10 Ways to De-Clutter and De-Stress
Walk into a spa and you immediately notice the airy music, quiet voices, and lack of clutter. A few products are beautifully placed on a simple shelf at eye level; tea and water are artfully arranged on a silver tray; and towels are rolled perfectly, awaiting you as you get out of the shower. Spa ambiance is one of serenity and calm, and it's no coincidence that there's no clutter.
There are reasons why order calms us and clutter ramps up anxiety. First, clutter is one extra thing we have to deal with, on top of all the other gazillion things we need to do in our lives. Second, it's a big visual mess that our brains literally can't deal with - according to scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health, visual clutter actually suppresses the brain's ability to respond, reducing its activity. Too much stuff means too much to deal with; too much to deal with overloads the brain; overloaded brains shut down, not calm down.
Remember being given two choices when you were young, like chocolate or vanilla? How easy and calming was that? Clutter is a million choices. With overstuffed closets, the morning becomes focused on what will I wear and where will I find it? Forget working out before work since now you have to dig through piles to find that perfect black sweater, which puts you 20 minutes behind. Think about if you only had 10 items of clothing to choose from (back to the chocolate or vanilla), how easy would getting dressed be? At the spa, you're handed one robe, one pair of slippers and a key; no decisions about what to wear, you just have to wander down a hall into a calm, uncluttered room to have someone take care of you.
Of course, most of us can't have a masseuse follow us around at home but with a little de-cluttering, a few well-placed candles, and the right music, we can bring a bit of the spa home with us.
Here are 10 easy ways to start de-cluttering and de-stressing:
1. Read your mail over the paper shredder.
2. For every new item of clothing you buy, give three to charity.
3. Throw out expired food from the fridge.
4. Test all the pens at your desk and throw out the ones that don't work.
5. Clean your purse.
6. Recycle the magazines you aren't going to read. If you haven't read them by now, you're not going to.
7. Stop writing notes on scraps of paper. Buy a nice notebook and put all your notes in there.
8. Toss or pass on that shampoo or lotion you bought but hate.
9. Purge your files.
10. Don't buy it in the first place. Think about whether you really need something before impulsively buying it.
Written by Tracy McCubbin, dClutterfly founder, and award-winning home and office organization expert.