Clutter isn’t just the mess that accumulates in the kitchen after cooking a meal, it’s also the stockpiles of clothes you don’t wear anymore, the boxes of knick-knacks in the garage that you haven’t sorted through and can’t bear to throw out. Clutter can even extend to all the emails that, if you’re honest, you’re never going to find time to read.
Research has shown that external clutter can cause internal stress and anxiety, and even lead to depression. So, learn to practise the art of creating a clean-living space. It’s a practical and cathartic experience that can improve your life by making it more manageable and efficient.
Reasons to declutter
According to experts, a clear sign of the negative effects of clutter is when you knowingly suspend the act of tidying up because the very thought of tackling this arduous task fills you with dread. This is because studies have shown that clutter raises your cortisol levels (commonly known as stress hormones), so a cluttered home or workplace can leave you feeling overwhelmed, distracted or disorganised.
In addition to alleviating stress, decluttering can also provide the following positive results:
– It encourages mindfulness
– It helps you save time and money
– It creates more space in your home
While it’s common to avoid tidying up a mess, especially when you have loads of other commitments and little time available to tend to household chores, there is a psychological condition known as hoarding, where excessive clutter becomes a seriously debilitating situation.
What is hoarding?
Hoarding is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that is characterised by the tendency to excessively save and store worthless items, to the point that it disrupts one’s ability to function properly. It usually affects older people and is often associated with depression or dementia. Some of the characteristics may include:
– Saved items that hold no value
The clutter comprises useless items like junk mail, outdated catalogues, expired food, piles of newspapers or broken appliances.
– There is no order in the storage
A typical symptom of hoarding is the haphazard assortment of possessions. Items are randomly stored in inappropriate locations or simply piled up in the home making access to, or use of certain areas of the house, virtually impossible.
– Hygiene or health risks
Decaying food, uncleaned bathrooms or disease-carrying insects and rodents, that tend to infest a cluttered home, can make the living space unsanitary and even pose a health risk.
– Social isolation and negative relationships
Hoarders often feel embarrassed about their living circumstances, so will not engage in social interaction. Their living arrangements can also negatively affect their relationships with family, friends or neighbours. When confronted about cleaning up, a hoarder can become defensive, or even aggressive, as the idea of discarding their possessions causes them a great deal of stress.
Take charge – get rid of the mess and stress
One of the reasons people tend to avoid decluttering is that they don’t know where to start. All you need to do is dedicate a mere 15 – 20 minutes each day to the task. Otherwise, set a date and stick to it. If possible, get some help from the family.
Here are some tips to decluttering your home:
1.Categorise your possessions
Once you have done this, you can prioritise their importance and discard unnecessary items accordingly. Items that you no longer need can be thrown out with the rubbish, recycled or donated to charities.
2. Adjust your attitude and be decisive
Expensive items, although unwanted, often preclude people from discarding them. Come to terms with the fact that you will never recover the money you spent (unless you can sell it online). Likewise, be decisive when it comes to items that haven’t been used in more than a year, for instance, a collection of outdated phone chargers.
3. Break it up into tasks and schedules
Break up your decluttering project into specific tasks and schedules. This will make the process appear less overwhelming. Focus on one job at a time, perhaps dedicating your attention to certain areas or projects, like an overburdened bookcase or the kitchen cupboards. The important thing to remember is you don’t have to do it all at once!
4. Clear the clutter and store wisely
Once you’ve cleared the clutter, it’s important to keep things under control by storing wisely. Avoid accumulation or stock-piles in the future by developing practical systems. For instance, laundry can be sorted into relevant stages: unwashed, washed, ironing or items to be packed away. Spend some time on each stage to keep ahead of the game.
Another clever idea is to invest in some good quality storage units or make use of some innovative storage ideas and keep items by category, so you can keep track of all your possessions.
Everyone’s home has the potential to get messy, but when that mess begins to cause you distress and impedes your daily functioning, it’s time to take stock of the situation and promote a healthier living space. At Topmed we care about your health and encourage you to practise a lifestyle that promotes positive wellbeing. Get in touch today to sign up for cover for yourself and your family.
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