3 Health Benefits of Decluttering

Decluttering, clutter-clearing, simplifying, simple living, minimalism–whatever you wish to call it–seems to be all the rage these days. Ever wonder why?

Clutter is a side effect of Consumerism and your desire to meet your inherent needs.

As a result of the affluence of the modern world, most of us are fortunate enough to be able to satisfy our basic physiological needs of water, food, sleep, air, and warmth, along with our basic safety needs of shelter and stability–with additional income left over to use or invest elsewhere as we please.

What happens as a result of this is where the conundrum of excess clutter lies…

Once your most basic human needs are met you are inherently wired to strive to meet your other needs of emotional security, physical safety, love & belonging, esteem, aesthetics, and self-actualization (becoming your best self).

This is where it can get tricky–where your spending habits can cause you a bit of trouble if you’re not consciously aware of what needs you’re trying to satisfy.

It’s what drives the dreaded impulse buys that have a tendency to overrun our homes as we subconsciously develop coping mechanisms that ensure we can make ourselves feel better should any of these needs go unmet.

It’s in trying to meet these basic and higher growth needs that we often turn to “things” because they provide instant gratification–a momentary rush that shoots happiness endorphins throughout our brain, duping us into thinking we’re making progress in creating a happy life, albeit fleeting.

For example, in our world of plenty there are endless consumer goods designed specifically to capture your attention; goods that claim to meet your “need” of living a more efficient lifestyle (think kitchen gadgets, productivity gadgets, organizers for all that clutter, etc).

There are also goods that claim they will satisfy some of your deepest desires of fitting into society and being accepted (like make-up, fashion, and the latest tech gadgets).

There are goods that claim they will help you tell your family and friends you love them (think toys, jewelry, miscellaneous gifts), thus making you think you are meeting your need of love & belonging.

There’s even goods that claim they can help you become your best self as you strive to meet your need of self-actualiziation and esteem (think miracle lotions & potions, self-help books, magazines, supplements, healing stones, candles–even the clutter/notes from all the self-improvement courses, certificates, and degrees many of us pursue can fall into this category).

The consequences of this? We tend to subconsciously pull out our cash with the very innocent hope that we’ll be improving our lives.

The side affect is that our homes get filled to the brim with a plethora of “things” we don’t really “need”. And unfortunately, we may still feel empty inside–ready to repeat the cycle again.

Unfortunately, this excess clutter takes it’s toll on your mental, emotional, physiological, and spiritual wellbeing in a myriad of ways:

  • It creates mental stress and frustration when you can’t find what you need when it’s needed.
  • It creates mental and emotional stress when you feel inept because you know you “should” be clearing out the clutter, but just can’t muster the energy to begin and therefor berate yourself and ignore it as the pile continues to get out of hand.
  • It creates even more emotional stress when the clutter is tied with sentimental items you can’t bring yourself to deal with in an effort to avoid uncomfortable feelings of sadness, grief, regret, or guilt.
  • It creates physical stress by forcing your body to move unnaturally throughout your space in a subconscious effort to protect yourself from physical harm.
  • And it creates spiritual stress by clouding your judgement and your ability to have more meaningful, and purposeful daily experiences.

The good news is you can fix this! And the benefits of clearing out your excess are well worth the effort!

Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect:

1. Clearing clutter provides more clarity and focus!

Did you know your home often acts as a mirror to your emotional state? Subconsciously we tend to create environments that reflect our inner turmoil–clutter being a sure sign of an internal struggle.

This has certainly been true for me. Throughout my various life transitions, career changes, health challenges, and periods of grieving–my home has repeatedly become a chaotic environment. Somehow during these chaotic times of change, business, and overwhelm–things seemed to magically migrate from one area to another as if they had a mind of their own!

In retrospect I know the clutter appeared as a direct response to my distractions, change of interests, and especially as a result of my own Consuming Emotions.

What are Consuming Emotions? They’re emotions like grief, worry, anxiety, and fear–emotions that draw a significant amount of energy from us, but give nothing valuable in return.

Our consumer habits perfectly mirror the habits of our hearts. We fill our homes with the kind of clutter we carry inside–things that we tell ourselves may be useful down the line, but which end up making it impossible to enjoy anything. Ironically we often bring the clutter into our homes to quiet our consuming emotions. ~ an excerpt from Breathing Room: Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home

It’s no surprise I felt excessively frustrated, agitated, and unsure of what to do during those times.

How do you navigate major life transitions of marriage, birth, death, career changes, and aging without the chaos of clutter? How do you overcome the distractions and the ever present Consuming Emotions so many of us experience?

Mindfulness.

Yes. It’s really that simple–(yet also quite difficult if you are a person who tends to dwell on the past and worry about the future).

By mindfully staying in the moment you won’t get lost in the sadness, grief, or regret of the past–nor will you be distracted by worry, fear, anxiety, or doubt regarding your future.

By practicing gratitude and mindfulness on a daily basis you can stay in tune with your CURRENT state of being and know what fulfills you the most.

This deep inner knowing will allow you to determine what you truly need to find contentment, and will make the act of letting go much easier.

What I know first hand, is that each time I’ve taken conscious action to clear my space, to shed what no longer serves it’s purpose, and to simplify my life–the physical and emotional benefits always astound me. Without fail, the simple act of decluttering in a mindful way makes me feel lighter, freer, clearer, and more focused.

The bonus? Less stuff means less to take care of and more time to focus on the things that really matter (hello kids!).

And, when my belongings are put away neatly–showing a deeper level of care and appreciation for what I have in this moment–I feel peaceful and reassured that all will work out as it’s meant to. Without question I also have more confidence in myself, my decisions, and my ability to navigate the uneven terrain of life.

 

2. Ditching the excess leads to less physical and emotional stress!

Having more clarity goes hand in hand with having less stress.

When you know where everything is, you reduce the amount of time it takes to accomplish simple and complex tasks. You no longer have to stress about where you put something or get annoyed when a family member asks where something is. In two seconds flat you can find what you need because you don’t have mountains of clutter to sort through!

Physically you no longer have to contort your body in various ways to avoid stepping on things, over things, or around things.

It may not seem noticeable at first, but if you ever pay attention to how your body moves through space you’ll see there is a vast difference in how you feel when you can move smoothly and undeterred vs when you have to be on constant alert to ensure your own physical safety.

Emotionally you won’t feel so ashamed of the place you call home, either.

During my difficult times when the house took on a life of its own I didn’t want friends or family to come knocking on my door unexpectedly. I felt deeply ashamed that my home was such a mess. I felt I should have been able to keep it up despite my challenges and would often make myself feel worse because of my inability to meet my own expectations.

That’s was no way to show compassionate self-love and care for myself.

Sometimes the first step towards change is acceptance.

For me I had to accept that things fall apart sometimes (including my house) and that doesn’t mean I’m any less of a person for it.

Once I accepted that the chaos was a temporary state of being that reflected my inner turmoil, I was able to move forward and continue shedding that which I no longer need.

What I’ve come to understand and appreciate is that drastically reducing the amount of stuff I own has greatly improved my ability to reduce my stress levels–even when I’m having a difficult week.

Less clutter means I’m less likely to get overwhelmed and 10,000 times more likely to complete simple maintenance tasks because they can be done quickly and efficiently.

One caveat to keep in mind: clearing out the excess is always a work in progress–especially when you share your home with family or roommates.

The good news– clutter clearing is contagious! (Don’t believe me? Click the link to see how my friend Bradley Charbonneau caught the clutter clearing bug in the midst of his career change!)

Once your family, roommates, and friends see the benefits of what you’re experiencing, how efficient and serene your home can be–they’ll follow in your footsteps and begin sorting through their own belongings, no nagging needed!

After awhile even my kids begin to prefer the peacefulness of open spaces!!

The trick is to focus on your own things first. Clear your own space, focus on what makes you happy, and others will be drawn to your energy–eager to experience the benefits you’re experiencing 🙂

This means you can encourage others to declutter without the hassle of yelling, belittling, or arguing. The bonus is they’ll subconsciously learn the deeply valuable skill of determining what truly serves its purpose while letting rest go, too.

 

3. Clearing space can help you rewrite your life!

The things we own within our home say a lot about who we are–and who we used to be. Sometimes the clutter exists because we have a lot of sentimental objects attached to our identity we can’t bear to part with.

Whether mementos from the past, remnants of old relationships, outdated interests, or even the belongings we’ve inherited from our loved ones–these things play a major role in our lives and often come with the hefty price of taking a toll on our energy as we struggle to establish healthy personal boundaries.

Unfortunately, each of these forms of clutter have an energetic signature that can create Destructive Interference.

Destructive Interference is anything that has negative energy attached to it that provokes a response of mental, emotional, physiological, or spiritual distress.

Items like this often spark deeply emotional responses that can come in the form of a sad sense of nostalgia for the way things used to be, or in a rise of difficult emotions when reminded of a painful relationship or event.

This form of clutter may also be comprised of several “things” we once aspired to but were unable to complete. Acting as a trigger, these objects can be a source of deep regret and guilt for having invested in something and not followed through.

Either way, these items are charged with a lot of negative energy that can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing.

For example, I had a basement art studio filled to the brim with reminders of who I once aspired to be. Full of partially used art supplies, sketchpads, and crafting materials–it’s sat unused for the better part of a decade because my priorities lay elsewhere.

I’ll be honest, it was difficult to let these things go because I wholeheartedly identified as being the artist interested in letterpress, painting, drawing, crafting, furniture refinishing, etc. It’s how everyone from my past remembers and knows me. When I run into old acquaintances their first question is always–How’s the art going?

What they don’t know is that I haven’t picked up a sketch book or paint brush in years and really have no desire to.

I’ve come to the realization that Art (in that form) used to be my escape from a life I didn’t want to face. It was a coping mechanism I developed to meet my inherent need of social acceptance and esteem–developed during a time when my mother was suffering from a debilitating mental illness and I felt alone, isolated, and unseen.

For many years–art was a tool I subconsciously used to find approval more than it was a hobby or a profession.

Now that life is something I truly want to participate in, I no longer need to escape in that way again. I’m ready to let go of what I once aspired to and embrace who I’m presently becoming.

Now, in theory, it makes sense to just dispose of these remnants and move on–however, there is the lingering question that sometimes get’s in the way and prevents our clearing efforts if we’re not aware of it’s presence. The question being:

“If I am no longer {insert aspiration of choice},  then who am I?”

This sense of identity being tied with the clutter of our aspirations is the same for sentimental clutter.

You might find yourself asking…”If I am no longer spouse of _____, who am I? If I am no longer the mother of two YOUNG children, who am I? If I am no longer my idealistic youthful self, then who am I?”

The thing is, you won’t be able to figuring out an answer to the elusive “Who am I?” question until you create the space you need to figure it out–the kind of space that nurtures and supports your entire wellbeing, as well as the evolution of your soul.

By compassionately letting go of those possessions that no longer serve you–you can say farewell to a part of your personal history with gratitude for the purpose it served at that time. And, in turn, create space for new possibilities to enter your life.

In my case, I had to question if that basement studio would be better served as my husband’s workspace for repairing and making the light fixtures he always talks about making. Perhaps that space could become the catalyst for achieving one of his dreams.

And, by giving him that space to do something he enjoys–I will no longer feel like I must return to my art because it’s there, anxiously waiting for me to pay it attention. Instead I’ll be free to pursue my writing, to renovate my upstairs office space, to get outside more, to travel more, to live more, to redefine who I am in this moment and, essentially, to rewrite my life 🙂

…………………………………

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found something inspiring within this post ~ something that encourages you to approach the concept of decluttering with new determination and an open mind.

I’d love to know what benefits you’ve noted when clearing your space and decluttering your life in the comments below!

Sincerely,

~ Darcey

Darcey Rojas is the founder of The Compassionate Home. She is a Holistic Designer, Certified Design Psychology Coach, and Green Design Center Trade Partner dedicated to creating positive home environments that heal mind, body, and soul, strengthen family relationships, and nurture our true potential. Her approach to conscious home and lifestyle design involves designing spaces that meet our needs, encourage good habits, bring us closer to our loved ones, and support our health and wellbeing on a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual level.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply