Why Our Clutter Is Ruining Our Health

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Until I became a minimalist…

I never understood how the things in my home could be connected to my health and especially my stress. I mean they were just things right? Lots and lots of things but still, just things. And then one day I had this need to get everything out of my home that didn’t belong and suddenly it all made sense.

I learnt quickly, that things can in fact weigh us down and because of the cluttered living spaces we surround ourselves in, our clutter is directly affecting our moods and our health. There have been studies done, on women in particular, linking our levels of stress cortisone, to the amount of items in our homes. So for some of us, our stuff is literally making us ill. This excess is emotionally draining and depriving us of living in a clearer space, which could go some way to making us well.

Now of course I can’t speak for every woman. We are all different, with an array of personalities and needs and some of us love a cosy, maximalist home. However clutter isn’t the things that bring us joy, it is the put off decisions that haven’t been made. That baby grow that we can’t decide whether to keep and so we put it in a box. That dress that cost a lot but isn’t our style anymore. Or those old mementos that we just don’t know where to put. All of these postponed decisions are taking up space inside our homes and our heads, we just don’t know it yet.

Because we can’t deal with the feelings that these things bring, if we don’t open the box. If we don’t face up to why we need to hold onto these belongings, these emotions will stay and take up more room, than you ever thought possible. I wrote two blogposts titled, ‘Why I Held Onto My Things’ and ‘The Cupboard Under The Stairs’, which can be found in the blog section of my homepage, if you want to read about the type of emotional clutter I mean.

Anyway, I’m sure most of us have a loft, or a garage, or a shed, probably filled to the rafters with stuff. Decisions to be made another day because the stress we are feeling now, means that we can’t deal with them today. Surely that’s proof enough, that the items we don’t know what to do with, are causing us stress?!

I was in that place for so long but instead of the mess being limited to my loft, I felt it in every room of my home. I was suffocated by clutter and the option to breathe, was getting buried underneath all of these things, that I didn’t even want or need.

You see, we make thousands of decisions a day. Hundreds upon hundreds of decisions, from what to wear, to what to have for tea. And these things, no matter how big or small, demand our time and our attention, resulting in decision fatigue. It is a fog that follows us around all day long, which we just live with and repeat. We spend our days cluttering our minds with decisions that could be made so much simpler - if only we let some of them go.

And that’s not to mention that physical energy it takes, to keep on top of all that needs to be done. I made myself physically ill by always having something to do, be that keeping on top of my home, or my calendar, or my clothes.

Now, you still may not be convinced, so picture this; That feeling you get after a big spring clean, that zen you get after an hour at the spa, or that realisation of how little you actually need, when on holiday. When I think of these things, my shoulders relax and the feeling I get, is peace.

Because how can we ever be free, where there is always so much to do? When hour after hour, we can visually see the jobs cluttering up our homes, reminding us of all that still needs to be done. The laundry pile when you thought you’d got ahead, the paper clutter piling high. The odds and ends that never have a place to live and the chair that you really hate but spent money on, so refuse to let it go. This never ending realm of clutter is wearing us down and keeping us stuck, it is taking over our lives, along with our homes.

Clutter also causes issues with our spouses and our kids. Imagine not having to nag so much to tidy up, or spend weekends sorting out the shed. Imagine the time you could gain nurturing those relationships, instead of bogging them down with to do lists and things. And I know this to be true because I’ve seen the change myself.

But I also know, that it can be hard to admit to others, let alone ourselves, that we’ve made a mistake along the way. That maybe instead of enhancing our lives like we once thought, this stuff is actually bringing us down. It’s hard to own up to that. But what’s harder is knowing that there is another life, just the other side of this stuff. And surely the bigger mistake, would be continuing to let our clutter control us, rather than taking control of our clutter, once and for all.

I can say without doubt that decluttering the clutter, has been instrumental in helping me sort out my life. I no longer have that dread of all the jobs yet to be done, I no longer have a home full of stuff I don’t love and use and I no longer need a day off from real life, to appreciate the peace.

So start today, clear that counter top, lift that loft hatch, sort out that wardrobe, that shed, those drawers, Open the damn box. Because I know, that if you declutter the clutter and don’t let it back in, it can truly change your life.