Clutter; It's More Than Just "Stuff"

This time of year, it’s common to feel stressed out, overwhelmed, burnout, and completely mentally and physically exhausted. So how in the world can clutter in your home impact these feelings?

Stop and reflect.

How do you feel when you walk into a spa? Calm, relaxed, peaceful. Your surroundings are clean and uncluttered. Now, how do you feel when you walk into a disheveled play room so full of things that you can’t even see the floor? A whole different set of emotions emerge.

Did you know that the average American home has over 250,000 items? We’ve reached the point where 1 in 4 Americans can’t even park in their garage due to an over accumulation of “stuff.”

It has been proven in multiple studies that our environments play a large roll in our mental and physical health.

How did we get here?

Society has conditioned us to think that things are the way to a happy life. We are constantly bombarded with ads for new products that will make life easier. Amazon knows you want a product before you even know you want that product. These items magically pop up in a list of "products you may also like" thanks to an algorithm. Facebook uses data from posts you like and the speed of your scroll and uses this data to trigger sponsored posts into your feed targeted to your specific demographics.

We are constantly striving for a better life, so much so, that we buy more and more things in an attempt to fill that desire and longing for happiness, control, and a better life. This leads us to become conditioned to think that the new product will be the game changer so we buy more and more. We post about our purchase and appear to be living our best lives on social media and search for that external validation through likes.

For what?

At the end of the day, we didn’t end up fulfilled by this material item, rather we are left feeling more empty and with even more clutter in our environment. The clutter around us builds causing more feelings of overwhelm and anxiety which negatively impacts our ability to focus.

The brain

Our brain is an amazing thing, but one thing that the brain is terrible at is multitasking. Everything we see around us provides a small distraction to our brain, including clutter. A cluttered environment competes for our attention and sends our brain into multitasking mode. We see never ending reminders of things that need to be done, money spent on poor purchases, and goals that we may not have achieved.

The end result is decreased focus and increased levels of stress as these items are a constant trigger of emotional stress and cause the brain to try and focus on everything at once vs the task at hand.

Clutter in our home ends up becoming stagnate energy. When your home is cluttered, you are left with a cluttered mind. So if things are cluttered, and our mind is cluttered, our brain tries in any way that it can to regain control. Many times this results in buying even more and causing the cycle to continue.

How to we break the cycle?

I am not saying you need to throw everything in your home away and live in a Spartan home, rather your home should be your sanctuary, not a stressor. The things you surround yourself with should be things you use, you need, and you love. Try the following tasks to gain control.

  1. Decrease the influx of things into your home and establish a one in one out rule. This works really well for clothing and shoes. When you buy a new item, get in the habit of eliminating an item that you no longer wear.

  2. Start asking for experiences vs. things for gifts and encourage your family to do the same.

  3. Start small. Look at the analytics on your phone and notice how much time you spend scrolling on social media. Put down the phone, stop scrolling, and set a timer for 5' to sort through one drawer. Often times, the hardest part is getting started.

Final challenge

I challenge you, as we start the new year, to make a resolution to gain control over your surroundings. The result is priceless, something that can’t be bought; more time and space for what matters most!

For more ideas to Simplify life,

follow along on Instagram @SimplifyMeByAT

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