Decluttering as Self Care (and how to get started)

What is Clutter

If you do a Google search for “definition of clutter” the first definition which shows up tells you that clutter is a “collection of things lying about in an untidy manner” and clutter is to “cover or fill (something) with an untidy collection of things”. 

If you then search for ‘types of clutter’ on Google you will be faced with 29,100 results. Yikes. There are loads of informative articles which explain how there are many types of clutter – from random broken items to spiritual clutter. 

The truth is the ‘types of clutter’ we have is unique to each of our own situations.

As much as I love a list, it was really important to me to keep this one concise so it didn’t feel overwhelming. So I have organised my types of clutter into three simple categories:

  1. Physical: the physical things that you can see and touch.
  2. Mental: things that you think about and can lead to a ‘busy mind’.
  3. Digital: such as documents stored in folders on a laptop or emails.

Here is a my concise way of defining clutter: 

Clutter is ‘stuff’ which takes up time and space. It can exist physically; mentally; or digitally.

The Negative Impact of Clutter

Clutter in any form can have a negative impact on your wellbeing and here is why:

Clutter takes up time in your daily life: it takes a lot longer to find things when there is a lot of clutter to rifle through. It takes a longer clean up a space if there is a lot of clutter. It is much easier to lose items when there are disorganised items which take a long time to find. 

Replacing lost items costs money:  If you have decluttered you won’t want to fill the space with fresh clutter so are you less likely to buy unnecessary items. If you have more clutter then you are more likely to buy stuff you don’t need because you may need to buy things you already own but have gotten lost. 

Clutter uses more energy: Because of the extra time taken to find things and clean up, clutter has a physical and mental draining effect on our energy. It takes more time for us to think about things if there is a lot going on and this can result in a busy mind and poor sleep. 

Bring down your mood: Spending hours tidying up and cleaning just for it to be messy again the next day can be really disheartening. This happens when there is too much stuff or disorganisation for our tidying up efforts to be long lasting.  

Clutter creates stress: As humans, we enjoy beautiful things and feel happier and calmer in pleasant surroundings. Messy and cluttered environments can raise feelings of stress. Also, looking for items amongst clutter can raise stress. 

The Benefits of Decluttering

If you had less clutter, you could have more time, more energy, a brighter mood, and less stress. 

In the simplest way: less clutter = better days. 

Less clutter means more time and energy: Decluttering is self-care because it gives you more time to look after yourself and do the things that you enjoy.  When you have less stuff to deal with, you can less time tidying up and cleaning. Less time spent sorting through stuff and cleaning means you will having more energy and generally feel better.

Less clutter means it is easier to focus: Clutter has a surprising effect on our ability to focus. Having too much stuff around can be really distracting. Removing the clutter from your surroundings helps create a more productive space to be in.

Improved environment to enjoy: Less clutter will mean your surroundings are tidier and more pleasant. This means you can enjoy your home more and can relax better. This is particularly beneficial if you have decluttered your bedroom and can actually help you sleep better.

Its a mindful activity: The actual process of decluttering can be really emotionally cleansing; getting rid of unwanted and unnecessary things and seeing the process succeeding is a great mood-lifter. Removing clutter leaves you with more time and energy to enjoy doing the things that you really want to do. 

Three tips to get started

It is important to acknowledge that the idea of decluttering can be stressful, especially if there is a lot of it. It is natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the process. Getting started can be the hardest part. However, when you do get started, it becomes much easier (and also quite addictive).

Here are some tips to help you get started. 

  1. Figure out WHY you want to declutter. Clutter is personal and the reasons why you want to declutter are unique to you. Is it for a very practical reason like you are moving house and don’t want to take so much with you? Or are you feeling anxious every time you need to find something and you know it’s going to take ages and include a few moments of panic where you think it is lost forever? You might be looking around your environment just wishing it was more serene. 
  2. Be realistic with what you can achieve. It takes time to declutter so think about how much you have, and how long you think it will take, then add some extra time.Do not promise yourself that you will have decluttered the whole house and then sorted through and filed all of your emails in one weekend.  Make sure you factor in time for plenty of cups of tea and careful thinking so nothing is rushed. 
  3. Start small. If you have a lot to get through then there’s no pressure to tackle it all at once. Choose just one area to declutter. Such as a bathroom cabinet or a single kitchen cupboard. Ease yourself into it slowly, see some good progress, and you will be excited to carry on. It can be quite addictive when you get started. If you are doing a digital declutter then perhaps just allocate yourself two hours to find and file away one type of document that you have saved – such as ‘bank statements’

I hope you found this useful and that you feel inspired to to some decluttering! My best bit of advice if you want to start decluttering, is to get a cup of tea, put some music on and enjoy the process.

Until next time

Lauren x

8 thoughts on “Decluttering as Self Care (and how to get started)

  1. So spot on. I do believe that decluttering is self-care. It’s impossible to clear out the past and the physical things it’s left us, without caring for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

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