You betcha! Most of us are aware that life in the 21st century is a lot more complicated than in the last one. We are connected with the rest of the world like never before, and we have constant stimulation, morning to night. This contributes to our everyday stress and adds an unhealthy layer to our already over-stressed lives. There are stressors beyond our control such as the traffic (!), and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of minor stressors that occur daily at home and at work. If you come home from work (or at least out of your home office) drained from having worked for hours, and you see a pile of laundry that needs to be done, well, this can cause you to explode even though it’s an everyday type of task.
So, if your home (or even your office) is very cluttered, then you might not even have any time or place where you can unwind. Wouldn’t you rather try to relax in a nicely organized space? Of course, if you are used to having clutter around you, an organized area might not seem normal. However, once you achieve organization and acclimate to it, you will see it has been proven to be a stress releaser!
We know that an organized space can help you relieve stress. Cleaning up and organizing your space can also give you a sense of achievement, something to be proud of. Going through all of your things, you can decide what you need to keep, what you can give away, and what could also be thrown away. A keepsake memento to remember someone in your past or an event/achievement you’re proud of is something that would be healthy. But it doesn’t have to be much to keep that cherished memory alive. You might have some pictures of ex-partners and other people and you can ask yourself if you really need to keep those. You might have some kitchen paraphernalia you once used, but don’t anymore. You might have some older clothes you haven’t been wearing for some time. Letting go of things from the past, outside of some small mementos, can help free you emotionally and enable you to move forward with greater ease. This can even help boost your self-esteem.
Your brain actually likes organization! Clutter can be damaging to your brain’s health. Clutter can interfere with your sleep, and it can certainly make you anxious or even depressed. It can also adversely affect your ability to focus. If you are one of the many emotional eaters, clutter can trigger you to reach out for more food than your body actually needs, plus you might choose unhealthy, junky foods. Researchers have found that people who have a cluttered home have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), leaving you in a low-level fight-or-flight mode, a constant nagging stressor. Researchers have also examined the positive effect of decluttering – it does indeed help improve focus, and it makes your productivity better, whether it be at work or at home. Organization helps your brain process information.
If decluttering seems overwhelming, by all means reach out for help from trusted friends and family members. You can also do it in smaller steps – perhaps 10 minutes at a time, to be increased as you are able. Some things are very emotional, and you should take good care of yourself while in this all-important process of letting go. And if it seems like you just can’t do it at all, it might be time to seek some professional counseling. A change in diet (to a healthier one) and other lifestyle habits could also be pivotal in helping you handle so much stress during the decluttering process and help release you to move forward in all areas of your life.
As always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.