Self Care Tip: Declutter!

January 12, 2016

We have been speaking at length about self care. I recently finished an article for a print publication on this subject, and while I was speaking with experts on self care, I spoke with a friend, Sheryn Kelderhouse.



I've known Sheryn for fifteen years now, having met her back when we worked for a French cosmetics line. She is now a regular guest on ABC 13WHAM's Good Day Rochester & the founder of The Inspired Life Project. Sheryn regularly talks about topics relating to living your best life and I wanted to pick her brain about clutter and self care.

Why is it so hard to get rid of clutter?

We moved three weeks ago. The hardest thing for me when it came to packing was letting go of "things." I realize that I sometimes become attached to objects. When my dad died in 2005, my stepmother sent me several packages of his things that she thought I would feel comforted by having in my possession. Many of the items, his Green Bay Packers cheesehead and early articles, for example, I will always keep.

Other items -- boxes of clothes, for example -- I was holding onto. I do not know why. My husband is 6'4" and my dad was 5'11". It is not as if my husband would want Dad's old shirts. I donated the boxes of clothes and turned his favorite shirt into a stuffed bear. Why, then, did I hold onto them for more than 10 years? They just took up space in my basement.

The thought of not having these items made me feel anxious. I realize that, in some ways, parting with these items made me feeling like I was somehow "letting go" of some memories of my father.

This is normal with grief, though, I have been told.

On a lighter note- Let's talk about that junk drawer! I think we all have one. Three weeks into our new home, I can tell you that the junk drawer is the small drawer to the right of my stove. It has a mix of batteries, a roll of tape, my carpal tunnel brace, paper clips, a couple of pennies, my son's glue stick, flashlight, and a bottle of peppermint essential oil. These items all have their proper place, but they have wound up in the junk drawer. Realistically, this is the "clutter drawer."

I will clean it out and it will be neat once more, but there is more to clutter than meets the eye -- at least for some people.

Science tells us that for many, decluttering can actually be painful. In a recent study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine, brain activity was studied in two groups of people. These groups were considered hoarders and non-hoarders. When hoarders were faced with the prospect of tossing out their own clutter, there was increased activity in two areas of the brain. Anxiety and discomfort were detected by those who felt an emotional connection to their "junk" and they felt the need to hold onto it --- the junk gave them a sense of comfort and security.

Letting go of clutter, however, is emotionally beneficial.

Decluttering and self care go hand in hand.

"Decluttering is essential to self care because when you are living in a cluttered space, you are not valuing yourself, your time, or your things & therefore cannot possibly be practicing good self-care."

She continues, "Once you begin to declutter, you will feel lighter, not only in your home and/or office's physical space, but inside your soul. You will start to value yourself more, feel worthy, less stressed, and make the time for you!"

Making it easier to declutter

We know that it is good to cut back on the clutter. It is cathartic. So, what can we do to make it easier?

1. Declutter just ONE item a day to start. This is a simple way to start and you will find that it makes a difference. An example - start with just one room. "Today, I will choose one item of clothing to donate"  or "Today, I will toss out one item from my makeup bag that is past its prime."

2. Say no to guilt! Are you holding on to something just because you feel like you need to? That ugly sweater that your mother in law gave you? Donate it or take it to a consignment shop! 

3. It is okay to let go. This is the one that was hard for me when I was going through my dad's things. Trust me -- just because I do not have some of the physical things anymore doesn't mean I do not have memories. Give yourself permission to let go. You will feel free. 

4. Don't replace what you've removed. In other words, if you have removed three bags of clutter, don't go out and buy three bags of new stuff.

I really believe Sheryn is right! Choosing to declutter made me feel lighter and more joyful. Having less makes me feel like I have more --not in the physical sense -- but emotionally. I feel richer, happier, and with a greater peace of mind. THAT is priceless, my friends.




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