Recently, I wrote a post in which I talked about my grandmother, who we found out, was hoarding items and never decluttering. Discovering this was something of a shock; my grandmother didn’t look like a hoarder. Her home was tidy and clean. But what she had tucked into closets and drawers, boxes and bins shocked us when we were cleaning up her home after she had be moved to long term care due to cognitive impairment. The more I read up on hoarding and decluttering and managing our physical stuff, the more fascinated I was and the more I realized that this topic is ever more vast than I had originally thought. So, I turned that post into a mini-series as there was a lot to cover and share. Because the dangers of never decluttering are real.
Let’s dive in!
How Clutter Affects Our Lives
Clutter is when our homes are untidy, or spaces are filled with objects. Think of when your coffee table gets full of empty mugs, kids toys, remote controls, flyers from the mailbox–this is clutter. Clutter however, can really affect our mental health, especially when we allow it to pile up. Clutter has been found to be connected to stress and low energy. Also, clutter can begin to take up a lot of space which can interfere with your sense of your home as a sanctuary, and even interfere with things you’d like to do in your home, such as hobbies. This is why it’s important to declutter. Too much stuff, or clutter can threaten to overtake your home and live in a calm, efficient, enjoyable way.
These are some ways that clutter can interfere with your mental health:
- you are chronically distracted
- you feel stressed out
- you feel overwhelmed
- you feel challenged when cleaning (ie. vaccumming or dusting)
As you can see, there are a few dangers of never decluttering right here, and the one I want to highlight is that you can’t enjoy your own home.
Decluttering is More than Removing Physical Objects
Often when we think of decluttering, we think of digging through the closet and throwing out clothes we don’t like or that don’t fit. And while this is part of the process, this is not de-cluttering in its entirety. De-cluttering is not just throwing out things. It also means tidying and organizing, and removing things that no longer serve a real purpose in our lives, even items we find sentimental. This is where we often run into problems as we tend to hang onto things for what seem like practical reasons, such as:
- this might be useful one day
- I spent a lot of money on this
- this is special to me
- maybe I’ll wear this again/fit into again
Essentially, we feel that removing the item from our home is wasteful, so we hang onto it, even though it’s far more likely that we’ll never miss that thing if we did remove it from our lives. And so one of the dangers of never decluttering is that we have stuff just for the sake of having stuff.
Can Too Much Clutter Lead to Hoarding?
Possibly. If your living spaces are beginning to be full of so many things that its interfering with your daily living, this is a sign that you may be hoarding. However, it may be that you are simply overwhelmed with the things in your home and frozen in place by the clutter, which is another negative impact of clutter on your mental health. So how do we deal with too much clutter? How can we take back control of our lives in a society that places so much value and emphasis on material items? We need to declutter and do so in a way that is sustainable and just tossing things out to rid them from our home. When you begin to de-clutter, start by doing some reflecting. Ask yourself,
- what is working well in my home and what isn’t?
- is this clutter keeping me from moving forward in my life?
- is this stuff that I’m keeping that doesn’t serve a purpose? Do I want to keep managing it?
- what is causing me to feel overwhelmed?
Figuring out some answers to these questions can go a long way towards helping you declutter in a way that really benefits your mental health, happiness and your home.
How to Begin DeCluttering
It’s perfectly all right to ask for help if this is a task that is too daunting or time consuming to tackle on your own. It’s far easier to ask for help than dealing with the dangers of never decluttering! You could tackle the decluttering of your home Marie Kondo style, or you could simple begin with garbage. Toss out anything broken, that is too old (think make up or such) and from there head over to things you can reduce and recycle. You know, clothes you don’t wear, things that take up too much space or you simply don’t use. From there you can begin with the organization portion of this task.
Organization is the part of the task that is a little more open ended I think. Do you want to organize your wardrobe by season? Really embrace minimalism and reduce your closet to ten items you can mix and match? Do you want keep a collection of books, as in a library? Because remember, it’s your home. It’s meant to bring you joy.
You can also begin practices that help you ensure that your home doesn’t become cluttered again. For instance, do you need to buy multiples of things? Won’t one set of dishes do as well as three? Do you need a fancy sets of dishes for company? My husband and I bought china dishes and we use them daily. We use crystal glasses to drink our wine from. We preferred to buy quality, lovely items and use them daily instead of having a daily set and saving the “nice” set for special occasions.
You can even embrace a new lifestyle, such as hygge, or Feng shi. More on that in another post!
And the most important thing I think to embrace, is to do a bit of a clean up every day. Put away children’s toys at the end of the day, wipe down counters, make your bed every morning, do a quick vacuum, toss out junk mail. A light daily clean can make it easier to keep up with daily chores and make your home more enjoyable for both yourself and guests. I certainly feel a lot better when I’ve cleaned the main living area a little and enjoy my cup of tea much more than when I leave things lying around and am looking at mess and clutter.
Maintain the DeClutter
I think it’s a mistake to think that once we declutter, that it’s done and over with. Things have a way of creeping into our homes. Boxes, things we are gifted, things we buy. Keeping the home clutter free is ongoing task. But we can make it easier by being more conscious about what is coming into our homes. Think about the kind of home you want, and make purchases based on that vision. You might find that sometimes, you don’t make a purchase at all and that’s fine. We’ll talk some more about this in my next post as well.
Share your thoughts below about any other dangers of never decluttering that you know, and be subscribe to the blog to never miss a post.