Clutter: Your Wellbeing Enemy

Clutter may be impacting your health more than you think

As mums, we have enough to stress about without adding to it unnecessarily.

While stress is fundamental to our survival, it is also possibly the most dangerous toxin your body faces every day. It can deplete you of the energy needed to live well and get the most out of life.

Stress-reduction techniques have been scattered throughout our previous articles (e.g. mind-body approaches, mindfulness practices, investing in self-care and ‘me’ time, strengthening relationships), however controlling some of the causes of your stress can also help you cope with the uncontrollable.

A disorganised, clutter-filled home is not only a symptom of stress but can also be another unnecessary source of stress, and can have a profound effect on your mood, self-esteem and, subsequently, your energy levels.

This is not to say that your home must always be clean and tidy (a near impossibility when you have children around!), however, your home can easily become filled to the brim with ‘things’ you don’t really need or want. Without even noticing it, we surround ourselves with unnecessary, energy-draining clutter; clutter which creates a negative environment for those living within it.

The Side Effects of Clutter
  • – Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, tactile, etc.), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important
  • – When you’re surrounded by more things than you can manage, it sends a message that your life is out of control
  • – The ongoing stress from clutter can even have negative effects on your immune system, heart, lungs and other key physiological functions
  • – Being surrounded by clutter can cause you to find it difficult to truly unwind and relax
  • – Attachment to clutter is an emotional condition that can bring with it embarrassment, stress and depression; at its worst, it becomes hoarding
  • – Clutter can cause a cascade of negative emotions. For example, when looking at a messy closet you can feel stressed at the lack of organisation, guilty that you don’t wear half of what you own, and confused as to what kind of style you’re even going for
  • – Clutter can hold you back from getting stuff done in life
  • Research shows that children who live in cluttered settings can have subsequent behavioural and/or emotional problems
The Benefits of Decluttering
  • – Throwing away old things can give your mind clarity, focus, peace and balance
  • – The ability to generate fresh energy, create mental and physical space, and release negative emotions
  • – Less stuff means less to take care of, which means more time to spend elsewhere (such as with your kids!)
  • – More control over your environment means less physical and emotional stress
  • – Clearing space can help you rewrite your life and make changes
  • – You feel stronger and more confident; less ashamed and guilty
  • – A sense of freedom comes with regained control over your life
  • – You can concentrate for longer periods of time, because your brain is not trying to process the added stimuli
  • – It can increase the quality of your sleep as a result of decreased stress levels
  • – Boosts to your mood, and the moods of those around you
  • – It can help you let go of the past

How to Declutter

Fortunately, unlike other more commonly recognised sources of stress, clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix. More and more women are starting to get on-board with reducing clutter, particularly with the rise in popularity of the show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’. Cleaning stuff out can be a hard task, however – especially if you haven’t done it for a while.

You may not be able to throw out, re-purpose, sell, donate, give away or recycle many things at the same time, so instead of setting aside a huge chunk of time to declutter, make it into a little challenge for yourself. This way, decluttering won’t seem like such a monumental task to fit into your busy mum-life.

Here are 7 simple steps to get going with decluttering:

  1. 1. Start small, even if it’s only with a single drawer or cupboard. Starting with the bedroom is ideal, as it can help create a relaxing space you may need!
  2. 2. Make decluttering a quick 15-minute weekly routine, and schedule it in.
  3. 3. Get in the habit of putting things away where they belong, rather than ‘doing it later’, and ask the members of your household to do the same.
  4. 4. Store away rarely used items, and dispose or donate unused ones.
  5. 5. Use plenty of containers when storing items.
  6. 6. Have friends help, as they aren’t as attached to your things as you are.
  7. 7. Teach your kids to be responsible for their mess, and follow your ‘decluttering lead’.

You will probably be surprised how many useless things you are holding on to and stressing yourself out with!

Finally, here are a few additional helpful hints from other mums who have successfully built decluttering into their routine:

  • – go through your wardrobe each season and donate any unused items from the previous season to charity
  • – each December, go through your kids’ toys and find those that are unused or have no sentimental value, then have your kids come along to donate them to a local Christmas toy drive
  • – regularly donate ‘play’ clothes that no longer fit your kids to local childcare centres to use as spares
  • – look out for any charity call-outs for unwanted items to prompt you to put effort into searching your house for anything you can give that someone is in need of; which isn’t always possible, of course.