Emotional Benefits of De-Cluttering

By: Betty Nufer, Pueblo Program Director, Spark the Change Colorado Mental Wellness Program Originally Posted By: The Pueblo Chieftain

I spent the better half of my winter vacation cleaning out crammed closets, overflowing cabinets and jam-packed drawers. (Doors on some closets had to be slammed quickly in order for things to not spill out.) I have known for quite a long time there was a deep clean “a-coming”. I have been so busy I have neglected the everyday organizing that it takes to keep everything spiffy. And, truthfully, I just didn’t want to start because I knew how much work it would be. Surprisingly, I didn’t count on the benefits of immense self-satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment that went along with organizing and throwing out unneeded stuff.

While decluttering, it occurred to me that the closets could be an analogy for a cluttered mind? and it seems I was right. Physical clutter has everything to do with mind clutter.

Everyone has their own idea of organizing and maintaining a tidy wellkept home. I know of people who actually have empty drawers and closets and believe in a minimalist life-style. I know others who have every nook and cranny full of belongings. Both are fine and up to the individual.

According to Mia Danielle, a well-known holistic life organizer, research has shown that there are four major negative psychological effects of clutter. These would be that: Stress causes increased cortisol levels that can last long-term. This stress can cause physical and mental illness and makes it harder to focus concentrate.

Feelings of shame or inadequacy can lead to depression. Feeling overwhelmed can cause anxiety and panic attacks as well.

Distraction or not being able to focus can kill productivity. Having clutter everywhere makes it hard to know where to start when organizing and we can end up spinning our wheels.

Negative behavioral effects can come from clutter. Loneliness and not having personal relationship may cause over indulging in food or alcohol and inactivity.

If we want to get our environment in check, we must make changes and that takes throwing or giving away items. Those changes may be difficult because “things” carry memories or may have sentimental value and it may feel as if you are throwing away memories from a vacation instead of a just an old used coffee mug.

There are some easy steps to make cleaning the clutter a little easier on the mind and heart.

  • Clear out one designated area at a time.
  • Do a walk through that area and put things in a throw away pile and a give-away pile.
  • Ask yourself these questions: Do I use it? Does it fit? Does it work? Can someone use it more?
  • Once you have your piles, get rid of the items you don’t want so that you don’t bring them back in to the room.
  • Do a weekly run-through and remove more items if needed.

When we declutter and let go of things no longer useful, it clears our thinking. Our mind won’t look around and see things that need attention, it will see an organized lifestyle that is relaxed and orderly.

Betty Nufer is the Pueblo Area Director for the Mental Wellness Program powered by Spark the Change Colorado and is a lifelong resident of Pueblo. To learn more about accessing free mental health care, email bnufer@sparkthechangecolorado.org or call 719-821-2892

Betty Nufer, Pueblo Program Director

Copyright © 2021 The Pueblo Chieftain, Pueblo, CO. 1/10/2021
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