Create a clutter-free haven – and clear your mind too
Spring is well and truly upon us now, with daffodils and other blooms gloriously displaying their wares and the sun's rays really warming up (at least, some of the time). This is a popular time for a spring clean of the home, but what about taking the time this season to address some of your more serious clutter?
The chances are you have accumulated a lot of things you don't really need, not just over the past winter, but over a longer period – and you might not realise it, but they could be making you stressed out, or at the very least, resulting in your home not feeling as welcoming as it could.
And of course, there's no room for new things if your rooms are bursting at the seams!
Stress expert and House of Fraser representative Carole Ann Rice said it's vital to de-clutter every so often, because it allows us to regain a sense of control and calm. If you don't do this and opt instead to tolerate annoying piles of magazines, it can eat away at your emotional wellbeing and drain your energy.
"That broken lamp, the over-flowing shoe rack or mismatched crockery, glassware and cutlery causes irritation in us. A sense of deep satisfaction can be gained by correcting these little things," insisted Carole Ann.
How to clear your clutter
Unfortunately for the procrastinators among you, there's not really any other way of going about clearing clutter than simply biting the bullet and getting on with it. However, you should find this isn't as much of a chore now the evenings are lighter and your energy levels are boosted once more.
A great tip comes from Beverly Wade of cluttergone.co.uk, who told Psychologies magazine that her first step is always to identify who's responsible for the clutter you're trying to get rid of – and be honest if it's you!
"Own up to your own untidiness. Your partner is probably just as frustrated by your pile of shoes as you are by his unopened letters," she advised.
Once passing the buck (or not, as the case may be) is out of the way, you can address your unwanted belongings and take the next step on getting them out of the door.
If you're prone to feeling attached to things yet know you never really use them and don't actually need them, try putting them in a box out of sight – or give them to a friend to look after if you don't trust yourself not to cave in and put them back.
If you haven't used whatever's in the box for a set period of time, then you can't be as a ttached as you thought – throw them away or donate them.
Once you have been really brave, keep on top of your hoarding tendencies to ensure clutter doesn't creep back in again. For instance, start an 'in tray' for magazines and review it regularly, taking old issues to the recycling bin as soon as you've read them and cut out any snippets you want.
Now try it with your mind too!
If you're a clutterbug with your belongings, then the chances are you might be an emotional hoarder too, which is just as damaging – if not even more so. Perhaps you dwell on times when you feel you said the wrong thing in public, or can't forget a throwaway comment you overheard a friend saying about you?
This level of worrying isn't healthy for your mind or your body – indeed, research has shown it can lead to serious health problems in the long term. Furthermore, dwelling on the past and negative thoughts in this way will be preventing you from taking pleasure in the present, particularly if you can't control them.
As author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week Erin Rooney Doland told Spirituality & Health magazine: "Regrets, anger, frustrations, anxieties, envy and other nonproductive emotions may be depleting your limited energy."
To start the decluttering process, she recommended taking time to "assess the mess", just as you would with physical clutter. Sit down as though you're meditating and think about all the things that are bothering you. Write them down if this is your first time and there are a lot!
Next, work through your list and sort the mental clutter based on what you intend to do with it – this is the same as labelling those bags of old clothes as either 'charity shop' or 'recycling'. However, since there's no shop for unwanted thoughts, try categories such as 'I must let this go' and 'I can do something about this' instead.
Next, you can create solutions to eliminate as many things of the list as you can. For instance, forgive the friend who said they didn't like the dress you were wearing that night at the pub, or schedule a time for replying to communications if you know you put off replying to emails from certain people. Let go of some of the things you've been 'meaning to do' too, as many of these could be unachievable – or set a deadline if you're really determined.
Don't be daunted if you need some help with this – try calling one of the expert spiritual life coaches at PsychicsOnline for assistance on identifying potential solutions.
Once everything is dealt with, you can then take further steps to ensure your mental clutter doesn't build back up to dangerous levels again. This is a similar technique to the one at the end of our physical clutter section, although again, you can't set 'in tray' space for thoughts.
What you can do though is face negativity rather than letting it fester. A good tip is to start keeping a diary, as you'd be amazed what a weight can be lifted from your shoulders by pouring worries down on paper – they usually don't look so frightening there in black and white.
Once your home and your mind are clutter-free, you should be able to enjoy higher levels of energy, clearer thinking and a much brighter spring.