How Decluttering Reduces Stress & Boosts Your Mood

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More to Marie Kondo Movement Than Just Tidying Up

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Woman mops tile kitchen floor; decluttering reduces stress and boosts mood

Tidying up has a whole new meaning, thanks to Marie Kondo’s book and Netflix special. If nothing else, maybe you’ve been motivated to take a closer look at your closet and drawers (possibly your entire house), thanks to your friends and neighbors raving about her life-changing methods. Even Cornelius Gucfa, MD, UnityPoint Health, says his family took some of her advice to heart.

“My wife just ‘Marie Kondoed’ my clothing drawers,” he says. “It looks great, and I can find what I need once again. I’m wearing clothes I forgot I had.”

While having an organized wardrobe is one perk, Dr. Gucfa says decluttering – however it’s done – has a larger impact on stress than you might think.

“When we’re dealing with a lot of clutter and chaos in our lives, it can flood our minds with too much stimulation, increasing anxiety and making it difficult to relax. Clutter can be a constant reminder that things seem unfinished. Plus, feeling disorganized or not being able to complete tasks or goals can make us feel as if we’re out of control.” Dr. Gucfa says.

Just thinking about letting clothes or belongings go can make us feel anxious and out of control.

“We can feel anxiety about getting rid of something we rarely or never use because we might need it again in the future. And the thought of needing to purchase something new to replace discarded belongings can only make anxiety grow more,” Dr. Gucfa says.

If you’re ready to focus some energy on your home, he offers these organizational tips to help start decluttering efforts:

  • Set manageable, realistic goals. Focus on one room at a time, so you don’t overwhelm yourself, and give yourself a date and timeframe to get something done.
  • Use the pile method. When you’re going through your clothes or belongings, sort items into different piles – a keep pile, get rid of pile and store pile.
  • Implement the 80/20 rule. We wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. Get rid of the clothes you never wear. Not sure if something qualifies? If you haven’t worn or used something in six months, unless it’s seasonal, you probably don’t need it.
  • Power of donation. If you’ve gone to the hard work of setting items aside to get rid of, make sure you take the final step by donating or having a garage sale, if you feel your things have value.

“We live in a culture with a ‘have to have it all together’ mindset. But you can’t let a few dishes in the sink cause guilt or embarrassment about the appearance of your home. No one wants to isolate themselves, which could fuel symptoms of depression. Everyone has to figure out what works for them,” Dr. Gucfa says.