Spring is nearly here and with it comes an opportunity for a fresh start. After a long, cold winter, now is the chance to throw open those windows, and let in the warmth.
Spring cleaning is an essential part of this season. In addition to refreshing our spaces, decluttering has many mental health benefits. Have you noticed that less clutter makes you feel freer, lighter, and less stressed? There is a reason for this. If we look around and see clutter – a messy desk, kitchen sinks full of dishes, toys scattered everywhere – it can make us feel overwhelmed. There are physical health risks to clutter too: dust, allergies, and mobility hazards for example.
Taking care of our environment can improve our overall well-being. In general, any way you can visually streamline your environment – a place for everything and everything in its place – can give you a sense of control and result in a more positive mood. You will feel a sense of achievement, and it is easier to relax and unwind in a clean environment.
For many of us, decluttering can be a dreaded chore. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Start where you’re at. Decluttering is a process, and it can take days or even months. Break tasks down and complete a bit at a time. When you succeed at your goal, however small, it can not only benefit our emotional well-being through the sense of accomplishment but can also be a powerful motivator. Being realistic and starting small is a great first step. If you are not feeling very energetic or motivated, or you are already struggling with mood, you may set yourself up for failure with a large cleaning task. Instead of tackling the whole house, consider tidying one drawer, or going through one box, or giving yourself 15 minutes to work on decluttering your desk.
Ask for help. You can ask family and close friends for help or even seek paid help. Have someone watch your child so you can tackle the laundry. Have a friend come over for coffee and help you purge your closet. We tend to be more motivated when we have someone by our side.
Tackle clutter in the digital environment. Do you have hundreds of unread personal emails, many of them ads? Be aware that digital clutter can also contribute to stress. Sort emails into folders and unsubscribe from promotional emails that you no longer need. Organize information on your work laptop so that you can always quickly find what you need. Clear digital spaces contribute to a sense of calm and increased focus.
Adjust expectations. There are going to be times when your environment is just not going to meet your expectations, given what may be going on – several children, sickness, work issues, mental health struggles. Treat yourself with the kindness you would show a friend in this scenario. Not everything has to be done right now. Make a plan for decluttering and return to it when you are able to.
Spring is a great motivator for change. Regaining a sense of control over our environment through the act of decluttering and seeing how it serves our physical and mental health is incredibly worthwhile.
This article is brought to you by Woolwich Counselling Centre. This nonprofit counselling agency creates awareness and provides education to promote emotional and mental wellness for individuals, families, businesses, and others in Woolwich and Wellesley. Check out their upcoming small group therapy sessions and workshops at www.woolwichcounselling.org.