10 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Declutter
Decluttering your space will change your life for the better, in ways you couldn't imagine. This is what happens when you get rid of what you don't need!
Whether or not you’re a devoted follower of Marie Kondo and her so-hot-right-now “tidying” method, it’s safe to say that we can all benefit from getting rid of the things we don’t need. In fact, clearing the clutter out your drawers, closets and other nooks and crannies can pave the way for a more positive emotional life.
Feeling iffy about sending your stuff to Goodwill or (heaven forbid) the trash can? Here are 10 reasons you should just go for it. (How about this weekend?)
1. Greater Awareness of Who You Really Are
According to Certified Professional Organizer®, Denise B. Lee, decluttering “can be an exercise to get in touch with our values and goals.” When you start eliminating the things that don’t jive with who you are (or who you want to be) you get close to defining the true you. Surround yourself only with objects — from furniture to clothing, photos to knickknacks — that fit with your ideal goals and values. Toss or donate the rest so your space is an honest reflection of yourself.
2. Freedom From Energetic Weight
Chances are, for whatever reason, you’ve felt “stuck” at some point in your life. Our things can actually weigh us down and contribute to feeling heavy or trapped, says psychologist and life coach Dr. Laura L. Ciel. “When you hold on to things, they create weight in your life,” she explains. “One of the best actions you can take is to mindfully lose some of this energetic weight. Letting go of those things that no longer serve you frees up space emotionally and physically, which means you create a greater sense of freedom for yourself.”
3. Healthy Control
As a professional organizer, Denise Lee says that the word she hears most from her clients when talking about their clutter is “overwhelmed.” Getting rid of clutter can, in her opinion, lead to feeling a healthy sense of control over their lives. “Letting go of the stuff that isn’t personally important means letting go of distractions, which provides more focus, which leads to more control,” she explains. Especially in the wake of a personal upheaval (a breakup, job loss or other big life event), clearing away clutter can provide a much-needed mental anchor.
4. Sense of Accomplishment
Decluttering is a major task that takes time, physical effort and mental energy. Completing such a feat can provide an incredible feeling of accomplishment, according to professional cleaner Conor Craig. “One of the benefits for me is that after I clean up, I get this feeling of completion,” he explains. If you’re the type who likes keeping busy or gets bored easily, a solid decluttering session can spark feelings of productivity, which will boost your mood.
5. Less Stress
Living in a cluttered home or working in a messy office makes it tough to find what you need when you need it. This can cause stress when you’re running late and can’t find your keys or think that you’ve lost an important document because it’s buried under random piles of paper.
“When you’re disorganized and surrounded by too much clutter, you’re more likely to have lots of stressed-out moments than if you have less stuff,” says Kelly McMenamin, co-founder of PixiesDidIt!, which helps people organize according to their personality types. “You don’t have to be an M.D. to know your blood pressure or your cortisol levels are elevated in those moments.” She explains that decluttering brings an increased level of calm into your life because it reduces the time you’ll feel crazed in any given day or week.
6. Renewed Self-Esteem
Many people are embarrassed by their clutter, professional organizer Denise Lee says. In fact, having a messy or disorganized space can discourage people from having friends or family over, creating an isolated existence as well as sense of shame because of the way their spaces look and feel. “Decluttering provides a space that people are comfortable sharing,” she explains, which can lead to higher self-esteem and a healthy sense of pride for themselves and their homes.
7. Fewer Unhealthy Expectations
Take a look in your closet and ask yourself: How many pairs of pants do you have that actually fit you? Keeping clothes for “someday” — when you lose the weight or get down to a certain size — traps you in an unhealthy space. “Letting go of an older piece of clothing that doesn’t fit anymore will help you let go of the expectation that you ‘have to be’ that size,” says professional organizer Rachel Rosenthal. “This will propel you toward further acceptance of the here and now versus the past.” In this way, she says, letting go of clutter allows you to live more freely. If you do end up losing weight, you can always celebrate by buying new clothing that makes you feel great about yourself.
8. Independence From Negativity
Speaking of letting go, Rosenthal says that decluttering stuff from your past, such as dishes from your old marriage, will help you let go of any negativity associated with those items. “People don’t realize that when you are able to declutter, you are able to still have the memory but let go of the physical item that might be negatively associated with it,” she explains. “Being able to bring things into your home, like new dishes, will give you a fresh start.” She advises only keeping things in your home with which you have positive associations instead of holding on to objects that represent past pain.
9. Good Vibes From Helping Others
After you’ve cleared away your unwanted things, you’ll likely have piles of objects that you don’t want but that could still be useful to others. “If you can’t use an item or have outgrown its purpose, you’ll feel a sense of good when you’re able to donate it to someone else in need of it,” Rosenthal says. As you take your bags and boxes to a local charity or thrift store, you’ll inevitably enjoy the fact that your so-called trash will become another person’s treasure.
10. More Mental Space for Happiness
While you’re decluttering your physical stuff, take some time to clean up the clutter in your mind.
“It’s easy to see the physical clutter around you, but have you checked the mental clutter you’ve collected?” Dr. Ciel asks. “Letting go of past hurts, mistakes and grudges creates space in your head, which boosts your mood, decreases overwhelming feelings and increases motivation for those things you’ve been wanting to do.”
She says that holding on to unhealthy thoughts leaves little space for the words and actions that lead to feeling good. As you mentally declutter, you’ll enjoy more energy and happiness as you focus on the people and actions that bring you joy.