By Paul Abraham
When life is stressful, it can be hard to keep on top of your living space. A cluttered environment, though is likely to make you feel more stressed, clearing some of the clutter may be a step towards feeling better and while we’re in “lockdown” then this is the perfect time to start.
Two psychological reasons which make it difficult for us to de-clutter are that we feel losses more keenly than the reward we experience from equivalent gains.
Losing £10 causes us more pain than finding £10 gives us pleasure. When something becomes ours, we value it more than we would an identical object that did not belong to us – even if we’ve only owned it for a few minutes.
Once you’ve decided to de-clutter, here are some tips to help you get started.
Out of sight, out of mind.
With items you’re not sure of, put them in a box out of site. If at the end of the week or month you haven’t thought about them, get rid of them without opening the box.
Start small but thorough.
Pick one place to clear, such as a cupboard, clear it thoroughly, and don’t stop until you have it all boxed up and ready to go to charity shops or recycling centres once they re-open.
You are not your possessions.
Don’t tie your identity to your stuff; you are still you without them.
Treasure people not stuff.
Giving up an item associated with a person is not giving up your relationship with that person. You don’t have to keep their every gift to be connected with them.
Have faith in the future.
Holding on to objects “just in case” is a sign of anxiety, try to trust that you will be able to cope without them.
Distinguish between aspiration and actual use.
Clothes you hope to fit in to someday, books you haven’t read – these are reminders of past dissatisfaction rather than a source of pleasure. Let them go.
Don’t blame yourself for the mess.
Guilt is stressful and makes it harder to get rid of things.
If you expect your house to look like a magazine shoot, you’ll only feel permanently stressed. Let ‘reasonably tidy’ be good enough.
Hopefully this article will inspire you to de-clutter but remember you don’t need to get rid of everything and you may even be more creative if you keep some things.
Catch up on more of Paul Abraham’s wellbeing tips and other articles here.