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How Decluttering Improves Your Life

Spring Cleaning for the Soul

While it may still look like winter in a lot of places, the Vernal Equinox on March 20 means that spring has returned to the Northern Hemisphere. This event marks the beginning of nature’s rebirth. For many of us, spring instills a sense of renewal and a desire to make a fresh start. Often it starts by literally wiping the slate clean with a spring cleaning. This year, make it a spring de-cluttering and get rid of the stuff that weighs you down.

Research suggests that living in a home with too much stuff increases stress hormones, especially in women. Many women associate a tidy home with success and, therefore, see a messy, disorganized home as a sign of failure. Clutter has been linked to feelings of anxiety and irritability and affects concentration and sleep. Our homes should be a peacefulrefuge, but it’s hard to rest and relax among clutter.

That said, it’s not easy to let stuff go. We hang on to things because they hold sentimental value. We hang on to things because we paid a lot of money for them and we don’t want to see that money go to waste. We fear we’ll regret getting rid of something because maybe one day we’ll need it, or we’ll miss it. The reality is, if we haven’t used or admired or enjoyed something in the past year, we’ll barely notice it’s gone. In the meantime, we’re suffering under the weight of all that clutter. Objects have energy. Clearing out the objects we don’t need or don’t want, can help us refresh ourenergy and make room for more abundance and fulfillment in life.

De-cluttering can easily turn into an overwhelming task so make it manageable by creating a schedule that’s realistic. Don’t anticipate de-cluttering your whole place in a weekend or you could easily end up trapped under more stuff come Monday. Focus on one room a week at most and organize for no more than two or three hours at a time. Spaces that are particularly clutter-heavy can even be broken down into smaller jobs. For instance, don’t aim to de-clutter your bedroom in one day. Start with the closet. Once that’s finished, move on to dressers. Then work on nightstands, bookcases, etc. It might take multiple days but that’s ok.It’s likely taken years to accumulate all the stuff!

Once you’re ready to get to work on the clutter, start by labelling three boxes: “trash”, “sell/donate” and “keep”. Now go through every item and categorize it. Try not to re-think the items you decide to get rid of but it can’t hurt to give the “keep” box a second look. Do you really need everything here? If not, put those items in the right box.When you’re evaluating your possessions, consider the purpose of each item in your life and how it makes you feel. Don’t hold on to things that you don’t use, don’t care about or conjure up bad memories.

Now that you’ve got fewer things, the most important step is what comes next. To ensure we have less clutter, we have to be mindful of what we bring into our homes. Before you buy something, consider if you really need it. Perhaps limit yourself to purchasing only things you need to replace or throw something out every time you buy something new. Spend money more wisely by investing in more expensive items that are better quality and will last longer.

What we often learn from de-cluttering is that happiness doesn’t come from consumption. Our focus is better spent on enjoying those around us and being fully engaged in our experiences—the sort of things that truly feed our souls.