Life in our modern era has made us extremely stressed. According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year. This is due to many factors but our overflowing homes are hard to ignore. Storage units are a billion-dollar industry and nearly one in ten American households rent one.
Decluttering and minimizing our stuff has many benefits, and an important one is increased mental clarity. The Minimal Mom on YouTube describes all the things we own as our household inventory. If you are the manager of your household you are responsible for keeping track of that entire inventory! You need to remember what you own, how it needs to be maintained, and where it is stored. By paring down you lessen your mental burden.
Having excess belongings makes our daily decisions more difficult. Psychologist Barry Schwartz discusses this phenomenon in The Paradox of Choice: our life experience is improved by having choices but only to a point. When faced with too many choices we can experience decision paralysis and regret. Anyone who has stared into their closet trying to figure out what to wear can relate to this! You can make your life easier by limiting your options for clothing, food, toiletries, even entertainment.
There is also a growing body of research on the impact of clutter on our physical health. Cortisol is the hormone our body releases in response to stress and there is evidence that being in a messy space elevates our levels and keeps them high. A 2009 study found that women’s stress levels at home were directly proportional to the amount of things their family had accumulated. Prolonged exposure to stress leads to many negative health outcomes such as suppression of our immune system, disruption of sleep, and lowered metabolism, among others.
Living in a tidy, clutter-free space has many benefits to our mental, physical, and emotional health. The demands on our time make life stressful enough, and our homes should be a peaceful respite instead of an additional source of angst. If you are struggling to get organized I have written about the topic at length over on my blog. Here are a few posts to get you started:
How to Get Motivated to Organize
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Make it fab!