A lot of us believe that minor bits of clutter can’t really affect us. We think that only people who are serious hoarders are in danger of having their health affected by clutter. Unfortunately, we are slowly coming to realize that this simply isn’t true. What is becoming more and more accepted by scientists and the general public is that even minor bits of clutter can actually cause a whole host of both physical and mental health problems ranging from allergies and fatigue to breathing complications and depression. So now the question we have to ask ourselves is; how does this happen and what can we do about it? Read on:
Physical Health and Clutter
Clutter isn’t just a pile of stuff. Underneath that clutter you’re more than likely to find one or several of these unhealthy contaminants; dirt, dust, mold, mildew and/or bugs.
They all contribute to breathing complications, nausea, headaches, fatigue, allergies or worse and the longer the clutter stays in the same spot, the worse the contamination gets.
How You Can Take Action
Even devoting as little as 5-10 minutes a day to clearing out clutter will have a positive effect on your overall health. Make the decision to tackle clutter a little bit each day or devote a weekend toward tackling it all and while you’re going through your stuff, pick up one piece at a time and make a decision on whether not you want to keep it. If you choose to keep it, designate one spot for you to always keep the item and place it there. Once the clutter is cleared, you can easily tackle any environmental hazards you find.
Mental Health and Clutter
Have you ever thought of why you are keeping a certain item? Most of us rarely do but it’s probably because we have no idea what that clutter is doing to our emotional and mental states. Clutter is an energy of chaos and confusion but it also contains the energies of shame, fear and guilt, which if left ignored, will continue to affect your mental and emotional states of mind.
Let’s go over a few of the main reasons people tend to keep items in their home long after they stopped using them:
Example A. You bought an expensive camera years ago yet you have never used it.
Example B. A friend gave you a vase you don’t really like but you didn’t know what to do with it so you just kept it in a closet.
Example C. You lost some weight but you keep your old, heavier clothing that no longer fits just in case you might gain the weight back again.
Now let’s examine the emotional/mental toll keeping these seemingly innocuous items are really taking on you:
Example A: Emotional Toll = Shame: Keeping the camera solely because it was expensive means you’re keeping the item out of shame. You feel embarrassed that you spent a lot of money on something you’ve never used so rather than admitting the truth to yourself and getting rid of it, you choose to keep it thinking “maybe someday I’ll use it” while ignoring the fact that deep down that “some day” will never come. That shame is now taking up your precious space in your mind AND in your home and
whether that camera is out of sight or not is irrelevant, the energy is still there.
How You Can Take Action
Sell, donate or give the camera to a friend with the understanding that maybe the only reason you bought the camera in the first place was the excitement of purchasing it. That feeling and moment is now over and you’re making a self-love decision to remove shame from your home.
Example B: Emotional Toll = Guilt: Keeping an item because someone gave it to you, even if you don’t like it or use it means you’re keeping it out of guilt. Guilt is now taking up residence in your home and in your mind – making it difficult to make smart decisions for yourself and set healthy boundaries.
How You Can Take Action
Guilt is like hanging heavy chains around your neck and they certainly don’t allow you to move forward in life. A gift is just that: a gift. Upon receiving any gift, it is always your right to do with the gift what you want. Your only job is to be grateful that someone cared enough to give you the gift so express gratitude and then happily do what you want with the gift. You can donate it, sell it, give it away or even throw it in the trash. The choice is between feeling free in your own home or continuing to live a guilt ridden self imposed jail sentence surrounded by stuff you dislike, but it’s your decision.
Example C: Emotional Toll = Fear: Keeping an item because you think your body “might” change means you’re keeping it out of fear. You’re afraid you won’t be able to reach or keep your “perfect” weight so you keep clothing that doesn’t fit you anymore. You might even convince yourself that keeping the clothing is saving you money or even helping you keep the weight off. What you’re actually doing is using fear to make your decisions rather than faith. Fear is living in your home and telling you that you’re not worthy of being healthy or happy or that your body isn’t beautiful and it took the form of a pair of pants you’re keeping in your closet while faith is telling yourself that in every moment you will choose to make decisions that help, rather than hinder your health, happiness and productivity.
How You Can Take Action
Remove any clothing that doesn’t fit you well now, doesn’t look good on your or isn’t in good shape. Also remove any items from your home that you never use but never get rid of because you think, “what if I need it?!” because that’s fear. Anything that makes you think, “what if?!” tends to be fear related and only faith and courage will allow you to move forward in your life.
Fear will only hold you back in life and keep you in a continuous battle for your self respect. Choose Yourself and have faith.
Guilt, fear and shame are energies that weigh us down and force us to make decisions that go against our goals and priorities, happiness and health. They can be attached to our clothing, books, kitchen utensils and anything else we own. So how do we combat these low energies so that we free ourselves to choose our best life?
- Keep only what you truly enjoy, use and need: This is a simple concept in theory but one that can become very difficult when faced with the guilt, fear and shame that clutter brings along with it. However, the more you continue to choose to keep only what matters most to you, the easier this process
- Make Small, Self Love Based Decisions: Choose yourself – choose to love yourself and buy and keep only what makes you happy, what makes you feel complete, empowered, content or joyful. If an item no longer represents those happier emotions to you, it’s okay and necessary to
let them go.
- Emotional Awareness: The more we are aware of what we are feeling internally about what we are surrounding ourselves with, the easier it is to make and continue making, small, self-love based decisions. It also helps us to understand what matters to us versus items we bought into our lives as a way to fill an emotional
Another way to help yourself move into a happier, healthier space (without actually moving) is to build up a support system for yourself. Whether it’s a therapist, decluttering expert, honest friend or family member or support group, the more people who love and support you through these changes, the easier it will be to make these positive changes permanent. Always remember you’re worth making small, self love based decisions toward leading a better life.