If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 18 months, it’s that we could all do with a little less stress in our lives. The pressures of work (or losing jobs), combined with isolation from friends and family has impacted us all, and being stuck at home for days and weeks on end in lockdowns certainly hasn’t helped.
In fact, our home (and life) environment could be doing more harm than we imagine, particularly if we are living with clutter. Clutter has been found to increase cortisol levels – which is linked to stress. And don’t we have enough to worry about, without our home life being impacted?
It’s time to de-clutter your life – starting with the following great tips.
Let’s Get Clean
When we think of clutter, we generally picture of all the things that we find around our home that really don’t need to be there. Are you hoarding old magazines or books that you’re never going to read again? Perhaps your shoe closet looks like the inside of a Spendless store or your kitchen cupboards look like a Tupperware catalogue. Or maybe you just haven’t gotten around to cleaning out your home office since you started working from home back in March 2020. First step on your de-clutter journey is to clean out the house.
Start by taking everything off your work desk and emptying the drawers. Throw out anything you don’t need, label or file important documents, and clear off your cupboards and other surfaces. Then, move through each room of the house and quite simply, get rid of anything that you don’t use or wear anymore. Donate or recycle old furniture and clothing, organise your drawers and cupboards, keeping only the things that you use often.
Clutter isn’t just about material items either and once you’ve cleaned out the home, it’s time to clean out your life. Start with your “friends”. Do you have any people in your life who aren’t good for you? Anyone who is negative or who doesn’t support you, or someone who always seems to bring drama everywhere they go? If so, it’s time to reconsider the friendship. And while you can’t get rid of family, you can limit your contact with anyone who doesn’t provide a positive impact.
To reduce clutter and stress, you also need to learn to say no. If you’re someone who hits the gym at 4am, works from 5am, takes the kids to sports before and after school, does the grocery shopping, cleans the house, cooks dinner for a neighbourhood BBQ... all in one day (and repeat) – it’s time to say no. Write down all your commitments and decide which ones you really want in your life, and which ones you can say no to so you can ensure you get your work-life balance in order.
Keeping It Clutter-Free
Now that you’ve done all the hard work, you have to maintain it. Work out easier ways to get everything done around the house – including allocating cleaning tasks to your partner and kids. Don’t put things off for another day, as this gives clutter free reign to expand. And if you’re feeling pressure from friends or life in general, it’s okay to cut back and say no.
Remember to start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t change your life in a moment – but small changes will make a big difference to your life, and your stress levels, in the long run.