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Is Decluttering Good For Your Mental Health? Part 1

by Lisa Jones
Published: Last Updated on 6 comments
A white bedroom/office with white curtains hung up. There is a pale wooden desk with a lamp on it. A plant pot with a green plant is next to the desk

Clutter. Stuff. Crap. It feels like every room in our house at the moment is cluttered. It’s not messy or dirty! We just have a lot of stuff. No matter what you are are trying to get to in our house, you will probably need to move at least 3 things out of the way to get to it.

I can’t even really tell you what the stuff is, because it is just stuff. Everywhere I look, I see toys that Little J has discarded, clothes that need putting away, paperwork that needs filing, notebooks, candles, books and stuff. Honestly, it’s driving me bonkers.

For the longest time I have tried to convince myself that I do not need a decluttered house to be content. That it does not have an impact on my mental health. That I do not need to have a decluttered house to feel like I have my life together.

BUT, it is having an effect on my mental health. I’m sick of moving this out way, then that out of the way to get one thing. I’m fed up of not being able to find what I’m looking for without checking here, there and everywhere. And I’m fed up of seeing stuff all over the house.

So I want to find out if decluttering will improve my mental health.

Mistakes I Have Made When Decluttering Before

I have tried decluttering lots of times before but I never seem to succeed at it. To be honest, it all gets quite overwhelming. Rather than focusing on one area or section, I would want to tackle a whole room. I would empty everything out onto the bed, then attempt to sort, tidy and throw away.

T-shirts, shirts and jumpers in soft browns and beiges are hung up neatly on a rail
Image Credit Styled Stock Society

Halfway through I would lose motivation and want to give up. Everything would then just be dumped back into the draws and wardrobe and I’d be in a worse situation than before.

The other problem that I would have when decluttering is the fear of ‘What If’. What if I throw it away and I need it one day? I’ve not used it in 3 years, but what if? Yes, I don’t wear that cardigan anymore because ‘it shrunk in the wash’ but what if we’re going somewhere and it would go perfectly with my outfit? I haven’t had time to read an actual book for years but I still have 50 odd under my bed. What if I throw all my books out and I really want to read it later down the line? Yes, I’ve not worn that pair of shoes in the longest time, but what if I need a smart pair of shoes for something? I cant afford to purchase another pair.

Is The KonMari Method Realistic?

I read an interesting article on Scary Mommy the other day, stating how Decluttering Is A Luxury That Some People Don’t Have. Specifically, it talked about Marie Kondo and how it is unrealistic for some people to only keep things that spark joy.*

*Just an FYI for anyone that hasn’t heard of Marie Kondo, she’s a Japanese organising consultant and her goal is; ‘to help more people live a life that sparks joy’. She does this by helping people to declutter their houses and only keep the things that spark joy. If the object/clothes/shoes no longer bring joy, then throw it out!

The author of the article was discussing how some people who live close to the bread line are unable to throw out even a pair of socks that no longer spark joy as they would not be able to replace them.

Whilst I do not fall into that bracket thankfully, I realised that this is partly why I struggle to throw things out. The ‘What If’ fear I discussed above. I have shoes, clothes, bags, stuff that no longer sparks joy, but I still need them because I wouldn’t be able to afford to replace all of it.

However, there does come a point where you have to have a discussion with yourself about the amount of stuff you have and if you really need it. I, for example, do not need 57 pairs of pyjamas.

There is one part of the KonMari method that I will be able to apply to my own journey. Marie Kondo says that when you are ready to part with something you thank it for its service and then let it go. And I actually really like that.

A Few Benefits Of Decluttering

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Clutter stresses you out. Some people believe that clutter can be seen as having a lack of control. As the clutter grows, so does your stress levels as you know it’s all there and needs sorting.

Once everything has been decluttered, it no longer takes up any of your head space and you’ll be able to sit down and relax in the evening without having to think about it!

Rediscover Things You’ve Lost/Forgotten About

Last year, before COVID took over our lives, a friend and I sorted out the cupboard under the stairs. I really wish I had a before picture because, honestly, it was a tip! Anyway, whilst sorting out, we came across £50 worth of gift cards that I had completely forgotten about.

If thats not an incentive to do a sort out I don’t know what is!

A bedside table has a small green plant in a white vase, a white candle and large white lamp on it. The corner of the bed is made up in white sheets
Image Credit Styled Stock Society

Easier to Clean and Tidy

As there is less to move out of the way it is easier to clean and tidy and keep it that way. As a result, there are less places for dust and allergens to hide. Win win!

You’ll Have More Time

Okay, so this one might be a bit of stretch, but hear me out! As you know where everything is, you won’t be wasting time looking for whatever it is you need. Also, you’ll spend less time cleaning and tidying everything as you’ll have less stuff so you’ll save time there too.

Conclusion

I cannot wait to get started on this! It’s not going to be a quick process, but I’m alright with that. I’m actually giving us a whole year to get everything done as the attic and shed are included. Also, life gets in the way sometimes! Plus, we are restricted to only 1 tip run per week at our local centre. However, I am hoping that a lot of our decluttered stuff can either be donated or sold! On that note, does anybody want a bunch of books?

I’ll do a full update once we have completed the decluttering (with before and after pics!) and report back on whether decluttering does affect your mental health. Wish us luck, we’re going to need it!

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6 comments

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The LDN Lifestyle 06/02/2021 - 19:03

Oh my goodness I feel this so much! I’ve recently moved out of my flat back to my parents and my god I just have so much STUFF! Whatever it is (books, jewellery, shoes, makeup, toiletries, bags) I just have a lot of it. I’m not one of those people that can just have one of something, as I like variety (not that that’s a good trait to have!) and am so bad at getting rid of things in case I want it in future. I’m definitely working on trying to declutter my life as I agree with you, I think it will make my mind feel a lot more calm xxx

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Lisa Jones 11/02/2021 - 11:54

Thank you so much for your comment. I’m the same as you! I like having variety of things too and I always think ‘what happens if I need it?! I’ve not used it in 3 years but you never know 🤣🤣

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Marion Jones 17/01/2021 - 23:09

Omg as your Mother in law , you know the amount of clothes i have, and I find it so hard to part with them . Some I not worn for two years , but I still like them, some don’t fit , but if I loose weight they may. But I know why I struggle parting with clothes shoes etc . I believe it’s because I didn’t have many clothes as a child . School uniform and a couple of clothes. My mum couldn’t afford us to have loads of clothes . So I think once I started work that was it I bought something each week ( got paid weekly then) and that then just grew. Kids came along they took over clothing spree went on them . Now I spend on me and grandkids. But still I don’t throw away . I am frightened of not having the right clothes to wear 🙈

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Lisa Jones 25/01/2021 - 17:20

Yep, I know exactly what you mean. I think a lot of people feel the same too. You spent your hard earned money on that, why should you throw it away? I’m getting better at rid of stuff now though. Maybe I should help you with your wardrobe!!

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Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) 17/01/2021 - 21:41

I love this Lisa. I have a similar story to your gift cards. When I cleared out my night table last year, I found $250 in cash that had been given to us for our 25th wedding anniversary that I had totally forgotten about.

I agree that decluttering has all the benefits you identify. Once you get started and get on a roll, it’s really freeing! I look forward to reading your progress.

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Lisa Jones 25/01/2021 - 17:18

Thank you so much. Oh wow! $250?! That’s amazing!! I bet that was a pleasant surprise!

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