Reduce stress by clearing your clutter

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you have heard about Marie Kondo and her “Konmari” method of organization.

A few years ago, a client of mine actually recommended Kondo’s book – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  (Looking at you @daphneblueunderworld)  I read it in a single sitting and an hour later had EVERY article of clothing in my closet and dresser in a pile on my bedroom floor.  

I picked up each item and the choice to keep or give away items was only partially “Does this ‘spark joy’ for me.”  The process had me ask questions like “Am I keeping this because someone gave it to me and I feel bad not keeping it?  Am I keeping this because it was expensive but I secretly know I am not likely to ever wear it again?” When you start to get real with yourself about WHY you are holding on to your clutter, it starts to become clear how unnecessary it is.  It is very freeing!

When I was done I had honestly bagged up ¾ of my entire wardrobe to give away.   You know that feeling of flip, flip, flip as you are going through your closet looking for something to wear and you flip past the same things you are likely to almost never wear day after day?  Its depressing. After this little experiment, there was no more of that and it was amazing. My closet was very sparse but when I thumbed through the remaining items, all that was there were things that I LOVED.  It made me so happy!

In their article “Why Mess Causes Stress”, Psychology Today lists 8 ways that clutter leads to so much stress:

  1. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
  2. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
  3. Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
  4. Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
  5. Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
  6. Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
  7. Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm, and problem solve.
  8. Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter).

Maybe you aren’t ready to Konmari your whole house (yes it is a verb now).  That’s OKAY! We are all about SMALL shifts towards bigger goals.  Why not start by trying to clear your purse or your car or your inbox.  I bet you’ll see that putting some order to one small part of your environment will make you want to do more.  This is what its all about! So try it! Where will you start?