with decluttering - that would be counter productive right.
Self-care and self-love are important, it's focusing on oneself and personal nurturing. But then again, self-care is so much more than just bubble baths, massages and other special treats,
It is just as much, if not more, creating an environment that supports you, in a very practical way, brings more ease, freedom and joy in your life.
That is looking after ourselves, loving ourselves, in other words, self-care and self-love.
Other benefits of clearing clutter
Decluttering, organizing and getting control of the stuff in your life will give a sense of accomplishment and well-being. When you let go of things that have no more room for in your life, you will physically feel the release in your body. You will feel lighter, you will feel like you are in the flow- and this will lead to feeling more energized, optimistic and happy.
Decluttering will give you and your future self elbow room. ~Vicki McLeod
Back in 2018 when we did this challenge for the first time, Vicki coined the phrase: Decluttering will give you and your future self elbow room. That is room to grow, discover, evolve and change, all at the pace of your own wisdom.
That's what I feel decluttering helps us with,
- to find ourselves and who we are
- to let go of the things and thoughts that have nothing to do anymore with who we are
- to let go of things because they maybe never had anything to do with you in the fist place.
What is your vision for how you and your family live in your home?
There is no right or wrong, a young family with small children will have different requirements than “empty nesters”, and singles or couples without children are different again.
- What stage of life are you at?
- What are your requirements for this stage?
- What is trying to emerge in your life that you might need to make room for?
Craft a vision of the perfectly functioning home for the stage of life that you are in right now.
How would your ideal home and/or office space look like?
How would it function on a day-to-day basis?
How would it support your lifestyle, your hobbies, your needs?
What about your future self?
Remember we want to make elbow room for our future self as well.
These are big questions that you don't have to and most likely can't answer right here right now. But you might want to keep them in your mind, and when you go about your day pay attention when you get stressed coming into your home or office.
See if you can take 5 minutes and clean something up to relief some of this stress. Remember,
A few minutes a day, keep the chaos away. ~Conny Graf
Our surroundings shape us
We are shaped by what we surround ourselves with. The question is, how do you want to be shaped?”
We want to surround ourselves with what tells the story of who we are now, not who we used to be. So decluttering is really a thoughtful and powerful approach of self-development.
From Chaos to Peace eBook
Vicki and I decided to created an eBook out of our 4-week challenge. Now people who prefer to work on their own, at a slower pace or for those who missed the challenge, you all can do it on your own now.
Ok, lets summarize real quick why I call decluttering an act of self-love:
- When our environment looks bad, we feel bad
- A clutter free environment helps us feel less stressed and less overwhelmed
- We don't get sidetracked as easy and therefore we can focus better
- Clutter can be a health risk, the dust and dirt affects the quality of the air, dust and dirt can also lead to mold and bacteria
- All this dust and dirt requires more time cleaning, so less time for the things we really want to do
- When you have more time for yourself you can focus on what really matters to you
- Clearing Clutter it's a tool for self-discovery and self-development, we can find ourselves and figure out who we really are
In short, self-care and self-love are important but it's much more than bubble baths, massages and special treats, it's more about creating an environment that supports us in a very practical way, brings more ease and freedom and joy in our life.
Ok my friend,that's it for today. As always, I will never tell you to get rid of anything, what I do help you see is the effect all this clutter has on you, your life and your business.
- Download your guide to set up your workspace for success
- If you want to know more about my background check out my about page
- Check out the eBook that I co-authored with Vicki McLeodFrom Chaos to Peace - a simple program to clear your clutter and change your life
- Join my Facebook Community