The Clutter & Stress Connection
Some of us have a little clutter, and some of us have a lot. Have you ever found yourself avoiding going home because the disarray of your house felt overwhelming? You are not alone!
Many people occasionally feel this way. Less than 10 percent of people who have taken part in clutter surveys say their homes are clutter-free.
So how is the mess affecting us?
Time: Many people feel that clutter is a drain on our energy, but it also drains us of our precious time. Think of the time you spend looking for your glasses, keys, wallet, shoes, tools, etc. Even when you might be looking right at the item, sometimes you can’t see it through all the clutter!
We can waste hours maintaining all of our stuff, keeping it organized and cleaned, and then hauling it out of our homes when we are through with it. But the stuff doesn’t end when it leaves our homes. Someone has to deal with it after you discard it. Eventually it ends up in landfill, and the earth has to break it down, which is an increasingly alarming environmental concern.
Money: When we don’t have bills and financial papers organized they can get lost, causing us to accrue late fees. I have worked with clients who have lost valuable documents that linked them to bank accounts, property and/or insurance claims that were lost forever. Buying things we already have because we can’t find something, or forgot we have it can also add up.
Stress: Our homes should be a haven from stress, not the source of our stress! According to the principles of Feng Shui, clutter is defined as objects we don’t love or don’t use on a regular basis. Feng Shui teaches that we are energetically connected to everything we own and that everything in our home is continuously interacting with us- in either a positive or a negative way.
The more stuff we own, the more stuff we have to maintain. Clutter adds to our stress through some of the following ways:
- Seeing unfinished projects lying around sends negative messages about laziness and procrastination that affect our self-esteem.
- Looking at our unused exercise equipment is only sending us negative messages about laziness, being over weight, etc. These are called ‘naggers‘ in our environment. We need positive affirmations to change our behavior around exercise and fitness, not reminders of our failures.
- We will often start to isolate because it takes us all day just to make our place presentable to entertain.
- We don’t do healthy things like yoga, exercise or scrap-booking because of the time it takes to clear the space.
- It makes us feel overwhelmed about our lives and negative about ourselves.
- It is dangerous! Many people injure themselves from objects left around or hidden under things.Home injuries are a huge source of medical expenses in this country. Not to mention the stress caused and money lost due to sick time away from work.
Dealing with clutter is not a light subject. If it was easy to deal with, you wouldn’t see thousands of magazine articles and books about it. Clutter impacts us in a very big way and causes us much stress and unhappiness.
So what action steps can you take to remove the clutter stress in your life?
- The first is to acknowledging what a time-suck clutter has been for you personally.
- Drill down to get to the deeper issues behind why you are keeping an object. i.e. If you can’t let go of books – find out what the book represents to you. Once you do, you might see that owning the book has nothing to with obtaining the things it represents. Clutter is only clutter when it is not passed on and moving, so move it on to someone else whose life might be changed by reading it.
- Become a conscious consumer by realizing that every object you purchase has to go somewhere. One way to begin is to understand the epidemic of “unconscious” consuming. Read the Story of Stuff and Why we’re Addicts and see how deeply consumerism is ingrained in our psyche and culture.
- Reuse, reduce consumption and recycle what you own to give it multiple uses before you discard it.
- Refuse articles before they come into the home such as junk mail, cartons, bags and product wrappings. Take them off at the store and bring your own bags for carrying them home. Send the message to the companies that shrink-wrapped items and packaging are acceptable to yo and aren’t good for the planet. You can register to receive less junk mail and catalogs at dmachoice.org, optoutprescreen.com and catalogchoice.org.
Begin moving towards creating a Zero Waste Home. If it doesn’t come in, it doesn’t have to go out! Read about this inspiring couple who has managed to have only one quart of recycling per month!
Erica Sofrina in a Professional Organizer, Feng Shui Consultant and the author of the book Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western world. She is the founder of the West Coast Academy of Feng Shui and an International speaker and teacher. You can find out more from her web site at www.ericasofrina.com.