“There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.”
That’s how Benjamin Franklin’s famous adage goes. Well, it should be changed to three things: death, taxes, and stress because, in today’s fast-paced digital era, stress is pretty much guaranteed!
With little time on our hands to get organised and the tendency to become emotionally attached to stuff, our homes, offices, and even digital spaces (phone, laptop, personal computer, etc.) can become extraordinarily cluttered. And it’s this clutter that has a surprisingly detrimental impact upon our psychological well being.
It’s the opinion of many healthcare professionals and the results of countless studies: decluttering your physical and digital spaces is a highly effective way to gain control of your life and your stress... for a plethora of reasons:
Reduced Stress and a Feeling of Accomplishment
- Walking into and around your home shouldn’t be impeded by excessive furniture, ornaments, and boxes of stuff you’re reluctant to throw away.
- Trying to locate an important document in your office shouldn’t become an hours long affair of finding a needle in a haystack.
- Your laptop’s desktop shouldn’t be a mess of homeless files and folders, the contents of which you can’t remember.
Decluttering is as much about eliminating physical obstacles from your pathway as it is about regaining control over your environments, whether it’s the home or the office. As such, keeping your spaces decluttered by recycling old documents, throwing away photographs, and donating possessions, clothing, and other bric-a-brac you never use or wear anymore won’t only leave your spaces looking far more attractive, but will also help you gain an increased sense of control over your life.
This all helps to eliminate the significant stress we feel from a lack of control.
Also, you’ll enjoy an enormous sense of accomplishment when you’ve FINALLY tackled your paper-strewn desk or donated a truckload of that totally out-dated 1970’s furniture you inherited from your mother-in-law.
Delete Those Emotional Triggers
Decluttering removes the emotional triggers that often connect us to melancholic memories. Holding on to a Valentine’s Day card from an ex? Turf it. Still have a digital folder of photos from your romantic weekend away on your computer? Delete them or bury them deep in your photo folder so that you don’t come across them every time you open your laptop.
Going through a box of bric-a-brac or some old computer files in search of something in particular is a task that should perhaps only take a few minutes and yet, it turns into an epic exercise as we become distracted by all the forgotten items we come across. This can be fun if it raises pleasant childhood memories but it can become a source of utter frustration (not to mention wasted time) if it’s an overflowing file cabinet or box of tax receipts.
Create an organised box (or several boxes) of items, papers, records, and photographs that you don’t want to throw away and store them somewhere completely out of sight and mind. With these distractions removed, you’ll find yourself with greater focus, which opens up many doors of opportunity, such as greater productivity at work, the time and mental serenity to start an online course, or even just the patience to be a better parent.
A Final Word on the Psychological Benefits of Decluttering
These benefits - reduced stress, a feeling of accomplishment, deleted emotional triggers, and improved focus - have manifold feed-on effect. Reduced stress will improve your general health and mood, which will help you become the best version of yourself you can be. A sense of accomplishment can inspire you to do more and become more productive. Deleted emotional triggers will help you permanently separate yourself from a past that might be dragging you down. And a neater, freer home is a safer, healthier, and happier environment for the entire family.
Remember, when it comes to clutter – less is more!