The Mental Benefits of Decluttering
The flowers are popping, the quad is full – it’s spring at Carolina. Use the energy of spring to do some spring cleaning of your space and your life.
“Clutter isn’t just the stuff on the floor. It’s anything that gets between you and the life you want to be living.” – Peter Walsh
The environment around us influences our ability to complete tasks and our overall mental health. One study from the University of Connecticut, showed that by removing or controlling clutter, you boost your mood, sharpen your focus, energize you to be productive, and relieve anxiety.
And yet, it can feel difficult to let go of things. A study at Yale showed the same areas of our brain light up when we get rid of things as when we burn our tongues or stub our toes. Getting rid of things is pain. Another study showed that just holding or touching an item can cause emotional attachment. So of course it’s difficult to donate an item or throw it away – you feel invested and connected to it! Here are a few tips:
- Start small. Think of one small area that you can go through today like your junk drawer or the back of your closet before moving to larger areas. This helps build momentum and prevents feeling overwhelmed.
- Declutter it! Sort items into categories like “Keep,” “donate,” “sell,” and “discard.” Questions to ask yourself:Is this item useful or does it bring me joy? If you have multiple items that serve the same purpose, consider keeping only the one you use most or brings you the most joy. Have I used it or worn it in the past year? Would it be hard to replace if I needed it again? Does it fit with my vision for the life I want to lead?
- Keep going. Write out a list of the areas you want to declutter and tackle one small space each day or once a week.
- Consider various forms of clutter. Think about your calendar, the number of windows and tabs open on your laptop, and your phone notifications. Be ruthless! Close those tabs, turn off unnecessary notifications, and say no to (or postpone) commitments that just don’t fit.
- Keep things tidy. Set up systems for yourself to regularly declutter. If you bring something new into your space, get rid of something to help prevent clutter from building up over time. Use storage solutions to keep remaining items organized and easily accessible.
Life is stressful enough without spending hours cleaning and straightening. Work to keep clutter manageable and do what works best for you! By decluttering regularly and intentionally, you can create a more peaceful and organized space for yourself.