The Health Benefits of Decluttering: Improving Physical and Mental Well-being

Woman Selecting Clothes from her Closet for Donating to a Charity Shop. Decluttering, Sorting Clothes, and cleaning up. Reuse, Second-hand Concept. Conscious Consumer, Sustainable Lifestyle.

One of the best things you can do for your health is to de-clutter your home.  Clutter significantly impacts our physical and mental health – becoming both a safety hazard and contributing toward higher rates of depression.

As a senior move manager, I meet with clients shortly after they’ve made the decision to move to a senior community or a smaller home. For many the decision is delayed due to the overwhelming task of moving and the fear of making downsizing decisions.

These hard decisions are compounded by our worry that “letting go” means saying goodbye to our history, our hopes and the belief that if no one “keeps our things,” we cease to exist.  

I was an only grandchild. When my grandmother passed away, my mother wanted me to keep her china. I wasn’t even using the china I’d registered for only two years before. 

Decluttering Vintage Porcelain China Set

Generational priorities change and the things you’ve cherished don’t hold the same significance for your loved ones. Though her china was donated, I fought hard for a lamp in my grandmother’s living room because THIS item had significance for me.  It now sits on my nightstand.  

I find another reason people hold onto items is due to value. They think of what they paid for an item when they bought it. If you are holding onto an item you don’t necessarily love think of how much you paid for it when you bought it.

Try looking up the item on eBay under the sold price. I was holding onto a 1985 Guess Jean jacket that I paid $85 for. It was only worth about $30.

Use an app like Google Lens which will give you an idea of what the item is, what it might cost, and where you can buy a new one.

Look up the negative impacts of clutter in Chat GPT and you’ll find:

Clutter can have several negative effects on us, both psychologically and physically. 

Here are a few reasons why clutter is generally considered to be bad for us:

Stressed and Overwhelmed Woman Standing in Front of Cluttered Wardrobe
Desperate Woman Sitting on Sofa in Messy Room
  1. Stress and Anxiety: Living or working in cluttered environments can increase stress levels. Cluttered spaces often create a sense of visual overload and can make it difficult for our brains to focus and relax. 
  2. Reduced Productivity: Clutter can hinder productivity and efficiency. When our physical spaces are disorganized, it becomes harder to find things we need, leading to wasted time and increased frustration. 
  3. Impaired Mental Well-being: Clutter has been linked to negative psychological effects, such as feelings of guilt, shame, and dissatisfaction. It can remind us of unfinished tasks, create a sense of chaos, and contribute to a generally negative mood. In contrast, an organized and tidy environment promotes a sense of calm and control.
  4. Safety Hazards: Excessive clutter can create safety hazards, especially when it obstructs pathways, walkways, or emergency exits. It increases the risk of accidents, such as tripping and falling. Cluttered spaces can also impede proper maintenance and cleaning, leading to potential health risks from dust, allergens, or pests.
  5. Impact on Focus and Creativity: Clutter can hinder our cognitive abilities and limit creative thinking. A cluttered environment competes for our attention, making it difficult to concentrate and generate new ideas. Clearing the clutter and organizing our surroundings can help create a more conducive atmosphere for creative thinking and problem-solving.
  6. Emotional Attachment and Hoarding: Clutter often consists of items we no longer need or use, but we hold onto them due to sentimental value or a fear of letting go. This emotional attachment can lead to hoarding tendencies, causing further accumulation of clutter and exacerbating its negative effects.

It’s important to note that different individuals may have varying levels of tolerance for clutter, and some people may feel more comfortable in slightly disorganized environments. However, excessive and chronic clutter tends to have detrimental effects on our well-being. Creating and maintaining an organized and clutter-free space can contribute to a healthier and more productive lifestyle.

Here are seven tips for decluttering/downsizing:

Woman Decluttering Clothes for Donation
Asian Chinese Young Woman Decluttering and Unpacking at College Dorm Room
  1. Break the task into manageable pieces. Create a “to do” list, starting with the easiest tasks and work toward the harder ones.  
  2. When organizing, clear off shelves and areas you want to de-clutter so you have a fresh canvas.  Then, gather like items together and begin to fill the space eliminating duplicates, broken items and things you aren’t really using. Use labels and bins to keep the area organized.
  3. If you want your loved ones to say “yes” to your things, create a list of the most important items and share their story.  Host a family “show and tell” and give items away. 
  4. Use a site like Artifcts.com or make an album and take photos and the history behind mementoes. Often, these photos are just as special as the item itself.
  5. If you have a collection, choose and display your favorites then gift, sell or donate the rest.
  6. Set your timer for 10 minutes a day for one week.  Fill one bag with trash and one with donations.  You can also use stickers for furniture.Make sure you’ve scheduled a delivery pick up for the end of the week. 
  7. Don’t let pride keep you from asking for help – whether a friend or loved one or a service like Silver Linings Transitions. 
  8. Be kind to yourself. It’s mentally taxing to do this work.
Most Reliable and Best Home Organizing and Decluttering Company in San Diego and Orange County CA
Most Reliable and Best Home Organizing and Decluttering Company in San Diego and Orange County CA

Silver Linings Transitions, is a senior and specialty move management company offering downsizing, home organizing and move management assistance. We also run monthly Downsizing Support groups. For more information call 760 522-1624 or email info@silverliningstransitions.com