There are lots of practical and “green” reasons for decluttering your home:
√ Getting rid of extra stuff allows you to share with others.
√ Selling unwanted items earns you extra cash.
√ Freeing up useful space allows you to enjoy your home more.
√ Giving your excess stuff to others is good for the planet because it saves energy, reduces trash, and extends the life of our natural resources.
While these are all great reasons to clean out your closets, drawers, garage, and basement, there’s actually an even better one:
Decluttering your home is good for your health.
Jettisoning the junk and keeping only the stuff that you really need or love can actually make you healthier. Here’s how:
How the Mess Hurts Your Health
Clutter Can Make It Harder to Breathe
When was the last time you dusted all those knick-knacks on the shelf? If you suffer from asthma or allergies, clutter probably isn’t helping.
When you don’t dust or vacuum regularly, dust and dust mites will build up, which could make your lungs work harder.
Clutter Leads to Weight Gain
Researchers have found a link between overly cluttered homes and being overweight.
⇒ In one study, scientists discovered that people who live in extremely messy or cluttered environments were 77 percent more likely to be overweight than those who live in neat environments.
⇒ In another study, researchers discovered a correlation between cluttered environments and poor eating habits.
Some research suggests that the reason for these links is that people are so overwhelmed by stuff that they lose the ability to focus on their bodies, and make poor choices.
Clutter Is Dangerous
How many times have you tripped over a box of who-knows-what in the laundry or family room or your office?
More people are injured at home than anywhere else. Often, falls occur because someone stumbles over items in the way.
By clearing the junk, you make it easier and safer to get around.
Clutter Causes Stress
How often have you been late because you can’t find your keys? Are you constantly arguing with the kids because they’ve misplaced their personal items?
Studies show that people are more stressed in cluttered environments. It’s difficult to focus in a messy, disorganized space. This increases the stress hormone cortisol, which has a detrimental effect on blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and weight management.
Does the prospect of having to move give you hives because you can’t stand the thought of dealing with all your things?
Do you end up doing nothing rather than tackling the mounting clutter?
From Too Cluttered to Clutter-Free
The problem with clutter is that, like weight gain, it happens over time, so depending on how much clutter you have, it could take time to get rid of it. These six steps will help you get it under control.
1. Make a Plan.
Determine which areas need to be tackled first. Next, create an actual plan. Will you need a day, a weekend, or a series of weekends to declutter as much as you want? Put your plan on a calendar so you can work it into your schedule.
2. Declutter Daily.
Set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes every day to clean up and declutter. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with just a few minutes of intense focus. And keeping clutter from accumulating keeps it from turning into clutter!
3. Focus on the Easy Stuff First.
Look around. You should be able to see right off the bat the stuff that’s obviously creating clutter.
Paper is usually a big source of clutter, especially junk mail. Keep a recycling bin handy so junk mail doesn’t pile up. Or, contact the companies and groups sending the mail and ask them to cease and desist!
4. Then Tackle the Big Stuff.
Is there a boat or car in the driveway that you don’t need or won’t use again? Donate it to a worthy charitable organization like Boat Angel, our sponsors for this post. Get rid of the extra chairs or the baby furniture in the basement by putting them on Freecycle.org, Craigslist.org, or donating them to the church bazaar or neighborhood yard sale.
5. Finish “Unfinished Business” – or Just Give It Up.
Fill a basket with stuff that needs to be taken care of but that you’ve been putting off, like forms to fill out or items that need to be returned, and then devote a morning or afternoon to doing just that. Be realistic, though. If you haven’t picked up that half-finished scarf in two years, maybe someone else can use your knitting needles.
6. Learn to Let Go.
As you sort through items, be ruthless. Think about why you are keeping things, and let go of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. If you really don’t want to let go, find a way to repurpose the items. For example, if you really can’t bear the thought of giving away your collection of concert T’s, have them made into a quilt that you can use for summer picnics. Be creative.
Or be inspired! Here’s how I got rid of the clutter in my office.
Decluttering can be depressing. It can be annoying. And it can be overwhelming. But maybe by looking at it as a path to better health, it will take on a new sense of urgency. Just think of how much better you will feel when it’s done — and how much good you can do with your unwanted stuff.
Good luck, and let us know what strategies have best helped you declutter!
About Boat Angel: Boat Angel specializes in handling donations of boats. The organization works with several different charitable organizations, handling vessels of all shapes and sizes along with assisting donors through the process. For more information, please contact Boat Angel directly.